MORE than 150 years ago, John Laing started his construction company; now it is up for sale, writes Building columnist Alistair McAlpine.
Laing is not the best British firm of builders, but it is a distinguished one – even Laing's competitors will feel a touch of sadness as it ceases to be managed as a family firm and becomes part of some new conglomerate.

Its sale begs the question of why anyone would sell a company such as this, especially one that has been controlled by the same family for so long.

Well, the answer can only be that the remaining Laings have decided there are easier ways to earn a living than running a construction company.

They are right, of course, in a world littered with suckers ready to buy construction companies and apparently too eager for financial punishment.

Laing should quickly be picked up by a foreigner keen to lay hands on the fruits of what is wrongly perceived by outsiders to be a soft British market.

The thought that Laing will now follow the sad trail of Trafalgar House beggars belief. Far better if this fine company is brought in a management buy-out by the people who know how to run it and understand fully the financial implications of the company they are taking on.