Beijing Enterprises Holdings, the Hong Kong-listed investment arm of the city government, said first-half earnings rose 14 per cent, driven mainly by strong growth in its toll road business. Underlying profit rose to HK$242 million for the six months to June compared with HK$212 million a year earlier, while consolidated turnover grew 24 per cent to HK$6.36 billion. Including exceptional items, net profit slumped 96 per cent to HK$13.99 million from HK$326.9 million, worse than JP Morgan's forecast of HK$64 million. The firm proposed an interim dividend of 10 HK cents a share. Exceptional items included a one-off loss of HK$233 million from converting state-owned shares in Beijing Yanjing Brewery into tradable ones. Its stake in the unit fell to 43.29 per cent from 50.13 per cent after the share conversion. Profit from its beer and winery operations fell 19 per cent to HK$54.6 million. However, a 14 per cent gain from the Capital Airport Expressway to HK$118.9 million and almost four-times growth in profit from Wangfujing Department Store (Group) to HK$45.3 million helped support Beijing Enterprises' earnings. The red-chip conglomerate, which also runs businesses in the water treatment and technology sectors, wants to buy the gas business from its parent as part of its strategy of refocusing on infrastructure and utilities. Executive director Bai Jingrong said the acquisition of Beijing Gas is still under regulatory review and is unlikely to be completed this year.