Cosco (Hong Kong) Group
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Property unit boosts Cosco profit 300pc

Cosco International Holdings, a unit of China Ocean Shipping (Group), said net profit surged 300 per cent in the first half, thanks to earnings from its property unit that it is spinning off.

Profit rose to HK$400.3 million for the first six months from HK$99.8 million a year ago, while turnover increased to HK$1.14 billion from HK$874.4 million.

Cosco, whose core businesses range from container coatings to ship trading to insurance broking, booked profit of HK$328 million from its property joint venture, a rise of 894 per cent from a year ago.

Property firm Sino-Ocean Land Holdings, in which Cosco holds 30.8 per cent, closed retail subscriptions for its Hong Kong initial public offering yesterday. It plans to sell 1.55 billion shares at HK6.45 to HK$7.70 each.

Vice-president Liu Guoyuan said the firm would focus on marine works.

' The mainland could possibly become the biggest shipbuilding market [globally] by 2010 or 2015,' Mr Liu said. 'There is a stable upward trend in the industry.'

Cosco started to restructure its businesses and dispose of non-core assets three years ago, and would need more time to complete the process, he said.

Coatings, ship trading and insurance brokerage contributed to 72 per cent of Cosco's overall turnover in the first half, up 14 percentage points from a year earlier.

Demand for ship trading and supplying services was expected to increase rapidly amid the robust growth in the shipping industry, the company said.

Ship trading and supplying services generated profit of HK$111 million in the first half, up 61.1 per cent from a year earlier. Sales volume of container coatings rose 40.9 per cent to 36,514 tonnes.

The dividend remained at one HK cent a share. The stock closed 2.41 per cent higher at HK$8.91 yesterday after the results announcement.