CDL Hotels International, the Hong Kong-listed arm of Singapore's Hong Leong Group, has posted a 39.9 per cent rise in net profit to $615.69 million for last year. The result was bolstered by a strong operating performance and a one-off gain from the floating of its European and North American hotel divisions last year. The result, slightly below analysts' expectations, came after an operating profit (including associates) of $1.01 billion, up 42.4 per cent. It also made an exceptional profit of $152.6 million. There was no exceptional gain in the previous year. Turnover rose 38.8 per cent to $5.29 billion and earnings per share, including the exceptional, were up 26.9 per cent at 32.98 cents. Excluding the one-off gain, earnings per share were down 4.6 per cent at 24.8 cents. The final dividend was six cents, making the payout for the year 10 cents, up from seven cents in 1995. Chairman Kwek Leng Beng attributed the growth to strong performances from the company's European and North American operations, which made an operating profit of $459 million, benefiting from buoyant markets in London and New York. CDL spun off 45 per cent of its European and North American operations under the name Millennium & Copthorne Hotels in London in April last year for a profit of $153 million. By comparison, growth in Asia was slower. Operating profit fell 1 per cent to $475 million due to lower operating capacity caused by renovations in its Singapore hotels, increased competition and higher funding costs. Average room yields in Asia rose about 7 per cent to $685.