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Tuesday, July 31, 2012

Chicago Bridge & Iron Co. To Buy Rival Shaw Group Inc.

Chicago Bridge & Iron Company (CB&I) agreed to buy rival Shaw Group Inc. (SGI) in a $3 billion deal that will create one of the world's biggest energy infrastructure companies.  The combined company, to be called CB&I Shaw, will be involved in everything from building nuclear power plants in the U.S. and China to constructing gas-processing plants and oil storage tanks globally.

It will have a $28 billion order backlog of projects in the oil, gas and electric industries, including about $18 billion coming from Louisiana-based Shaw, one of that state's largest and most politically influential firms.  The acquisition will give CB&I, which is more focused on the oil-and-gas-business, better access to lucrative and potentially growing projects in the electric-power industry.

Utilities in coming years are expected to spend billions of dollars building new power plants and retrofitting coal-burning plants to meet tougher antipollution regulations.

The addition of Shaw also is expected to allow CB&I to reduce its revenue volatility, in part because Shaw gets more of its money from relatively stable and predictable work such as providing maintenance and retrofitting services to the power industry. Shaw supplies services to about 40% of the 104 nuclear reactors operating in the U.S. and many conventional power plants.Shaw is helping build four nuclear reactors in Georgia and South Carolina, for Southern Company and Scana Corporation. It also has a profitable division that furnishes disaster-recovery services to the federal government, such as work it performed following Hurricane Katrina.

CB&I was founded in 1889 in Chicago and pushed west, building tanks for the water storage that was needed by growing towns and expanding railroads. It soon branched into oil and refined product tanks as the oil and gas industry took off. Currently, about 80% of CB&I's revenues come from outside the U.S., but that will drop to about 50% with the addition of Shaw, which is more focused on the domestic market. (WSJ, 7/30/2012)

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