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US: Antitrust cloud over Halliburton-Baker Hughes deal

 |  December 13, 2015

Halliburton’s $35 billion acquisition of Baker Hughes is under threat from antitrust regulators in the US and abroad amid concerns it will stifle competition in the oilfield-service industry.

According to the Wall Street Journal, the US Justice Department is questioning whether other companies could buy some of the assets that Halliburton and Baker Hughes would need to sell for the deal to pass regulatory muster and whether those companies could become credible rivals to the combined company.

The oil price downturn has reduced demand for drilling, complicating the oilfield service giants’ efforts to find buyers for assets, experts said.

“Everything about this deal has turned out to be more complicated and, frankly, more challenging than what was initially envisioned,” William Herbert, co-head of securities at Simmons & Co. International, an energy-focused investment bank, told the Journal.

Halliburton recently met with the Justice Department’s top antitrust official, Bill Baer, to talk about the deal, the WSJ said, a sign the review process has reached a critical stage. Christian Garcia, Halliburton’s interim CFO, said Wednesday the company was confident the deal would close, but conceded the goal of wrapping it up in 2015 was all but dead.

The European Commission, meanwhile, has set a Jan. 12 deadline for clearing the merger or starting an in-depth investigation, and antitrust authorities in Brazil and Australia are concerned the deal will increase costs for customers seeking a package of integrated oilfield services.

Full content: The Wall Street Journal

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