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John Laing falls into the red after ‘challenging’ year

John Laing has swung to an annual loss following a tough start to the year, the infrastructure investor said on Thursday.
In the year to 31 December 2020, the loss came in at £65m compared to a pre-tax profit of £100m a year previously. Net asset value eased to £1.53bn from £1.66bn, with NAV per share falling from 337p in 2019 to 310p.

The total dividend has been set at 9.7p per share, compared to 9.5p in 2019.

Chairman Will Samuel said 2020 had been a “challenging” year. “While our PPP portfolio consistently demonstrated its resilience throughout the year, we faced challenges in our renewable energy portfolio, both from certain asset-specific issues – most notably in relation to our solar and biomass projects – as well as adverse external factors, particularly lower power prices which the pandemic served to compound.”

But he insisted John Laing had “turned a corner” in the second half, with NAV growing by 1% over the last six months.

The firm is forecasting a return to underlying NAV growth in 2021, with a step up in growth in 2022 towards its medium-term returns target range.

Chief executive Ben Loomes said: “The solid and stable second half performance is a demonstration of the progress that has been made in the short period of time.

“We enter 2021 in a much stronger position, and in a structurally favourable market for infrastructure investment. We are seeing increased levels of activity and this is reflected both in our growing investment pipeline as well as in the level of interest in acquiring a number of our secondary assets.

“I am confident in the outlook.”

As at 0900 GMT, shares in the FTSE 250 firm were 2% at 324.2p.

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