Major Newcastle hospital PFI deal reaches financial close.

Healthcare Support (Newcastle), a consortium led by Equion Ltd and the Commonwealth Bank of Australia, has won a £300 million PFI contract for the refurbishment and FM of the Royal Victoria Infirmary and Freeman Hospital for the Newcastle-upon-Tyne hospitals NHS Trust. The project will bring all acute hospital services from three to two sites, providing a total of 926 beds.

Construction work will be carried out by John Laing, who wholly own Equion, with FM services from Interserve over a period of 38 years. Building is due to commence in May 2005, with the completion date for all works set for April 2013.

Chief Executive of John Laing Andy Friend said: “This is a very significant PFI project that will lead to improved healthcare provision for the North East, particularly in relation to the treatment of cancer. The extended construction programme underlines the scale of this project - there is a lot to be done but now that financial close has been achieved we can make a start."

"This is the fourth and by far the largest project that we have brought to financial close in the opening months of 2005, and it has attracted keenly priced debt support. Our portfolio now consists of 46 projects and we have a strong pipeline of further investment opportunities on which to deliver. This transaction is a significant milestone in the continued development of the Group's programme of investment in PFI/PPP projects."