Support services group set to make a handsome profit on PFI contracts bought for bargain price of £29.1m.
Support services group Laing is already starting to make a healthy return on the eight PFI contracts it bought from Amey in March for a knockdown price of £29.1m.

Laing made a profit of £900,000 on the 25- to 30-year contracts in the three months following their purchase from Amey, which was in financial trouble.

Laing finance director Adrian Ewer said the contracts had already gone up in value. He said: "The contracts are already worth more than that [£29.1m]. We are already seeing some growth in value."

Laing said it now has 32 PFI and PPP contracts, of which 23 are fully operational and revenue-producing. Ewer expects four or five more contracts to reach financial close in the second half of the year.

One of these, a maintenance facilities contract for the RAF in Wales that is estimated to have a project value of about £40m, has been signed in the past month.

The contracts are now worth more than £29.1m. We are already seeing growth in value

Adrian Ewer, Laing finance director

Laing's pre-tax profit for the first six months of the year was £5.1m, a sharp fall from £17.9m in the same period last year. However, last year's figure included proceeds from the group's housing business, which contributed £18.3m. This was sold to Wimpey in October for £297m.

The sale of the housing business gave Laing the funds it needed to buy the PFI contracts and transform the company from a traditional contractor into a specialist in PFI and PPPs.

It also led to a big cut in turnover, from £285.3m in the first half of 2002 to £117.2m in the first half of this year.