John Laing is to grow its overseas business to half of its portfolio within the next four years amid signs that the UK PFI market, which is the company’s largest sector, is slowing, write Sarah Richardson and Roxane McMeeken.

In its first financial announcement since delisting in 2006, when it was bought by Henderson Global Investors, John Laing has revealed that it invested £153m in projects in 2007. This compares with £23m in 2006.

However, chief executive Adrian Ewer said there were signs that the UK PFI market was slowing, and that in response the company would aim to increase its overseas PPP business from 18% of its portfolio to the same size as its UK business in three to four years. The company’s overseas portfolio reached £111m in 2007.

The firm will carry out its expansion through its offices in Canada, New York, Europe, India and Singapore. It is also looking to expand into the Netherlands, the Nordic region and central and eastern Europe, particularly Hungary, Slovakia, the Czech Republic, Romania and Turkey.

John Laing invested £153m in projects in 2007 compared with £23m in 2006.

John Laing is also pursuing projects in the UK in areas outside its traditional strongholds of education and health, including private development schemes for courts, and local authority estate regeneration projects.

It is preferred bidder on its first council estate regeneration project in Tunbridge Wells and is bidding for a similar deal in Croydon. Ewer said such schemes, which involve the successful bidder acting as “development partner” for the council, represented a new form of PFI.

The development partner will be expected to deliver phased regeneration and also to advise the council on managing its assets, including potentially selling surplus land to fund projects.