Alan Crane, the managing director of troubled contractor Christiani & Nielsen, resigned suddenly on Tuesday morning.

Crane offered his resignation at a meeting in London attended by board members of the firm’s Thai parent company who came to the UK to approve a £10m rescue package for the contractor.

Crane, who is also chairman of the Movement for Innovation and a well-known industry figure, left with immediate effect. Clive Thompson, who also resigned as finance director at the same meeting, will stay on in an advisory role.

In a significant move by the Thai company, Santi Grachangnetara, group chief executive, will oversee the UK operations in a more hands-on role as chairman.

Andrew Pearson, formerly operations director, has become chief executive of the UK business. Malcolm Cowling and Paul MacLaughlin have been put in charge of finance and commercial operations, respectively.

Christiani & Nielsen’s European division, of which the UK operation is by far the largest part, made a loss of £7.4m last year and a further loss of £2m in the first quarter of 2000.

There have been rumours that Christiani & Nielsen Thailand has had the firm up for sale for as long as a year.