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Washington Group International was an American corporation which provided integrated engineering, construction and management services to businesses and governments around the world. Based in Boise, Idahomarker, it had approximately 25,000 employees working in over 40 states and more than 30 countries. Its primary areas of expertise were: infrastructure, mining, industrial/process, energy & environment, and power. It was acquired by URS Corporation of San Franciscomarker in November 2007 for $3.1 billion, and currently operates as the "Washington Division" of URS. [296922]

Origins

At the age of 30, Dennis R. Washington founded Washington Construction Company in Missoula, Montanamarker in 1964. He guided the company to the top of the civil construction market in Montanamarker, and expanded into mining, industrial construction, and environmental cleanup work. As his company grew into a major regional firm, Washington's vision for the future continued to expand also - leading to a series of acquisitions that produced the international company of today.

In 1993 it expanded its heavy civil construction-operation, when it merged with Kasler Corporation, a Californiamarker-based firm with large-scale operations in heavy-civil construction.

Morrison-Knudsen Co.

In 1996, the Washington Group acquired Morrison-Knudsen Co. of Boisemarker, the major construction company. M-K was one of the consortium of firms that built Hoover Dammarker and the San Francisco – Oakland Bay Bridgemarker, the Trans-Alaska Pipelinemarker and many other large projects of American infrastructure. M-K was also involved in the construction of rail projects such as the BART extension (M-K also built 80 C2 cars for BART) and the single track Apoeramarker-Bakhuys railway in Suriname (1976-1977). It built the California Cars as well as other rail passenger cars and light rail. It built locomotives under the MPI name brand, such as the MPI F40PH-C3. M-K also rebuilt locomotives, including the four Delaware & Hudson ALCO PAs.

M-K's origins date to 1905, when Morris Knudsen met Harry Morrison while working on the construction of the New York Canal (irrigation) in southwestern Idahomarker. Knudsen was a fifty-something Nebraskamarker farmer (and Danishmarker immigrant) with a team of horses and a fresno scraper; Morrison was a 27 year-old concrete superintendent for the Reclamation Service.

Their first venture together was in 1912, on a pump plant in nearby Grand Viewmarker, where they lost money but gained experience. For several years the firm built irrigation canals, logging roads, and railways. They incorporated in 1923, the year gross revenues topped $1 million.

During World War II, M-K built airfields, storage depots, and ships, and it later expanded into foreign construction. It built the locks on the St. Lawrence Seaway, the DEW system, Minuteman missile silos, NASA'smarker Kennedy Space Centermarker, and over 100 major dams. Knudsen died in 1943, Morrison in 1971.

M-K was led into some risky non-core areas by Boise native William Agee, who became CEO in 1988, and was ousted by the board of directors in February 1995. The company had been in financial difficulty for several years and declared bankruptcy that same year. It was purchased by Washington Group in 1996 for $380 million.

Additional growth

Growth by acquisition has brought the Washington Group into the top tier (by size) of American construction firms. However, Washington Group also declared bankruptcy - virtually eliminating all shareholder value. In 1999 it acquired the government-services operations of Westinghouse Electric Company, becoming a science and technology services leader, and in 2000 the company expanded its market leadership by acquiring Raytheon Engineers & Constructors, which owned Birminghammarker, Alabamamarker based engineering giant Rust International, to produce one of the largest companies in the industry.

However, Washington Group entered bankruptcy in 2001, but later successfully exited it.

Acquisition by URS

On May 28, 2007, URS Corporation, based in San Franciscomarker, announced it had reached an initial agreement with WGI management to purchase the entire company for $2.6 billion (about $80 per share). According to the plan, WGI would operate as a division of URS, with the headquarters remaining in Boisemarker. On November 15th, the deal was finalized for a purchase price of $3.1 billion ($95.116 per share).

URS competitors include Bechtel, Fluor Corp., CB&I, Kiewit, and Jacobs Engineering Group.

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