Infrastructure investment group John Laing has announced its return to the stock market, which could value the company at up to £1bn.

John Laing

The initial public offering, which will be the first major flotation in London this year, will help fund the company’s plans for international expansion.

Phil Nolan, John Laing’s chairman, said: “John Laing has made significant progress as a private company, reshaping its business to focus purely on infrastructure activities, expanding internationally and establishing a sizeable third party fund management business.

“A move to public ownership and raising new capital, having secured a record volume of new investment commitments over the past year, represents a natural next step for the business.

“I believe that the Group is well placed to take advantage of the opportunities that exist in its markets internationally.”

John Laing is a major player in Britain’s public-private partnership field, working on projects including the new Severn River bridge and supplying the fleet of new express trains for the east and west coast main lines.

The company is led by chief executive Olivier Brousse, who was brought in last year to steer its change of ownership. The listing is not expected to result in any changes of senior management, with Nolan remaining in place. The company will appoint three non-executive directors. Jeremy Beeton, former director-general of the Olympic Executive, will join David Rough, a former chief investment officer at Legal & General, and Anne Wade. a director of social investment group Big Society Capital and formerly director of Capital International, on the board.

In recent years the company has looked increasingly overseas for investment opportunities. Five years ago 70% of its work was in the UK but now 70% is abroad, and the float will help finance its assault on foreign projects, with the US seen as a major target.

Projects around the world John Laing is involved in include the 60,000-seat Perth stadium in Australia, highways in Denver and Florida in the US, wind farms across Europe and prisons in New Zealand.

The company can trace its history back to 1848, when it was started as a building company based in Carlisle. It expanded to become a leading construction business, working on projects including the M1 motorway, Sizewell B nuclear power station, Coventry Cathedral, and in 1953 it listed on the London Stock Exchange. Following it acquisition by fund manager Henderson, the group delisted from the exchange December 2006

Gross proceeds from the primary offering of around £130m will be used to fund new investment commitments and for general corporate purposes. Proceeds will also be used to pay one-off costs related to the Offer and Admission

In addition, Henderson is expected to sell a portion of its shareholding in the Offer The Offer will comprise an Institutional Offer and an Intermediaries Offer to facilitate participation by retail investors..

The company currently has 88 projects under way and has invested in 109 since 1969. The company has assets under management of £1.9bn and last year made a pre-tax profit of £125.8m, up from £80.9m the year before.

It is understood that that Henderson is listing the business as its funds work on a 10-year basis, meaning it is looking to exit its investment.

John Laing is being advised on the flotation by RBC, with HSBC and Barclays acting as book runners for the deal. Greenhill is advising on the float and Freshfields are the legal advisers.