The group promised to return more than £100m to shareholders when it sold its housing division to Wimpey for £461m last August. It also set aside £150m to repay group debt and another £200m for acquisitions. McAlpine has so far bought utility firm Ryan from Speedy Hire for £12.9m and facilities management business Stiell for £85m.
McAlpine’s share price ended Tuesday at 380p. The price has steadily fallen from its peak of 492p in March after the City opinion-former began to suspect the firm was overpriced.
Sources added that the group had probably been waiting for the share price to fall before starting the buy-back programme.
McAlpine is one of construction’s most highly rated companies, and its share price rose dramatically after the sale of its housebuilding arm. The firm is launching the buy-back because it wants to lift shareholder value by reducing the number of shares in circulation.