IRVINE — Hoping to cash in on closer political and economic ties with Mexico, Fluor Corp. said Thursday that it has agreed to form a joint venture with Mexico's largest engineering and construction company.
"We obviously view the Mexican market as an excellent place to move into at this time," Fluor spokeswoman Deborah Land said. "We are positioning ourselves for the future."
Land said that Fluor Daniel, a unit of the Irvine-based international construction and engineering company, has agreed to form the joint venture with ICA Industrial, a wholly owned subsidiary of Empras ICA.
Terms of the tentative agreement, to be completed by early next year, were not immediately available, Land said. Also to be decided, she said, is how much Fluor Daniel will invest in the joint venture, and whether it will have a 50% stake in the new company, yet to be named.
The agreement will be a boon for Fluor Daniel because of ICA's government contacts and client relationships in Mexico.
"We could not do this on our own," Land said.
The United States, Canada and Mexico have agreed in principle on the controversial North American Free Trade Agreement, known as NAFTA, which would create the world's largest customs union.
Mexican investors have been nervous about the chances of the trade agreement falling apart under President-elect Bill Clinton, who expressed reservations about the agreement during his campaign. On Thursday, however, Clinton assured Mexican President Carlos Salinas de Gortari that he favors the agreement and is willing to press for its passage.
Land said that the ICA agreement is not hinged to passage of the trade agreement.