John Laing says profit improved in second half of 2004 and results for year are in line with expecations.

John Laing made a profit of £6.4m when it sold its interest in the M40 less than a year after investing in the road project.

The infrastructure development and operations company said it sold its stake in the M4 to Secondary Market Infrastructure Fund in September for £26.3m. Laing said that the sale would help the company improve profit in the second half of 2004, and would enable it to meet market expectations for the year ended December 2004.

The firm said that Laing Rail, Laing Roads and its PFI/PPP accommodation arm Equion all traded successfully and made good progress in securing new opportunities during the period.

It said that the strong performance of Laing Roads was underpinned by the strong financial performances of the Severn River Crossing and M40 road projects.

At Equion 17 public sector projects reached completion and were handed over on time. It has a further 27 facilities under construction including schools, hospitals, local health facilities, police and court facilities.

In the utilities sector Laing said that late delivery of enabling works on the London Underground Connect Project resulted in a first half loss of £1.1m. Laing said lossess would not reoccur in the second half but said that there is an ongoing dispute between the project company and the client regarding responsibility for the delays.

Laing reached financial close on 11 projects in 2004, in which Laing’s equity commitment was £13.6m. Forward equity commitment on signed projects at 31 December 2004 stood at £33.4m.