Business: Bids Rigged

Two companies cop a plea

Like the oil industry as a whole, the multibillion-dollar business of building offshore drilling platforms and pipelines is a highly profitable, as well as risky venture in which many dwarfs live in the shadow of a handful of titans. Of them all, the two largest are J. Ray McDermott & Co. of New Orleans (1977 sales: $1.3 billion) and Houston's Brown & Root Inc. ($1 billion).

For the past two years, a federal grand jury in New Orleans has been investigating just how it could be that...

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