John Laing puts £100m tag on construction arm

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The Independent Online

John Laing, the 150-year-old building firm, put its lossmaking construction arm up for sale yesterday with a £100m price tag, marking a change of direction for the group.

John Laing, the 150-year-old building firm, put its lossmaking construction arm up for sale yesterday with a £100m price tag, marking a change of direction for the group.

The construction business has been hit by a series of poorly performing projects in recent years, including the troubled Millennium Stadium in Cardiff, which ran hugely over cost. Laing lost £26m on the high-profile stadium, which opened last year.

Last October, Laing announced a reorganisation of the division, one of the best-known construction businesses in the country, which involved the loss of 850 of its 2,800 employees. Having restructured the business, Laing said it was now in a condition for sale. After the disposal, Laing will concentrate on higher-margin housebuilding and infrastructure work, under the Government's Private Finance Initiative, and its railway business.

Sir Martin Laing, the chairman, said: "The Laing Group strategy is moving in a different direction and as the focus on Laing Homes, Laing Property and Laing Investments intensifies, it is possible that the ... Construction Division will become frustrated over their business' development."

The company said its construction arm needed to be part of a bigger building group that could offer the stronger balance sheet necessary to win work. The construction division made a loss of £19m in the first half of this year. Laing said that it was not yet in negotiations with potential buyers.

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