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Infrastructure firm John Laing profit tanks; shares fall 9%

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(Reuters) – Infrastructure firm John Laing <JLG.L> reported an 80% slump in first-half earnings on Thursday, hurt by writedowns of some assets in Australia and Europe as well as a one-off gain a year earlier, sending its shares to a six-month low.

Shares fell 9% to 346.4 pence and hit the bottom of the FTSE 250 midcap index.

John Laing’s pretax profit for the six months ended June 30 fell to 35 million pounds from 175 million a year earlier, when it benefited from a one-off gain of 87 million pound from an asset sale.

The company said industry transmission issues at three of its renewable energy assets in Australia in the latest reported period led to a write-down of 66 million pounds, while performance hiccups in its European wind assets impacted it by 55 million pounds.

However, it struck a positive note on forecast for the rest of the year. “We remain confident in delivering our full year expectations, underpinned by the value inherent in our existing portfolio and further penetration of our targeted markets,” Chief Executive Officer Olivier Brousse said.

John Laing was set up in 1848 as a building company based in Carlisle, a city in the North West of England, and has grown to become a major construction firm with investments in more than 140 projects.

Earlier this week, it agreed to buy 30% of the Ruta del Cacao road project in Colombia for about 62 million pounds, a deal that would mark its first investment in Latin America.

(Reporting by Muvija M and Noor Zainab Hussain in Bengaluru; Editing by Arun Koyyur)

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