BALFOUR Beatty has until next Friday to decide whether to enter the race for rival Mowlem.
Carillion made a firm bid for the takeover target before Christmas and upped its offer to 220p a share - valuing Mowlem at £315 million - after Balfour Beatty signalled potential interest in the company.
Carillion shareholders will vote on the acquisition in an extraordinary meeting on January 23.
A Balfour spokesman said: 'The 'put up or shut up' date for us is January 20. We've done all the due diligence that we can.' Analysts suggest Balfour will have to table a 225p offer to secure Mowlem and City rumours suggest a third bidder could still enter the fray.