Jan 11, 2008

URS replaces head of new Washington division

East Bay Business Times - by Steven E.F. Brown

URS Corp. replaced Stephen Hanks, the head of its newly acquired Washington division, with Thomas Zarges.

Zarges, formerly senior executive vice president of operations at the division, was promoted to president, while Hanks quit that job and stepped down from the company's board of directors.

San Francisco-based URS (NYSE: URS) completed its deal to buy Boise, Idaho-based Washington Group International Inc. for $3.1 billion in cash and stock in November. The merger, originally proposed at about $2.6 billion, hit stumbling blocks when some major Washington Group shareholders said the deal undervalued the company. URS then sweetened its offer.

Washington Group is part of the groups managing Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory and Los Alamos National Laboratory in New Mexico for the U.S. Department of Energy. San Francisco-based Bechtel Corp. and the University of California are also part of those management groups. The Livermore group took over management of the lab there in October.

Washington Group, founded in 1912 in Boise as Morrison-Knudsen Corp., has a major division that does nuclear cleanup and remediation for the Department of Energy. The company is working as a subcontractor for Bechtel at the Hanford Nuclear Reservation in Washington. Morrison-Knudsen merged with Washington Construction Co., a Montana company, in 1996 after forcing out CEO William Agee, who had come to Morrison-Knudsen from Bendix. The company focused on heavy civil engineering projects, including Tarbela Dam on the Indus River in Pakistan, one of the largest earth-filled dams in the world.

Zarges worked 20 years at United Engineers & Constructors, a unit of Raytheon bought by Washington Group in 2000.

Earlier this week, URS said it had won a contract to clean up and demolish a Cold War atomic research facility in New York. The Washington division will do that work.

San Francisco Business Times

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