THE relocation of South China Morning Post (Holdings) to new offices grew in scale and scope over the past three years, leading to a revised cost of $670 million, company deputy chief executive Owen Jonathan says. Explaining yesterday to shareholders at the company's annual general meeting the difference between the final cost and the initial estimate of between $300 million and $500 million, Mr Jonathan said extra capital investments were injected as the project progressed. These investments included a $100 million 'mail-room' that would facilitate the paper-sorting and distribution process and additional press units that also cost $100 million. 'As we look at the structural and functional efficiency of the building, we decided to make some capital investments,' Mr Jonathan said. The new investments would ensure ample room for growth, he said. The move was completed before the end of July and the opening ceremony of Morning Post Centre in Tai Po was held on Tuesday. Despite the move and the difficulties facing the newspaper industry, chairman Robert Kuok said he was pleased to see a modest increase in both turnover and net profit. Profit edged up 2.8 per cent to $580 million from $564 million in the year ended June. Turnover rose a similar margin to $1.25 billion. Expressing his optimism over Hong Kong's political transition, Mr Kuok said any short-term difficulties would pass quickly. He reaffirmed his commitment to the newspaper's independence. 'I am a firm believer in our paper's editorial independence, free from the establishment or cultural bias,' he said. Responding to a shareholder's question on press reports in the Philippines regarding allegations made against deputy chairman Roberto Ongpin, Mr Kuok said he was aware of the reports. 'But allegations are allegations [only],' he said. He said there were two regrets in last year's operation, the closure of the Chinese-language Overseas Chinese Daily News and the shedding of staff on the South China Morning Post. 'It is unlikely that there will be further rationalisation,' he said. Both events were necessary to ensure the financial fitness of the company, he said.