Shares rise after operator looks at investing in city's network MTR Corp is looking at Wuhan's subway expansion plans as it explores beyond its home turf for new income to offset slowing growth in Hong Kong. 'Wuhan, as a major transport hub in central China, is well-advanced in its metro development plans,' said Phil Gaffney, MTR's managing director of operations and business development. The firm, which yesterday signed a preliminary agreement with the Wuhan city government, gave no details of a possible investment. The city's metro network will have a route length of 70km by 2011. The memorandum of understanding between MTR and the Wuhan Urban Construction Investment & Development Group and the city government's planning commission yesterday lifted MTR's share price to a four-year high. The stock rose 1.93 per cent to $13.15 on investor hopes a deal could ease MTR's slowing earnings growth at home. It faces increased competition from buses and the Kowloon-Canton Railway Corp. MTR spokeswoman Wong Chiu-yung said the company would conduct a feasibility study on an investment in Wuhan, which last year completed the 2.2 billion yuan, 10km first phase of its light rail transit system. MTR is one of several Hong Kong-listed companies to sign deals with the governments of Wuhan and Hubei province during a week-long provincial investment fair, Hong Kong-Hubei Week. Hong Kong firms were pioneer investors in Wuhan during the first wave of foreign investments into the region, led by New World Development in 1992. The developer pumped about six billion yuan into property, department stores, hotels and infrastructure projects over the following 10 years. The Hong Kong-Hubei Week, launched on Monday, signified the second wave of foreign investments into the region. Cheung Kong (Holdings) is considering building a theme park but mainland officials yesterday declined to comment. Associate Hutchison Whampoa is committing 1.8 billion yuan to a property project, and Shui On Group and Shimao Holdings will invest 3.4 billion yuan and 3.2 billion yuan respectively in similar ventures. International giants such as Alstom China said it was in talks for a power generation project but president Alain Berger yesterday declined to elaborate.