Former Multiplex construction boss Paul Gandy has joined Mowlem as managing director of projects and construction.

It is understood that he will attempt to shore up the firm’s construction portfolio while rival contractors Carillion and Balfour Beatty compete to acquire the company.

Gandy told Building: “I can confirm that I joined Mowlem on Monday and will be managing director of projects and construction. I cannot say any more at this stage. It’s very early days.”

Gandy left Multiplex at the end of the summer after a spell in Gibraltar. He would not be drawn on the reasons why he left. However, it is understood that he had been in the process of setting up his own PFI consulting business before being offered the job at Mowlem at the end of last year.

Gandy was at Multiplex from 2000 to 2004, including two years as project director of Wembley stadium. Before that he was director of Kvaerner’s UK building business.

At Mowlem he will replace David Liming, who quit in November to go to Carillion.

Meanwhile, it emerged this week that Mowlem turned down a £180m offer from a secondary PFI equity investor for its equity portfolio. It is thought to have turned it down to enable Carillion to buy in full.

Meanwhile, Carillion has told analysts that it is looking to sell some of Mowlem’s equity stakes, and it will be pleased that the offer has given it a guideline price.

Mowlem’s shareholders meet on 30 January to vote on the offer from Carillion. To comply with takeover rules, Balfour must act before 20 January if it wishes to launch a counter-offer.

Because Carillion’s share price has risen from 291p before Christmas to 319p now, Balfour would have to pay more for Mowlem under the terms of Carillion’s bid, which included 0.46 of a Carillion share for each of Mowlem’s.

It is thought that two asset management firms with a total shareholding in Mowlem of 17% will only drop their support for Carillion if a rival bid is 10% higher.