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19May94 UK: LAING KEEN ON PRIVATE FINANCE - ANNUAL REPORT.

Laing's enthusiasm for international construction and privately financed infrastructure projects were emphasised in the group's annual report last week.Martin Laing also stressed the potential in the Far East which, he said, offered a significant opportunity for Laing due to the continuing growth in its economies and the need to develop its infrastructure.The group has recently won Malaysian government approval for a £12.2 million investment in the first independent power project to be licensed in the country. It has also invested in a fund which will specialise in projects in Vietnam.Laing was considering other projects which would bring construction opportunities through equity investments.But Mr Laing warned that the beginnings of an improvement evident late last year were modest and unsatisfactory profit margins would continue to affect the group's construction division.Last year, operating profits before exceptional items at Laing's construction division fell to £9.9 million from £23.4 million. CONSTRUCTION NEWS