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Baker Hughes, BJ Services resolve federal antitrust concerns

Nick Snow
OGJ Washington Editor

WASHINGTON, DC, Apr. 28 -- An agreement by Baker Hughes Inc. and BJ Services Co. to divest two specially equipped vessels and other assets in order to receive federal approval of the firms’ proposed merger became a proposed settlement of federal antitrust charges on Apr. 27, the US Department of Justice reported.

The companies reached a general understanding with DOJ’s antitrust division on Mar. 31 under which they agreed to sell two stimulation vessels, the HR Hughes and Blue Ray, and other assets to receive federal approval of Baker Hughes’s $5.5 billion acquisition of BJ Services. The two companies’ shareholders approved the merger in special meetings the same day.

The original transaction, which the companies announced on Aug. 31, would have combined two of only four companies that provide well stimulation services to producers in the Gulf of Mexico, DOJ’s antitrust division said. The transaction would have led to higher prices and reduced service quality without the divestitures, it added.

Baker Hughes and BJ Services also have to divest a Port Fourchon, La., dock facility, sand control tools, and stimulation fluids under the proposed settlement. They also must give the divestiture package’s purchaser an expansive right to hire employees from the two oil field service companies, according to DOJ.

It filed a civil antitrust lawsuit on Apr. 27 in US District Court for the District of Columbia to block the proposed transaction along with the proposed settlement which, if approved by the court, would resolve the lawsuit’s competitive concerns. The court may make the settlement final following a 60-day comment period.

Contact Nick Snow at nicks@pennwell.com.


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