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O.C. BRIEFLY

April 24, 1993

Chinese Deal: Thomas-Chao Group, a Newport Beach investment consortium, said Friday that its joint venture to manufacture food products in China will be launched May 1.

Thomas Food Co. of Shanghai was granted a license about three weeks ago to operate in China. The investment consortium bought a 50% stake in Bai Ja Food Co., a business leased by the Chinese government.

The joint-venture company, which makes baked goods such as cookies and pastries, will be managed by Chien Chao, vice president of the consortium in Shanghai. Thomas Food Co. is planning to open a retail outlet in China and to export the food products.

Newport Beach lawyer Stephen Thomas, founder of Thomas-Chao Group, said the initial investment was "well under a million," excluding production equipment.

"The most valuable thing is the license," he said. "It gives us an opportunity to go into an area you wouldn't be able to go into cold. (The joint venture) is sort of being grandfathered in."

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