WILMINGTON, Del. (Legal Newsline) — The Department of Justice has announced it has filed a civil antitrust lawsuit attempting to block Halliburton Company’s proposed acquisition of Baker Hughes Inc.
The department alleges the acquisition – valued at $34 billion by the companies – would combine two of the three main players in the oilfield services industry and therefore eliminate head-to-head competition and allow for price raises and lack of innovation.
“The proposed deal between Halliburton and Baker Hughes would eliminate vital competition, skew energy markets and harm American consumers,” said Attorney General Loretta E. Lynch. “Our action makes clear the Justice Department is committed to vigorously enforcing our antitrust laws. In the days ahead, we will continue to stand up for fair deals and free markets, and for the American people we are privileged to serve.”
Halliburton had proposed to remedy the harmful effects of the acquisition by divesting a mix of assets from various business lines. The department alleges these assets are not full business units and would put any buyer of those assets at a disadvantage.
“This transaction is unprecedented in the breadth and scope of competitive overlaps and antitrust issues it presents,” said assistant attorney general Bill Baer of the department’s Antitrust Division. “Halliburton and Baker Hughes are two of the three largest integrated oilfield service companies across the globe, and they compete to invent and sell products and services that are critical to energy exploration and production. We need to maintain meaningful competition in this important sector of our economy.”