Zhejiang Expressway expects to grow this year through tariff increases, new acquisitions and improved management of existing toll roads, according to chairman Geng Xiaoping. Growth would also be driven by the full-year contribution from its main asset - the Shanghai-Hangzhou-Ningbo Expressway - which posted a 22.2 per cent gain in toll revenue and average daily traffic volume last year, he said. The company is expected to apply for about a 5.5 per cent toll rise in April for implementation in July and is studying some low-risk and operational projects to provide new growth centres. It was seeking a 16 per cent rate of return from operational projects and 18 per cent from greenfield projects to meet shareholders' expectations, he said. Zhejiang Expressway also revealed that profit for last year rose 30 per cent to 385.25 million yuan (about HK$358.62 million). The result included 120 million yuan in interest income. A dividend of 3.5 fen per share was proposed, up 118.7 per cent year on year, although Mr Geng said the dividend did not have to grow in tandem with net profit. He said the decision to hand out a higher dividend was made on the back of last year's satisfactory performance, the absence of financial pressure and the belief in continued future growth. Director Ying Shudeng said the firm had a net debt to asset ratio of about 48 per cent and total debt to asset ratio of 27 per cent.