Laing O’Rourke on course for float after strong results

Laing O’Rourke is on course with plans to take the UK’s largest private contractor public after unveiling a strong set of results for the year to March 31 2021.

Latest figures show the group made a pre-tax profit of £41.4m from £45.5m despite the impact of Covid-19 as turnover ticked-up to £2.5bn from £2.4bn.

Chief executive Ray O’Rourke is planning to list the business on the stock exchange within the next three years after turning the firm around following a string of losses which ended in 2019.

Slashing bank debts by a total of £182m in the last 18 months has also allowed it to replace a multi-bank finance deal with a single £35m credit facility from HSBC which has cut interest payments.

Shareholders Ray and Des O’Rourke also wrote-off £58m in loans made to the company by converting them to equity in the business.

Chief Financial Officer Rowan Baker confirmed to the Enquirer that floating the business was an option as order books hit £7.9bn and prospects look encouraging for the rest of this financial year.

She said: “There was a significant net cash improvement during the year of £120.9m, and we finished FY21  with net cash of £276.1m. These solid results and strong cash positions enabled us to accelerate  the restructure of our debt facilities and set the foundations for future growth.

“The business has continued to perform strongly in the first half of FY22 and is on track to meet  management’s expectations of continued revenue and margin growth.”

Baker has a listed company background after joining from McCarthy & Stone last year.

O’Rourke said it is planning to invest in a new Risk and Internal Audit function next year which will ensure its systems are “on a par with those seen in operation at premier listed businesses.”

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