Mainland-backed property developer China Overseas Land & Investment has made its first foray into Macau, spurred by an upbeat outlook on the city's economy and property market. Vice-chairman and chief executive Kong Qingping said the $800 million property investment would be solely developed by the red-chip developer. 'There is a room for an increase in property prices,' Mr Kong said. The company bought a piece of land in Macau with a gross buildable area of about 1.5 million square feet. It will provide about 1,000 units when building is finished by 2006. The investment was unveiled as the company posted a sharp increase in net profit to $688.91 million for the year to December from $41.74 million in 2002. The jump came mainly from a $300 million write-back from its 30 per cent-owned residential project in Stanley - Regalia Bay - following a sharp recovery in luxury home prices in Hong Kong. Turnover rose 19.1 per cent to $7.61 billion. Mr Kong said the Macau project was the company's first investment in the city and it would closely monitor the response before making another move there. Small developer Kowloon Development - through its property arm, Top Milestone Development - has a 1.6 million sqft residential project in Macau, also in anticipation that the market will rebound after suffering a supply glut since 1994. Macau's economy grew 24.6 per cent in the third quarter of last year over the same period in 2002, according to the census and statistics bureau of Macau. Analysts believe the full-year economic growth will achieve double-digit growth. Mr Kong said China Overseas Land, which shifted its focus to the mainland in 1998, would continue to invest in the country and planned to expand in key cities such as Dongguan, Zhuhai, Yantai, Suzhou and Tianjin this year. The company also plans to complete 16 projects this year, which are expected to reap 10 billion yuan in sales. The company has $7.5 billion worth of financial resources available, including cash on hand of $3.8 billion, according to Mr Kong.