Cheung Kong Infrastructure (Holdings) (CKI) is planning to increase investments in high-technology projects this year to bolster its bottom line, according to chairman Victor Li Tzar-kuoi. 'We will have many new developments in the technology sectors, ranging from environmental-protection projects to building materials to electronic-infrastructure investments,' said Mr Li. CKI announced yesterday earnings in the year to December 31 grew 10 per cent from a year earlier to $3.14 billion. Despite CKI's push into the hi-tech sector, traditional infrastructure projects would remain the company's main focus, Mr Li said. CKI had short-listed environmental-protection projects in North America, Australia and the mainland, and acquisitions were expected this year, said executive director Barrie Cook. CKI was also considering purchasing a paper-recycling company in Australia for more than $100 million, he said. Despite CKI's profit rise last year, turnover dropped 6.92 per cent from a year earlier to $3.06 billion. Earnings per share were $1.39, against $1.27. The final dividend was 29 cents a share, taking the year's total payouts to 42 cents a share. The energy division, which derived income mostly from Hongkong Electric Holdings and mainland power investments, continues to be the company's top profit earner. Last year, it accounted for 64 per cent of net profit. The infrastructure materials division contributed 21.6 per cent to net profit, followed by the transportation division, accounting for 15 per cent. The transportation and energy divisions recorded gains in profit growth, but infrastructure materials earnings fell due to a sluggish market and lower prices. At the end of last year, CKI's investments outside Hong Kong amounted to $19 billion - $10 billion in the mainland and $9 billion in Australia. CKI's net debt-to-equity ratio was 11.4 per cent, with cash on hand of $1.44 billion and debt of $3.97 billion. CKI said its financial strength enabled it to launch aggressive investment in capital-extensive infrastructure businesses.