China Merchants Holdings (International) - the largest port-operator in western Shenzhen - expects to clinch at least one acquisition by the end of the year, after reporting a 11 per cent fall in interim profit. The red-chip ports to industrial conglomerate posted a net profit of HK$500 million. The main reason for the profit dip was a year on year 53.4 per cent fall in profit at its shipping business - to HK$66 million - and a 33.3 per cent decrease in profit of its container-making operation, to HK$58.4 million. The declines were largely offset by a 27.9 per cent rise in ports management operation profits to HK$217.2 million, and a 49.1 per cent rise in its paint-manufacturing business profit to HK$33.4 million. Year on year turnover rose 6.5 per cent to HK$682.9 million. Directors proposed a seven HK cents per share interim dividend. Its shipping business consists mainly of formerly Singapore-listed oil tanker operator Ming Wah Shipping - privatised last year - while 27.3 per cent-held Shenzhen-listed China International Marine Container is the world's largest maker of containers, with an estimated 40 per cent market share. Some of China Merchants' more prominent Shenzhen port assets include 32.5 per cent of Shekou Container Terminal Phase One, 25.5 per cent of Chiwan Container Terminal and 49 per cent of Mawan berth No 8. It also has 22.1 per cent of Hong Kong's Modern Terminal. Ports in western Shenzhen recorded a year on year 39.5 per cent rise in first-half throughput, but Modern Terminal was down 7.1 per cent (narrowing to a 4.7 per cent fall in the first seven months). The company's toll road operation's profits rose 16.6 per cent to HK$138.5 million, due to HK$22 million gain from two toll-road disposals. Yesterday, management said it expected to book a gain of about HK$60 million in the second half from a June toll-stake sale.