Swire Pacific returned to profitability last year following record profit at its beverage unit, aided by significantly lower losses and impairment charges at its aviation and marine businesses. The Hong Kong-based conglomerate reported an underlying profit of HK$5.3 billion (US$677 million), compared with a loss of HK$3.9 billion in 2020, according to a filing to the Hong Kong stock exchange on Thursday. Turnover rose 15 per cent to HK$92.4 billion. “Whilst the impact of Covid-19 continued to be felt across all our divisions and the operating environment remained challenging in 2021, overall our businesses made a significant turnaround,” chairman Guy Bradley said in a statement. Its airline business under Cathay Pacific Airways on Wednesday trimmed losses to HK$5.5 billion, compared with a record loss of HK$21.6 billion in 2020. While the carrier’s passenger services were hammered by strict Covid-19 travel curbs, its cargo business mitigated the slump. The company’s beverages division, Swire Coca-Cola, reported a 23 per cent jump in attributable profit to a record HK$2.5 billion from 2020 when business was severely affected by the pandemic. Swire also sold its marine services businesses. In September, it completed the sale of its 50 per cent interested in HUD Group, while on Wednesday, it entered into an agreement to sell its interest in Swire Pacific Offshore. Houston-based Tidewater will acquire all existing shares of Swire Pacific Offshore for about US$190 million, creating the world’s largest fleet of offshore supply vessels. Swire Pacific’s fleet consists of 29 anchor handling towing vessels and 21 platform supply vessels. The disposal of Swire Pacific Offshore aligns with the company’s strategy to focus on its core businesses, Bradley said at a press briefing after the results were released. “The deal has been something we have been thinking about for sometime in terms of disposing of noncore businesses,” Bradley said. The proceeds of the sale will be mainly used for property development and its health care business. Despite Hong Kong still virtually cut off from the rest of the world, Bradley said Swire had no plans to sell its 45 per cent stake in Cathay. While the city’s approach to tackling the latest Covid-19 outbreak has been criticised by foreign business groups and expatriates leaving the city in droves, Bradley said Hong Kong’s best days are still ahead. “We think [talent leaving] is temporary,” he said. “We feel Hong Kong is a great place for business in the medium and long-term. We are confident that whoever leaves Hong Kong will be coming back.” Swire Pacific said it would pay a dividend of HK$1.20 per share, up from HK$1 a year ago. Meanwhile, real estate arm Swire Properties reported a 25 per cent decline in profit attributable to shareholders to HK$9.5 billion “due primarily to the reduction in profit from the sale of noncore assets in Hong Kong.” Recurring underlying profit was little changed at HK$7.2 billion. Bradley, who is also the chairman of Swire Properties, said the company continues to ride through the challenges posed by the pandemic. “Looking ahead, we will continue to focus on opportunities in Hong Kong, the Chinese mainland and Southeast Asia, based on an ambitious investment pipeline of over HK$100 billion in these markets over the next 10 years.” Cities in Southeast Asia that are on the developer’s radar are Ho Chi Minh City, Singapore, Bangkok and Jakarta. Swire Properties declared a second dividend for 2021 of HK$0.64 per share, bringing the full year total payout to HK$0.95 per share.