Hutchison Whampoa Properties refused to confirm yesterday that it planned a large-scale property investment in the central Chinese city of Changsha, despite mainland newspaper reports quoting the Hunan provincial vice-governor as saying an announcement from the company was imminent. Managing director Raymond Chow Wai-kam, attending the Hunan Investment Week trade fair at the Convention and Exhibition Centre yesterday, declined to comment on a report in the Economic Times claiming that his company would acquire a major property project in the provincial capital. 'I'm just here to learn more about Changsha,' said Mr Chow. 'The mainland property market offers some very good opportunities now.' Hong Kong developers have been looking to second-line provinces in recent months as central government implements strict measures in major cities such as Shanghai and Beijing in an effort to cool soaring property prices. Last month, Cheung Kong (Holdings) and Hutchison established joint-venture companies to buy two projects, in Changchun, Jilin province and Changsha for about $800 million. Vice-governor Yu Youjun, speaking on the sidelines of the trade fair - the second in Hong Kong put on by Hunan trade officials in six months - said there would be 3,500 projects on offer to Hong Kong investors worth US$7.6 billion. Mr Yu said most of the projects would be industrial, and included opportunities in machinery, mineral resources, logistics and food processing sectors. Yesterday's activities featured Changsha, which is promoting 500 projects, including 300 in the service industry. Hunan's industrial sector is about half state-owned, but the proportion of private firms is growing rapidly. Foreign contractual investment in the province surged 94.7 per cent last year to 2.6 billion yuan. Realised foreign investment increased by 39.9 per cent to 1.41 billion yuan.