NEW YORK (CNN/Money) -
Halliburton, the energy and construction company once run by Vice President Dick Cheney, is no longer in the running for a $600 million contract to rebuild post-war Iraq, according to the United States Agency for International Development.
The development is likely to spare Cheney, who was Halliburton's CEO from 1995-2000, and the Bush administration from conflict-of-interest criticism.
A spokesperson for USAID, Ellen Yount, said there are two remaining firms bidding on the contract. No decision has been made on who will be awarded it, she said.
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Halliburton, which declined to comment, could still be awarded a sub-contractor role.
Newsweek reported that it was unclear whether Halliburton took itself out of the running for the contract, was asked by the Bush administration to do so, or whether its bid was simply not deemed competitive.
Post-war Iraq will require massive rebuilding centered on reconstructing oil wells. The work will also include emergency repair of electrical supply facilities, water and sanitation systems, roads and bridges, public buildings such as hospitals and schools, irrigation structures and ports.
Newsweek reported that a Cheney spokeswoman, Cathie Martin, said the vice president "hadn't even heard" that Halliburton would not be awarded the reconstruction contract and added, "The vice president has nothing to do with these contracts."
Cheney sold his Halliburton shares when he re-entered politics as Bush's running mate. He held on to some options, but promised to donate all profits to charity.
Timothy Beans, the chief acquisition officer for the U.S. Agency for International Development, would not identify the final bidders on the contract, the weekly magazine said.
Halliburton has won one Iraq-related job. The company's Kellogg Brown & Root unit this week was awarded a contract by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers to put out oil fires and make emergency repairs to Iraq's oil infrastructure. Halliburton wouldn't speculate about the deal's monetary value.
Shares of Dallas-based Halliburton (HAL: Research, Estimates) fell 6 cents to $21.44 Friday.