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URS and CH2M Hill in Bidding War for U.K. Engineering Firm

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URS Corp. said on June 29 it is “considering” increasing its $242-million bid to acquire U.K.-based engineer Scott Wilson Group plc, following a $286-million offer from a rival suitor, CH2M Hill Cos., Denver. CH2M Hill’s buyout bid follows its June 28 accumulation of a 13% stake in Scott Wilson, making it the transportation firm’s largest shareholder. The U.K. firm posted revenue for its 2010 fiscal year, ending in April, of $490 million, which was down 6% from 2009. But at least one financial expert believes the price could continue to rise since both prospective buyers have enough ready capital and have been aggressive in making acquisitions. Avram Fisher, analyst for BMO Capital Markets Corp., cautioned in a June 29 report that Scott Wilson has a $93-million pension liability, “two years of negligible free cash flow, weak orders in the most recent year and risks with its receivables.” But he noted the U.K.’s attraction to potential buyers, saying Scott Wilson’s assets remain attractive due to relatively low valuations, low corporate taxes and a talented labor pool.

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