Former contractor announces that it is in talks to sell its last contracting subsidiary, Holloway White Allom.
Laing is poised to finally exit the building business after 153 years. The group announced this week that it is in talks to sell upmarket specialist contractor Holloway White Allom, its only remaining construction concern.

The £50m-turnover contractor is being sold along with the rest of Laing's property division. The aim is to amass £120m to pay off debt and fund planned PFI and housing investment. The property division made a pre-tax profit of £13.2m last year, and City opinion is that the group will be looking to get more than £40m for it.

A Laing source said: "We've had a couple of approaches, but the banks want the best possible price. Talks are under way."

Once a deal is completed, it is likely that Holloway White Allom would be sold on to another contractor or bought out by its management.

A company source said this week: "I don't think the companies we're talking with would be interested in keeping the contracting business, so it will probably be sold on."

Kier is among a group of major contractors that could be interested in an eventual purchase of the contracting business.

We have had approaches, but the banks want the best possible price

Laing source

Holloway White Allom, which was founded in 1880, specialises in high-end contracting. It was the main contractor for Oxford University's Saïd Business School and the New Haberdashers' Hall in London. It also refurbishes expensive and listed homes in south-east England.

The group also plans to sell its stake in Spanish motorway toll operator Europistas for about £50m and some of its PFI stakes for £35m. Its central London office and HQ in north London may also be hived off, raising another £6-7m. This money will be put into a fund that the company will then manage.

A Laing spokesperson denied City speculation that it was planning to sell its housing arm. He said: "The housing business earns good money and we need the income from it. To say that we are wanting to sell it is nonsense."

Laing's share price has started rising again after plummeting to 95p after the sale of the construction division was announced. It was up to 130p earlier this week. The shares peaked at 530p in March.