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Unpaid work wins Costain £15M Iraq deal

CONTRACTOR COSTAIN was this week poised to sign a £15M deal to draw up a masterplan for infrastructure improvements in northern Iraq The deal rewards the contractor's persistent efforts to forge links in the region.

Costain was one of the first international construction firms to enter Iraq following the USled invasion a year ago. But it has stayed clear of central and southern Iraq where security is a major issue.

Instead it has concentrated efforts on securing work with the Kurdish government.

Relationship-building meetings with leading government ministers and an unpaid physical assessment of the region during September and December visits now look set to yield paid work.

'We got credibility by making the effort, ' said Costain chief executive Stuart Doughty. 'We set a target to be awarded manageable projects by spring 2004 and we will achieve that target.'

There are no major oilfields in northern Iraq, so the region is lower on the political agenda and as a result is far more stable. It has a fully operational army, police force, legal system and democratically elected parliament.

Residual funds from the prewar food for oil programme are expected to kick start a programme of infrastructure improvements.

Costain will provide project management for the execution of healthcare, water and transport schemes.

lCostain's preliminary results for the year ended 31 December 2003 released last week showed group turnover up 20% from £543.4M to £650.2M. Profit before tax rose 42% from £11.3M to £16.1M.

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