South China Holdings, which has businesses from broking to toys, yesterday said its 1997 attributable profit rose 78.2 per cent to $102.5 million, as gains from a share sale and its shoes division overcame widening losses at its media business. The company said its results would have been substantially better if not for the region's economic slowdown. Chairman Robert Ng Hung Sang said: 'Hong Kong's economy continues to suffer from the latest regional crisis. While the Government's various policies will help in the medium term, a greater degree of flexibility is needed right now.' Operating profit rose 24.7 per cent to $174.2 million, and turnover rose 25.9 per cent to $2.22 billion. The directors cut the final dividend to one cent per share from 6.5 cents in 1996, making the total dividend for the year 5.5 cents, down from 11 cents. The group booked a net exceptional gain of $50.4 million, helped by proceeds from the 9 per cent stake in South China Brokerage the company sold to mainland investment firm Yue Xiu Enterprises (Holdings) last June. The group's shoe manufacturing associate Nority International, held through South China Industries, saw its profit rise 6.7 per cent to $84.5 million helped by improved production facilities. The media business held by South China Strategic Investments, fared less well, as competition stifled its now defunct Express News newspaper and Surprise Weekly magazine.