Engineer plots grand expansion

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The Independent Online

URS Corporation, a fast-growing US engineering group, has vowed to double its operations in the UK and is scouting for acquisitions.

URS's chairman and chief executive officer, Martin Koffel, said he had ambitious plans to expand the group's operations in the UK and Europe.

The group, which in the last few years has bought UK engineering businesses Woodward Clyde and Thorburn Colquhoun, is expected to have around £100m of revenues in the UK this year.

The San Francisco-based company, which has grown by 30 per cent every year for the past decade, is already number two in Europe for environmental consulting and is building its presence in defence and transport engineering, where it recently won a contract to manage over 600 miles of roads for the Highways Agency in a joint venture with Carillion.

"We aim to be in the top three to four in all our disciplines," Mr Koffel said.

URS bought defence contractor EG&G from Carlyle Group last year, a move that made it a first-tier contractor to the Pentagon. Over two- fifths of URS's business comes from the US government.

The deal made it one of the biggest pilot trainers in America. The Ministry of Defence wants to outsource the training of some pilots too and URS may bid for those contracts, Mr Koffel indicated.

In transport, URS is one of the largest players in light rail - inner city transport systems such as the ones in Manchester and Croydon. Among innovations it has worked on in the US are dedicated bus routeson concrete to discourage other vehicles.