AN international engineering firm employing hundreds of North-East workers is in negotiations to secure a £1.9bn deal with an oil and gas specialist.

Amec, whose European headquarters are in Darlington, is set to buy the US' Foster Wheeler in a £1.9bn agreement.

Foster Wheeler, which employs about 13,000 workers in more than 30 countries, has offices in Middlesbrough.

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Bosses say the deal would create a new company worth £5bn. The two companies are already work together and recently secured consultancy contracts in Kuwait for the building of a new refinery.

Amec said the partnership with Foster Wheeler would more than double its revenues from regions such as Latin America as well as increasing its presence in the oil and gas sector.

Samir Brikho, Amec chief executive, said: “I believe it would be a compelling proposition for our shareholders, customers and employees.”

The making of a firm offer is subject to a number of pre-conditions, including completion of due diligence by both parties.

The move is the latest attempt by Amec to bolster its scale, having failed with a £700m takeover approach for Kentz, which works on oil and gas services projects across the globe.

Amec employs about 420 workers in Darlington.