Property developer Hopewell Holdings' decision to divest two beleaguered infrastructure projects for HK$79.96 million will allow an instant earnings boost and a more focused portfolio, according to deputy managing director Thomas Jefferson Wu. Mr Wu said the divestment was part of the firm's efforts to weed out non-productive assets to focus on the burgeoning Pearl River delta. The assets are a toll highway project in south Luzon, in the Philippines, and a hotel project in Malta. The sales, to former Hopewell director Stewart Elliot, would prompt an exceptional gain of about HK$52 million, based on the assets' combined value of about $28 million on Hopewell's books, Mr Wu said. 'There will be a gain out of the disposals,' he said after the company's annual shareholder meeting yesterday. 'But the significance is we will be able to focus more on the core market - the Pearl River delta region.' Hopewell wants to concentrate on profitable toll-road projects in Guangdong province and property development in Hong Kong after getting burned from its regional expansion as a result of the Asian financial crisis in 1997. The company had since tried to sell its regional assets, with the south Luzon and Malta deals the latest following the US$306 million sale of a power plant in Indonesia in June. The Malta project and its related debts will be sold for HK$70.8 million, while the south Luzon project is going for HK$9.16 million. A key part of the deal is the settlement of a legal wrangle between Hopewell and Mr Elliot. A Hopewell director until 1998, Mr Elliot filed writs against the company in Hong Kong and Malta in 1999 and 2000 over the two projects. Hopewell also initiated legal proceedings against Mr Elliot's company over property rental matters. BNP Paribas Peregrine analyst Jim Wong said the deals were good for Hopewell. 'The company can utilise the proceeds, for example, to distribute dividends or in better investment opportunities.'