Laing this week revealed that it has lost £217m on its construction division over the past two years.
Laing said the business, which was sold to Ray O'Rourke last September, lost £94.5m last year and £88.9m in 2000. The sale cost Laing another £33.6m.

Bill Forrester, chairman of Laing, said all the construction losses had now been accounted for.

He said: "Further progress has been made through renegotiation of agreements on the National Physical Laboratory contract, and this underlines the board's view that adequate provision has been made against all of these liabilities within the 2001 accounts."

The NPL contract alone is believed to have cost Laing more than £60m.

Adequate provision has been made against all of the liabilities within the 2001 accounts

Bill Forrester, chairman, Laing

Laing said its remaining housing, investments and property businesses performed well last year and posted operating profits of £84.5m, up from £71.6m in 2000. Overall, Laing posted a pre-tax loss of £24.7m on turnover of £1.1bn.

Laing Homes' profit increased slightly from £53m to £53.3m on turnover of £381.3m, up from £352.3m in 2000, and margins fell from 16.4% to 15.6%. Laing's average selling price in the UK fell from £238,000 in 2000 to £227,000, and sales increased to 1375 units from 1235.

Forrester said he had not decided yet whether to sell the housing division and added there had been no undue City pressure to do so.