The Holloway White Allom disposal was put on ice while Laing finalised the sale of its property arm. A source close to the deal said: "Laing staff have been concentrating totally on the property business sale so haven't really even looked at the Holloway White Allom disposal yet. The people at the firm are hopeful the attention will turn to them now – and a deal shouldn't be too far away."
A management buyout led by Holloway White Allom managing director Bob Cole is believed to be the most likely deal for the £50m turnover business, which specialises in upmarket niche contracts. Laing is believed to have received at least one other bid for it.
Kier and the Bank of Scotland have raised £91.6m to buy Laing Property and fund their joint venture, which is called Kier Developments and replaces an earlier joint venture between Laing and Bank of Scotland.
The £91.6m is made up of £16m from Kier, £16m from the Bank of Scotland and a £59.6m loan taken out by Kier Developments. The joint venture has paid Laing £40m for the business and will use the remaining funds to clear the property arm's debts and as working capital.
Holloway are hopeful that attention should turn to them now – and a deal shouldn’t be too far away
Source close to the Laing sale
Kier finance director Deena Mattar said the group had been looking to buy a property business and Laing's, with its operations in the southern half of England, was the best to come on to the market. She said it would be run as a stand-alone operation.
"It's a major step for our property business. We will grow the business and develop it further. It's not a case of just developing it out," she said. "It has 23 properties, from those under construction … to land without planning."
Kier expects its venture to contribute to group profit in two years' time.
Laing sold its property division as part of the effort to raise £120m to cut group debt, after building up losses of almost £200m at Laing Construction, which was sold to concrete subcontractor O'Rourke last year.