Hopewell Holdings plans to expand its Guangdong toll-road projects after its infrastructure business boosted profit growth in the six months to December 31. Announcing the interim result yesterday, executive director Robert Nien Van-jin said a substantial rise was recorded in joint-venture earnings, although there was a decline in directly controlled businesses. Turnover slumped a year-on-year 34.75 per cent to HK$627 million from HK$961 million previously, while operating profit fell 26.13 per cent to HK$277 million from HK$375 million. However, most of the company's infrastructure projects were held through joint ventures with up to a 50 per cent interest, and not included in the turnover and operating profit figures. Income from such joint ventures increased more than 1.25 times to HK$239 million from HK$106 million in the same period the previous year. The increase was enough to offset the drop in turnover and allow slight net profit growth of 3.12 per cent, to HK$165 million from HK$160 million a year before. Chief operating officer Thomas Wu said average daily traffic on the Guangzhou-Shenzhen Superhighway increased 13 per cent to 121,000 vehicles. 'The continued growth rates of [gross domestic product] and car ownership in Guangdong province reflects an increasing income level of the people, which will lead to higher usage of highways,' Mr Wu said. Deputy managing director Josiah Kwok Chin-lai said construction of the 50 per cent owned Guangzhou-Shenzhen-West superhighway began in December. 'The new road will connect the existing East-South-West Ring Road and Shunde Road so we expect a merge effect [between the three roads] will be derived,' he said.