Hopewell Holdings and subsidiary Hopewell Highway Infrastructure have proposed to pay special dividends totalling HK$5.42 billion after bowing out of financing the proposed Hong Kong-Macau-Zhuhai bridge, Hopewell Holdings chief operating officer Thomas Wu said. The funds earmarked for the bridge would form part of special dividends to be given out by the two Hong Kong-listed firms, said Mr Wu, who is also Hopewell Highway's managing director. 'We believe Hopewell Highway should be a developer, not a financier, of the bridge. We will not participate in building the bridge,' he said. On Monday, the joint working group on the bridge sent out invitations to partner the governments of Hong Kong, Macau and Zhuhai to finance the bridge, on which construction is expected to start by 2010. The bridge was proposed 25 years ago by Mr Wu's father, Sir Gordon Wu Ying-sheung, the chairman of Hopewell Holdings. The Wus had previously expressed interest in playing a key role in the bridge. 'It's not us changing our minds. The governments want to keep toll rates low, so they said thank you for the idea to my father,' Mr Wu said. Yesterday, Hopewell Highway, a toll road firm, and Hopewell Holdings, a property firm, announced they would give out HK$2.495 billion and HK$2.925 billion as special dividends, respectively. Hopewell Holdings will receive HK$1.822 billion from Hopewell Highway's payout for its 73 per cent stake in the company. Sir Gordon, who directly owns 16.7 per cent of Hopewell Holdings and 0.75 per cent of Hopewell Highway, will get at least HK$507 million. Mr Wu will also take at least HK$91.3 million for his 2.91 per cent stake in Hopewell Holdings and 0.25 per cent stake in Hopewell Highway. Mr Wu declined to comment on rumours that his father wanted to raise money from the special dividends after losses in his private investments during the current global crisis. He quoted a Cantonese saying: 'A good son does not dig into his father's inheritance. 'I consider myself a good son. It's not company policy to ask directors to disclose their personal investments.' The special dividends were meant to improve balance sheet management and enhance return on equity since interest rates on bank deposits were low, Mr Wu said. Hopewell Highway had HK$5.18 billion in bank balances and cash, while Hopewell Holdings had HK$3.96 billion on October 15.