John Laing Group eyes Dublin Metro plan

Infrastructure investor interested in backing rail link between city and airport

Convention Centre Dublin operator John Laing Group is interested in backing the proposed metro rail line connecting the city with the airport, according to its chief executive, Andrew Truscott.

John Laing, which took over the convention centre contract last year in a deal with the State, is opening an office in Dublin as it eyes further opportunities in the Republic.

Speaking ahead of the announcement on Wednesday, Mr Truscott said the group, which focuses on investing in infrastructure, was interested in backing the planned rail line from central Dublin to the airport and Malahide in the north of the county.

He agreed that frequent postponements had left many sceptical about the State ever building the Dublin Metro, but pointed out that businesses such as John Laing frequently encountered this.


“I acknowledge that there’s always a risk that projects just don’t happen,” he said. “But if I did not commit time to something because I thought ‘it’s not happening’, then I would not get a lot done.”

Mr Truscott noted that John Laing invested in the Sydney Light Rail system in Australia, which was subject to similar doubts when it was planned.

“If you talk to anyone in Sydney now, they are absolutely delighted with that system,” he added.

John Laing provides capital for new infrastructure development, so would invest in the line, enabling other organisations to design and build it.

The group has businesses in the UK, Europe, US, Colombia, Australia and New Zealand. It has backed road and rail developments, hospitals and schools, power lines and other big engineering projects.

John Laing says that it has supported more than 150 infrastructure developments across these territories.

The Republic’s established public-private partnership system – where private organisations collaborate with the State to build infrastructure – lured the group here, according to Mr Truscott, who said it was “comfortable working in Ireland and with Irish stakeholders”.

Along with the convention centre contract, the group also acquired primary care centre operator Valley Healthcare and telecommunications mast company Towercom in a single deal last year.

Mr Truscott says John Laing is keen to grow these businesses. It has expanded Valley Healthcare from 18 or 19 centres to around 30 while it is looking for new sites for Towercom.

The company is exploring other avenues here including social housing, an area where it has yet to invest in any of its markets, and university accommodation.

Brian Gilroy, managing director of John Laing Ireland and chief executive of Valley Healthcare, will run the Irish business.

He said that John Laing was one of few investors experienced in delivering and managing significant and complex infrastructure with private and public partners.

Barry O'Halloran

Barry O'Halloran

Barry O’Halloran covers energy, construction, insolvency, and gaming and betting, among other areas