Li & Fung has given a strong indication it plans a special dividend payment after being unable to find suitable acquisition targets. Managing director William Fung Kwok-lun said the trading firm had cash on hand of more than $500 million and had been searching for the past two years for companies that would dovetail with its existing operations. 'We won't buy companies for the sake of buying. It is hard to find the right target,' he said after the company's general meeting yesterday. He said the firm probably would distribute the cash to shareholders, most of whom are fund managers. 'If acquisition proposals bear no fruit at the end of our three-year plan in 2001, we are likely to return the cash to shareholders. 'It's unlikely that we will find what we want during the next couple of years. After all we have been holding the cash for quite a period of time,' he said. If the dividend payout materialises, the Fung family - which owns half the company's shares - will get $256 million or about 80 cents a share. Li & Fung - which sources merchandise such as clothes, shoes and cosmetics in recession-hit markets in Asia but distributes them in strong markets in the United States and Europe - launched a three-year plan for growth last year. The plan sought to double net profit to about $900 million in 2001 from $455.16 million last year. He added the company was well on track to meeting the target in the wake of an encouraging performance during the first quarter this year. He dismissed worries signs of over-heating financial markets in the US might have an impact on consumer demand. 'We are in the consumer market, not the stock market,' he said. 'According to our history in the US, we do well amid ups and downs.'