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John Laing Group hands out special divi then asks shareholders to stump up for new shares

New investment committed during 2017 rose to £382.9mln from £181.9mln the year before, which probably explains the cash call
Bridge in process of being built
John Laing plans to use the proceeds to invest in public private partnership (PPP) projects, renewable energy assets and in other appropriate greenfield infrastructure assets

John Laing Group PLC (LON:JLG), the infrastructure investment firm, is tapping shareholders for more funds after making record investment commitments in 2017.

The company is to raise around £210.2mln by means of an underwritten rights issue on the basis of 1 new share for every 3 held at 177p a pop. The funds will be used to take advantage of a larger proportion of its growing pipeline of opportunities.

READ: John Laing to take £3mln hit to replace insolvent Carillion as facilities manager on projects

The company is not so short of funds that it cannot afford to pay out a special dividend of 4.88p to supplement the final dividend for 2017 of 3.82p, making the full-year pay-out 10.61p, up from 8.15p the year before.

The investment company saw a 10.5% increase in net asset value in 2017 to £1.12bn from £1.02bn at the end of 2016. Net asset value (NAV) per share at the end of 2017 was 306p, up from 277p a year earlier; the shares currently trade at around 260.2p, down 14p after today’s rights call.

Profit before tax slipped to £126.0mln in 2017 from £192.1mln in 2016.

External assets under management rose 12% to £1.47bn at the end of 2017 from £1.65bn at the end of the previous year.

"2017 was a strong year for John Laing. We made record investment commitments, driven in large part by our success in our core Asia Pacific and North America markets,” said Olivier Brousse, John Laing’s chief executive officer.

“We continued to grow our pipeline, 95% of which is now made up of opportunities outside the UK, and to scale up our business. We are exclusively focused on investment in greenfield projects that meet our strict criteria, and our strategy remains to generate value for shareholders through growth in NAV and dividends," he added.

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