Paul Wallwork has been confirmed as chief executive of Gleeson after steering the contractor through a restructure and reducing its debt 85%.

Wallwork has been the contractor’s interim chief executive since July after Terry Massingham resigned. He has overseen the sale of its non-core businesses, including Gleeson Civil Engineering which was sold to Black & Veatch for £36m in October.

In November Wallwork announced that losses had been reduced to £3m for the year ending 30 June, compared with £17.8m the year before. Debt had fallen from £100m to £15m. The company now plans to return money to shareholders.

Wallwork, who was previously the finance director, was seen as a strong contender for the job but it was thought his lack of operational experience might have counted against him.

It is understood that there was one strong external candidate who was also considered.

Paul has overseen much of the successful revised strategy

Dermot Gleeson, Chairman

Dermot Gleeson, the chairman, said: “Paul has overseen much of the successful implementation of the revised corporate strategy announced in March 2006, which was principally designed to reduce the group’s exposure to contracting in the construction sector and to strengthen its position in urban housing regeneration, commercial property development and strategic land trading.

“We are confident that Paul is the correct choice.”

Gleeson must now find a permanent finance director.