Share indices in the week to 14 December 2001
LAING ended the worst year in its history with a dose of Christmas cheer this week as it proudly proclaimed that Bill Forrester, presently chief executive of buildings materials group SIG, is taking over from Sir Martin Laing as executive chairman on 1 February. He will joining the firm's board on 1 January.

This will be the first time that the group has had a non-family member in charge since it was formed more than 150 years ago, although the previous incumbent is remaining as a non-executive director – much to the dismay of the City.

Naturally, Forrester talked up Laing's prospects for next year. Of course anything short of total collapse will be good when compared with the year just gone, but he has put his money where his mouth is and splashed out £67,000 on 50,000 Laing shares at 134p each.