John Laing seals close on Queensland rolling stock

The landmark comes two months after a consortium involving the UK firm, which just hired a new CEO, was picked as preferred bidder.

John Laing, the UK infrastructure developer, has reached financial close on the New Generation Rollingstock project (NGR) in Queensland, Australia.

The NGR project, which John Laing won as part of a bid team led by Canada’s Bombardier Transportation last November, involves the delivery and maintenance of 75 six-coach trains for the South East Queensland suburban passenger rail network. With a duration of 30 years, the contract also includes the construction and maintenance of a depot facility.

The Department of Transport and Main Roads is delivering the project alongside Projects Queensland, while Queensland Rail is providing technical expertise to integrate the new trains with the existing network. Testing of the first train is expected to start in approximately two years.

“This is a significant achievement for John Laing, not only because it builds upon our previous success in our key regional markets of Australia and New Zealand but also because financial close has been achieved in such a short space of time,” said Anthony Phillips, John Laing’s head of primary investments for Asia Pacific.

The company has been regaining momentum since the turmoil it suffered in the aftermath of the financial crisis, when it was hit by a sharp slowdown in activity in the construction industry and vast unmet pension liabilities.

The group posted £64.3 million (€78 million; $106.7 million) in profits before tax in the six months to end June 2012, compared to a loss before tax of £5.4 million during the same period last year. It also made £45 million of fresh investments in the first half of 2013, and was part of one of the four teams shortlisted to deliver Maryland’s Purple Line Public Private Partnership project (P3) earlier this year.

Today’s announcement will further ease John Laing along the tracks of recovery before Olivier Brousse, a former executive chairman at environmental services firm Saur Group, takes the helm of the company at the end of March. He will succeed Adrian Ewer, current chief executive, who announced his intention to retire last year.

John Laing is owned by the London-based asset manager Henderson Equity Partners, via its single-asset, £573 million PFI Fund II.