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Contractor broadens base

UK CONTRACTOR Amec last week underpinned its position as a global design and construction group with a ú221M ($349M) deal to buy Canadian engineering, construction and professional services firm Agra.

The deal gives it access to a large international client base operating in areas including infrastructure, oil and gas, chemicals and pharmaceuticals.

But Agra also has a strong track record in project management and of working with clients under partnering and framework agreements. It is expected to merge with Amec's lossmaking US Morse Deisel business to run as the firm's stateside operation.

The deal prompted an initial fall in Amec's share price as many analysts felt the price was high and that buying a North American firm when the US construction market was on a high was unwise.

However, many others see the deal as a good move for the firm in the long term. The resulting group, trading under the Amec name, will become the third largest in the league of global engineering design firms, behind US giants Fluor Daniel and Bechtel Group.

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