China Merchants Holdings (International) will invest HK$1 billion in the second half of this year after reporting a 20.3 per cent year-on-year rise in first-half net profit to HK$511.89 million, helped by substantial exceptional gains. Turnover at the transport and infrastructure company, the Hong Kong-listed arm of the mainland's Ministry of Communications, was HK$741.23 million for the six months to June 30, a 3.2 per cent decline from the previous corresponding period. The firm's HK$144.33 million exceptional gain consisted of HK$49.56 million from vessel insurance claims, HK$29.52 million from the disposal of 15.2 per cent-held associate Southern Glass, and HK$65.23 million from the disposal of associate China Merchant Port Services (CMPS). The CMPS gain arose from its issuance of 80 million A shares at a price higher than the per-share investment cost paid by China Merchants. Managing director Zhao Huxiang attributed the decline in turnover to the exclusion of contributions from the group's investment in the Guiliu Expressway in Guangxi province. 'We are taking a conservative approach in our profit reporting, as we are yet to receive government approval for the sale of a 40 per cent stake in the toll road,' he said, adding that he expected approval within two weeks. The company will book its share of the toll road's profit for the entire year in its second-half results. China Merchants struck an agreement in May with its Guangxi joint-venture partner after the latter failed to pay HK$220 million in guaranteed profits last year. The agreement allowed China Merchants to sell to its partner half of its 80 per cent stake for HK$930 million, and to take 90 per cent of the toll-road earnings for 10 years starting this year, and 40 per cent for the next 15 years. The Guiliu Expressway recorded net profit of about HK$2 million in the first half. Mr Zhao said if the Guiliu Expressway was excluded from the results, the firm would have seen a 20 per cent year-on-year rise in overall turnover. He said combined profits from its other toll-road investments had risen less than 5 per cent. Ports and ports-related businesses, which accounted for just over 30 per cent of turnover, reported a 53.4 per cent year-on-year growth in net profit to HK$245.37 million. Paint and container manufacturing saw a 130.3 per cent net profit surge to HK$101.55 million. After investing about HK$1 billion in a mainland highway and various ports projects, Mr Zhao said the firm was planning to spend a further HK$1 billion in the second half, mainly on its existing ports business.