India\'s salt-to-steel group Tata on Wednesday appointed a new chairman-elect, ending a long search for a successor to veteran chairman and business icon Ratan Tata, who will step down next year. Cyrus P. Mistry, a 43-year-old existing board member, was named as deputy chairman of the Tata Sons group and will take over the reins next year, the company said in a statement, ending years of speculation. \"The board of directors of Tata Sons at its meeting today appointed Mr Cyrus P. Mistry as deputy chairman,\" the company said in an emailed statement. \"He will work with Mr Ratan Tata over the next year and take over from him when Mr Tata retires in December 2012.\" As well as being a Tata Sons board member, Mistry is also the managing director of the real estate-to-energy Shapoorji Pallonji Group, which has an 18-percent stake in the Tata conglomerate. He has been a director at Tata Sons since August 2006 and is a civil engineering graduate from Imperial College, London, with a master\'s degree in management from the London Business School. Ratan Tata, 73, is one of India\'s most powerful industrialists who has propelled the group\'s global expansion. The multi-billion dollar group was founded in 1868 and has always been steered by a family member. The softly-spoken industrialist\'s announcement that he was to step down in December next year triggered a hunt for his successor, with his half-brother, Noel, seen as one of the main contenders. The company, which owns British luxury car marques Jaguar and Land Rover as well as European steel giant Corus, set up a panel in August 2010 to find a new chairman.