Brokerage and property company Mansion House Group said yesterday net profits rocketed to $56 million for the year to December, up from $7.8 million the previous year. The company attributed the increase in profit to a threefold rise to $31 billion in the value of securities transactions handled. Turnover increased to $229.8 million from $62.3 million, while earnings per share hit 19.12 cents against 2.69 cents in 1996. Mansion House said it would pay shareholders a final dividend of one cent per share for a total dividend for the year of four cents. It paid a total dividend of one cent per share the previous year. Mansion House teamed up with State Street International Holdings last year to engage in fund management business. It said a letter of intent has been signed between the joint-venture and Guangdong Overseas Trust's Investment Corp to establish a joint-venture fund management company in the mainland. Mansion House said its Wanhua Garden residential project in Guangzhou was completed last year and 90 per cent was delivered to buyers, adding that construction on the next phase of development had begun. The company said the outlook for profits in the first half of this year did not look promising due to slow stock exchange turnover. However, it said a recovery in Asian economies and Beijing's drive to spur demand on the mainland would improve profits in the second half. Since the economic crisis struck Asia last autumn, Mansion House Securities has been consistently troubled by legal woes and rumours of being on an unsound financial footing. The brokerage received a writ in April from an investor demanding the return of $68 million, which was alleged to have been stolen from his account. A Mansion House broker has been charged by police with falsifying information in relation to the missing millions. In February, Mansion House was also forced to reassure investors that its financial position was secure, following the collapse of fellow brokerage CA Pacific. There have been persistent rumours in the market that the brokerage is being scrutinised by the Securities and Futures Commission and might be in need of financial support from its parent.