Construction giant Leighton Holdings has announced a significant increase in underlying profit for the first half of 2014, albeit with the group recording a fall in headline profit as the previous comparative period was artificially inflated by gains on asset sales.

Announcing its results on Monday for the six months to June 30, Leighton said its earnings before interest, tax, depreciation and amortisation (EBITDA) came in at $843 million whilst its net profit after tax was $291 million – down from $943 million and $366 million in first half of 2013…