Signing of Mace's £425m construction contract delayed as project's backer seeks second opinion

The signing of Mace’s £425m deal to build the Shard was delayed this week as it emerged that the tower’s financial backer had brought in Sir Robert McAlpine to run the rule over the bid.

Confirmation that Mace had been appointed to build the 310m-tall building at London Bridge for a fixed price was expected soon after Building went to press on Wednesday, several days late.

The delay followed news that Qatari Diar, the Middle Eastern real estate company that stumped up an undisclosed amount of money last year to keep the project on track, had called in McAlpine and consultant EC Harris for a second opinion on Mace’s bid.

Mace bid £435m last autumn, but revised this just before Qatari Diar pumped in its cash.

Qatari Diar brought in the McAlpine team shortly afterwards. A spokesperson for the financier said: “Independent consultants were appointed. This is standard pre-contract due diligence which is undertaken when making a substantial investment in a major project.”

This is standard pre-contract due diligence when investing in a major project

Qatari Diar

As well as looking at cost, Qatari Diar asked the McAlpine team to examine the whole build programme and methodology.

The job will be the largest Mace has ever done. It is one of three or four major contracts seen as vital to ensure it hits its £700m turnover target.

One project source said: “It’s pretty unusual to get a firm looking at a rival’s bid. It’s a commercial threat from one to the other and it’ll make sure Mace is on its toes, especially if it sees McAlpine as a real threat.”

There is growing speculation that McAlpine will be the team to beat for the contract to build the other block in the development, a 55,000m2 building nicknamed the Baby Shard.