Dubai ports operator DP World said Wednesday it posted 21 percent surge in net profits in 2012 as the world's third-largest operator unloaded low-return assets and focused on profitable markets. Net profit attributable to shareholders increased to $555 million in 2012 from $459 million registered in 2011, the company said in a statement. Income was up five percent to $3.12 billion driven by strong growth in the Middle East, Europe and Africa, while the consolidated throughput of handled containers dropped one percent to 27.1 million TEU (twenty-foot equivalent unit). "This year, we have continued to actively manage our portfolio to maximum advantage, divesting non-core or low return assets," said DP World Chairman Sultan bin Sulaymen. "This has enabled us to move capital into those markets where we see more profitable returns whilst strengthening our capital base." DP World said this month it was selling its stakes in two Hong Kong container terminals and a logistics centre for $742 million. The company, which operates more than 60 terminals across six continents, said its gross debt has dropped to $2.9 billion as a result of improved cash generation. In August, DP World said it managed to reduce its debt to $4.7 billion mainly due to the repayment of a $3 billion syndicated loan facility in April.