In a previous blog, I commented that GE could be working behind the scenes to kill the Halliburton – Baker Hughes deal. It now looks like GE is making a run at Baker Hughes.
The Department of Justice lawsuit filed last week against Halliburton to stop the $25 billion merger of the world’s second- and third-largest oilfield service companies could soon put Baker Hughes back in play, with GE acknowledged as the most probable bidder.
Halliburton and Baker Hughes have said they plan to contest the government’s case, which could delay the timing of any future takeover offers.
Last December, GE was said to be exploring bids for various assets Halliburton was marketing in an attempt to secure antitrust approval for the deal, Kallanish Energy finds.
“This is one way you could really accelerate yourself in the oil and gas industry,” J. David Anderson, an analyst at Barclays, told Bloomberg last week. “Buy Baker to fill in the gap and all of a sudden, you’re one of the more dominant oil service companies out there.”
GE has expanded its oil and gas business in recent years through more than $10 billion in acquisitions, making it the company’s fourth-largest division. Yet, within the world of oilfield services and equipment manufacturing, the company ranks 11th, Tulsa, Oklahoma-based consultant Spears & Associates told Bloomberg.
Among GE’s four largest business units in the oilfield sector, none rank larger than third for market share. A large acquisition would move GE into the upper echelon.
“If they buy Baker Hughes, they’re immediately in the top 3,” Anderson said. “This is sort of the big missing piece.”
Oil and gas has become central to GE as CEO Jeffrey Immelt focuses operations on industrial manufacturing. He is selling the bulk of GE’s finance arm and its home-appliances unit while expanding divisions making drilling equipment, gas turbines and jet engines.