Brown & Root, formed by combining two firms, to call Baton Rouge home, employ 6,000 in U.S., Mexico, Canada _lowres

Advocate staff photo by HILARY SCHEINUK -- Workers hang a banner advertising Brown & Root Industrial Services at its new location at 2600 Citiplace Drive off Corporate Boulevard.

Bernhard Capital Partners will combine its newly acquired Wink Engineering firm with Houston-based KBR Inc.’s industrial services group to form Brown & Root Industrial Services in Baton Rouge.

Under the deal announced Monday, Brown & Root will be based at Citiplace on Corporate Boulevard.

Brown & Root Industrial Services, a company with about 6,000 employees around the world, will bring 25 executives to Baton Rouge by the end of this year and another 25 in 2016. Those 50 jobs will average $192,000 in annual salaries, state economic development officials said.

The new company will be equally owned and managed by the partners.

In a separate transaction, Bernard Capital’s Epic Piping will acquire KBR’s Canadian pipe fabrication facility.

KBR will hold a minority interest in Epic and expects to receive about $32 million in cash from the two transactions. KBR, which got a new chief executive officer a year ago, announced in December that it would shed some of its businesses to focus on others.

Epic Piping was formed in February by a team including former employees of The Shaw Group, using investment advice and funding from Bernhard Capital Partners. That firm is one of several affiliated with former Shaw Chairman J.M. “Jim” Bernhard Jr. The Shaw Group — a Baton Rouge engineering, construction, environmental, nuclear and pipe fabrication company — was sold in 2013 to CB&I for $3 billion. An agreement Bernhard signed not to compete with CB&I Shaw as part of the sale recently expired.

Epic began construction on a $45.3 million pipe fabrication plant in Livingston Parish earlier this year and announced in March that the facility will have 560 full-time employees and a $31.7 million annual payroll.

From Baton Rouge, Brown & Root will provide industrial services for refineries, petrochemical, chemical and manufacturing plants. The company, including Wink, will have more than 6,000 employees, with operations throughout the United States, Mexico and Canada.

“The industrial roots here are strong, and we look forward to making Brown & Root the gold standard of our industry, with Baton Rouge as our base of operations,” said Andy Dupuy, Brown & Root’s chief executive officer.

Wink has 325 employees located in Baton Rouge, Mandeville and St. Rose, near New Orleans. Bernard Capital acquired Wink, founded in 1970, from Willbros Group Inc. in June. The price of that deal was not disclosed. Wink specializes in engineering and design work on refineries, petrochemical plants, storage terminals and fuel depots.

State economic development officials said they expect Brown & Root’s corporate presence to generate another 72 indirect jobs.

Louisiana Economic Development officials said they believe Brown & Root will employ an additional 550 industrial workers in the state over the next decade.

Fred McManus, Brown & Root’s chief operating officer, said many of those employees will work on ongoing industrial expansions along the Mississippi River between Baton Rouge and New Orleans.

Pipe fabricated in Livingston Parish and Canada will be used mostly by the oil and gas industries, added McManus, who worked for both Shaw and CB&I in the past.

In return for locating Brown & Root’s headquarters in Baton Rouge, LED officials offered the company a performance-based grant of $1.8 million to offset relocation and other costs. In addition, the company is expected to use the state’s Quality Jobs Program. Under that program, Brown & Root could qualify for state reimbursement of up to 6 percent of its payroll for as many as 10 years.

“Brown & Root’s selection of Baton Rouge brings a tremendous company legacy — with formative ties to Louisiana as far back as the 1920s — to our fast-growing area, further strengthening our regional economy,” said Adam Knapp, president and chief executive officer of the Baton Rouge Area Chamber.

Dupuy, who previously worked for both The Shaw Group and CB&I, said Brown & Root dates to 1919, when Texas brothers George and Herman Brown partnered with brother-in-law Dan Root to form what would become a global construction company.

“We’re proud that this venture will create hundreds of great new jobs for families in our capital and throughout the state of Louisiana,” Gov. Bobby Jindal said.

Bernhard Capital’s pipe plants in Livingston Parish and Canada, coupled with its acquisition of Wink’s engineering staff and Brown & Root’s construction force, arm the company with diversified services that could attract a variety of industrial clients.

“It’s a great opportunity for Baton Rouge and the region,” McManus said. “The timing is good.”

KBR’s stock closed Monday on the New York Stock Exchange at $18.80 — down 50 cents from the close of business last week.

Bernhard Capital Partners is a private equity company that focuses on energy services, according to its website.

Advocate business writer Ted Griggs contributed to this report.