The agreement is conditional upon the approval of John Laing's shareholders at an extraordinary general meeting on 31 October.
The sale will enable John Laing to focus on its infrastructure investment business, a leading player in Government private finance initiatives. It is the third major disposal for the group in a difficult 18 months. It had a rescue rights issue last year and the construction arm was sold to O'Rourke for just £1 in June 2001. The property side was sold to Kier Developments in April for £40m.
It is the first significant corporate deal that Pinsents has handled for the company. Freshfields has been the main corporate adviser in the past and CMS Came-ron McKenna advised on the Kier disposal.
It is also the first transaction that Pinsents has worked on since Bill Forrester replaced Sir Martin Laing as executive chairman in February. Forrester was previously chief executive of Sheffield-based SIG, a longstanding client of Pinsents' head of corporate in Leeds Martin Shaw, who led the team on this deal. Pinsents also advised Laing's financial adviser ING Barings.
Shaw said: “We're delighted to have brought this deal to a successful conclusion after five months of interesting and exhausting work. From the information memorandum stage through to the signing of conditional contracts, we had to deal with enormous logistical problems, including the due diligence on Laing Homes' 206 sites and major issues relating to employment, pensions, tax, intellectual property and banking.”
The firm's national corporate group completed 264 deals in 2001 with a total value of more than £9bn. Its Leeds office has completed 28 deals in the past four months with a total deal value of more than £493m. Clients include BOC, Barclays, Speedy Hire, Aviva and Skipton Building Society.
Slaughter and May advised George Wimpey.