ODA hires project manager behind Ascot racecourse as 2012 Olympics' construction director.

The job of overseeing the construction of the London 2012 Olympic Games is to be handed to eminent project manager Howard Shiplee.

Building understands that the Olympic Delivery Authority has offered Shiplee the post of construction director and will announce his appointment shortly.

Shiplee, 59, was this week negotiating his departure from his current employer, consultant High-Point Rendel.

He has been with High-Point for less than a year. Before then he oversaw the refurbishment of Ascot racecourse, which was opened by the Queen this week, on time and within budget.

A senior industry source said the appointment was perfect timing for Shiplee. He said: "Howard Shiplee is the leading client project manager in the country, if not the world. He has a proven track record in project delivery as epitomised by Ascot and other major projects."

Shiplee was with Bovis between 1986 and 1988 but left to join Amec where he oversaw the construction of the £800m Chek Lap Kok airport in Hong Kong.

He was named building manager of the year in 1994 by the Chartered Institute of Building for delivering Amec's Manchester Airport Terminal 2.

Howard Shiplee is the leading client project manager in the country, if not the world

Senior industry source

The source added: "Howard brings unrivalled experience of delivering the big occasions under intense pressure. He has a huge number of contacts within the industry and will give David Higgins and the senior team at the ODA confidence and an expert insight into what is happening at the core of the Olympic projects."

It is understood that the ODA is also in negotiation to appoint a utilities director for the Games.

Meanwhile the ODA has selected five legal firms for its panel of legal advisers. The winners are Berwin Leighton Paisner, Clifford Chance, DLA Piper Rudnick Gray Cary, Freshfields Bruckhaus Deringer and Pinsent Masons.

The panel will advise on infrastructure, procurement, contract negotiation, planning, transport and utilities. The five firms, which were chosen from a shortlist of 15, will work closely with the ODA's own legal team.

Morag Stuart, the ODA's head of procurement, said: "I'm delighted with the calibre of the firms we have selected. They have a cross section of expertise and it is this breadth of experience that will be invaluable to the ODA over the lifetime of the project."