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1970s Foster Wheeler CEO, Who Fought Takeover, Is Dead

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Frank A. Lee, a chemical engineer who led publicly held Foster Wheeler Corp. during a decade of growth and innovation in the 1970s and fended off an acquisition attempt, died on Aug. 12 in Old Tappan, N.J. He was 88.


Lee was named president and CEO of the contractor-manufacturer in 1971, after difficulties in its boiler business had led to several years of revenue falloff. He noted the firm's "image problem in the market" in a 1974 Forbes magazine article.

Lee helped expand the firm's global markets and presided over technical advances in fluidized-bed power-generation design and construction. But he opted not to move Foster Wheeler into the then-new field of nuclear energy, says a 1998 corporate history.

Foster Wheeler's large backlogs and cash reserves prompted McDonnell Douglas' 1979 takeover attempt, which Lee resisted. He became chairman in 1981 and retired a year later. Foster Wheeler ranks at No. 58 on ENR's list of the Top 225 Global Contractors, with $4.48 billion in worldwide revenue.


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