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Shanghai nightmare for Aquaria

By Phil Boeyen, ShareChat Business News Editor

Saturday 1st July 2000

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Beleaguered Aquaria 21 says the reality of doing business in China is a nightmare and that the best direction for the company is cutting its losses there and heading in another direction.

Managing director, Ken Wikeley, says from a shareholder's perspective there is no doubt that the Aquarium business venture into China has been extremely disappointing after the initial high expectations.

The visitor numbers have never really been up to scratch.

A colder than normal December 1999 and January 2000 is given as one possible reason for keeping fish fans away, but even taking the entire trading year into account there were fewer than 1.1 million visitors - a figure substantially down on original forecasts.

Mr Wikeley says the sad reality of doing business in China is that the "dream" looks great but the "reality" is actually a nightmare.

And he says Aquaria is not the only one to suffer, citing the recent withdrawal from China of three major international supermarket chains who experienced problems similar to Aquaria.

Mr Wikeley's address to the annual shareholder's meeting didn't hold out any carrot to shareholders either

"At this time, no alternative business opportunity has been identified but a number are being investigated. It is not expected a proposal on a any future direction will be put to shareholders until after final settlement of the Aquarium Sale agreement in September 2000."

A meeting to consider selling the Shanghai Aquarium for approximately US$8.325 million is planned before the end of July. AQL closed at 4.3 cents on Friday.

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