Contractor Costain has ended its long search for a chairman with the appointment of Michael Beckett.
Costain said six months ago in September that it was looking for a chairman of "high standing", who was "well known in British business circles".

Beckett now serves on the boards of listed companies Horace Clarkson, BPB, Queens Moat Houses, Learning Technologies and Foreign and Colonial Income Growth Investment Trust. He has been a non-executive director of property company Greycoat and British-Borneo Oil and Gas, and managing director of Consolidated Goldfields.

Chief executive John Armitt said Beckett had a first-class reputation and his appointment was a "significant reason to view the future with confidence".

Costain has also won a £120m contract on section two of the Channel Tunnel Rail Link from Stratford East to Barrington Road in east London in a partnership with Bachy and Skanska.

The contract, awarded by Union Railways (North), will start from Stratford in autumn next year. It calls for two tunnels at a depth of 35 m.

Union Railways has now awarded contracts worth £800m for section two, which extends the new high-speed line into St Pancras Station via east London. Union Railways is set to award contracts worth another £1.4bn this year.

Costain said section one of the rail link, which started in October 1998, was more than 57% complete.