China Merchants Holdings (International), a port operator that handles about 33 per cent of the mainland's container terminal throughput, is keen to acquire 25 per cent of Chiwan Container Terminal (CCT) from Kerry Logistics so as to capture cargo growth in western Shenzhen. 'Chiwan is an excellent port with solid throughput growth. We are interested' in buying Kerry's stake, chairman Fu Yuning said yesterday after briefing the press on China Merchants' first-half results. Mr Fu (right) said the company is not in talks on a sale although China Merchants, whose 22 per cent-owned Chiwan Wharf has a 54 per cent stake in CCT, can preempt any potential bidder. The valuation of the stake should not be higher than 12 times profit, given that Kerry is only a passive shareholder, he said. China Merchants is also studying an overseas acquisition, Mr Fu said. China Merchants earlier said core first-half profit rose 14.5 per cent to HK$1.14 billion. Net profit rose 3.8 per cent to HK$1.2 billion after a property revaluation last year. Turnover rose 21 per cent to HK$8.29 billion. Container throughput at western Shenzhen ports rose 11.5 per cent in the first half to 4.34 million 20-feet equivalent units (teu). Chiwan Wharf handled 3.31 million teu, up 19.5 per cent. The port division's profit before interest and tax, which accounts for 70 per cent of total profit, grew 84.5 per cent to HK$1.29 million, mainly due to a HK$408 million contribution from the newly acquired Shanghai International Port Group (SIPG). A special gain is expected after a proposed backdoor A-share listing of SIPG, with China investors valuing the unit at 26 times its expected earnings, Mr Fu said. The firm bought 30 per cent of SIPG in June last year, valuing it at about 10 times earnings. The size of the one-off gain is yet to be determined. China Merchants' 27 per cent-owned Modern Terminals, which handled 2.4 per cent more containers, contributed 16 per cent less profit due to finance costs and a fall in handling charges in Hong Kong. Seven berths are due to come on stream this half and two next year. The first-half dividend was unchanged at 17 HK cents. Kerry Logistics and the SCMP Group are both controlled by the Kerry Group.