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GE, Baker Hughes Get Green Light for Merger

The Department of Justice (DOJ) has given the go-ahead to a proposed merger between GE’s oil and gas business division and Baker Hughes that will create an oilfield service company bigger than Halliburton, second only to Schlumberger. The DOJ granted its approval in exchange for GE agreeing to sell its GE Water & Process Technologies unit. GE arranged to part with GE Water earlier this year, inking a deal with French Suez to sell it for US$3.4 billion.

The merger has already been cleared by the European Commission as well, unconditionally. Now that the DoJ has also backed the deal, Baker Hughes will put it to the vote at the end of this month.

GE, meanwhile, announced that its chief executive Jeff Immelt will retire at the end of this year, to be replaced by the head of GE Healthcare, John Flannery.

Earlier in June, the two companies announced the new executive team that will head the combined company after the merger. The company will be headed by GE Oil & Gas CEO Lorenzo Simonelli, and will include senior executives from both companies.

Baker Hughes was last year the fifth-largest oilfield service provider in the world based on revenues, after Schlumberger, Halliburton, Saipem, and Transocean. After the deal it will become the world’s second-largest. According to Bloomberg, prior to the DOJ announcement, shares in Baker Hughes gained 1.1 percent, to settle at US$56.16.

After the merger is completed, Baker Hughes will be incorporated into GE, which will have a 62.5-percent share in the company.

Three years ago, Halliburton started takeover negotiations with Baker Hughes, but the process was terminated last year, after it ran into regulatory opposition. The US$28-billion tie-up would have created an oilfield service mammoth, much bigger than Schlumberger. With GE, there aren’t this many overlapping operations, and the two companies would be better able to reap the benefits of their merger.

By Irina Slav for Oilprice.com

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