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Peregrine beats retreat from Myanma

Subject: Peregrine beats retreat from Myanmar

  Asia Times News =20

Peregrine beats a retreat from Myanmar

Stephen Brookes, Yangon, 18th December 1996


Peregrine Investments Holdings will drastically cut back its operations =
in Myanmar after two top officials there suddenly had their visas =
revoked, officials of the Hong Kong-based company said.

"Peregrine will be drastically curtailing its operations and reviewing =
whether we can pursue our core business in Myanmar, which is investment =
banking," said Rajan K Pillai, managing director of Peregrine Capital =

The international business community in Yangon greeted news of the visa =
revocations with dismay. "Considering how important Peregrine is, the =
whole situation is very disturbing," said one banker. "This will =
certainly make many people think very, very carefully before investing =

Sources familiar with the case said Pillai would be leaving Myanmar on =
Wednesday and executive director Hector Lwin on Thursday after being =
told last week their visas were being canceled. They said Peregrine =
would be laying off its 10 local staff, keeping only one representative, =
and its expansive office in the International Business Center would be =
c! losed by the end of January.

The decision marks at least a temporary end to Peregrine's troubled =
attempts to gain a foothold in Myanmar's slowly emerging market. The =
company has spent close to US$5 million in unprofitable ventures, most =
notably the Myanmar American Fisheries Company which is a joint venture =
with the Ministry of Fisheries.

That venture soured when Peregrine had a contentious falling-out with =
Miriam Marshall Segal, an American who had been doing business in =
Myanmar since 1976. She has close ties with top Myanmar officials =
including General Maung Maung, Secretary of the Investment Commission.

Peregrine bought 80 percent of Segal's fishing company in 1994 for =
US$1.5 million and set up Myanmar American Fisheries Company. But in =
July 1995, Peregrine ousted Segal as executive chairman of Peregrine =
Capital Myanmar and sued her for breach of fiduciary duties and terms of =
her employment contract.=20

Peregrine was awarded damages of US$4.1 million in a New York court on =
October 10.=20

Segal, who is appealing the award, ex pressed little sympathy toward =
Peregrine. "I could care less," she said on Tuesday. "I have no ill =
feeling toward them but I think they were ill-advised."=20

Segal, now in Yangon on an extended business trip, said her appeal would =
be heard in January.=20

According to sources familiar with the case, Pillai and Lwin received a =
letter from the Immigration Department on December 12 telling them their =
visas would be canceled as of December 16. They requested an extension =
and were granted until December 19.

As reported last month in Asia Times, Pillai learned several weeks ago =
that the Department of Investment and Company Administration had asked =
that his visa not be extended, charging that he had provided erroneous =
information to the government. No reason was given for the cancellation =
of Lwin's visa.