Listed infrastructure group John Laing picks ex-3i man as new chief | Business News

John Laing Group, one of the best-known names in British infrastructure investing, has picked a former 3i executive to be its next boss.

Sky News has learnt that Ben Loomes, who has had a 20-year career in the sector, is to become the new chief executive of the FTSE-250 company.

City sources said that an announcement about Mr Loomes’ appointment could be made to the stock exchange as early as Thursday morning.

Mr Loomes will replace Olivier Brousse, who said in January that he would step down to take on a role at Veolia, the French infrastructure giant.

Under Mr Brousse, John Laing has had a strong run, seeing its share price double over a five-year period.

The company is a big investor in infrastructure projects overseas, with a portfolio that includes major roads in the US, the Optus Stadium in Perth, western Australia, and a German wind farm.

Ed Sheeran performs in concert on the opening night of his Australian tour at Optus Stadium on March 2, 2018 in Perth, Australia.
Image:
Ed Sheeran performs at Optus Stadium in Perth, Australia

In the UK, it was a major player in the £4.7bn Intercity Express rail programme which delivered 122 trains to the east and west coast mainlines.

John Laing was also a pioneer of the Private Finance Initiative and Public Private Partnership models for infrastructure investment which have drawn intense scrutiny over the value they have yielded for British taxpayers.

The company is now examining a diversification of its investment strategy into areas such as digital infrastructure, and was among the bidders for FibreNation, the division of TalkTalk that was sold to CityFibre Holdings earlier this year.

It has also signalled that it will explore investments in energy transition-related activities such as transport electrification.

John Laing’s history dates back to 1848, when it was established in Carlisle as a construction company.

It went on to help build the M1 motorway, Coventry Cathedral and the Severn river crossing.

Mr Loomes began his career as an investment banker at Goldman Sachs and Greenhill, before becoming group head of strategy at 3i in 2012.

He was involved in the turnaround of the FTSE-100 investment group, and was rewarded with the managing partner role at 3i’s standalone infrastructure division in 2014.

There, he led a new strategy to divert capital into higher returning businesses in sectors such as telecoms, authorising acquisitions including the UK-based towers operator, Wireless Infrastructure Group.

Mr Loomes left 3i in 2017 to join Infrared Capital Partners, another infrastructure player with roughly $10bn of assets under management.

While there, he led a multibillion pound investment in High Speed 1, the rail line which connects London to the Channel Tunnel.

Mr Loomes left Infrared last year, ahead of the investor’s sale to Sun Life.

On Wednesday, John Laing shares closed at 367p, giving the company a market value of £1.73bn.

The search for a new chief has been led by Will Samuel, the City grandee who chairs John Laing Group.

A John Laing spokesman declined to comment on the appointment of Mr Brousse’s successor.

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