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In The Markenmore Mystery (1922) by J. S. Fletcher, a financier was talking about another murdered financier who would have been his partner in a business deal of purchasing a secret of a formula for manufacturing a valuable dye:

Now, very recently, Markenmore wrote to me that he had a business deal on in which I should find it profitable to join, with the idea of developing its results in the States.

Does it mean "growing its returns"?

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If you develop a business, you make it grow bigger and more successful (3), which, eventually, will bring you more profit.

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