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Halliburton, Baker Hughes call off merger

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US oil services companies Halliburton and Baker Hughes have called off their proposed merger that had met resistance from antitrust officials, a joint statement said Sunday.

[SAN FRANCISCO] US oil services companies Halliburton and Baker Hughes have called off their proposed merger that had met resistance from antitrust officials, a joint statement said Sunday.

The deal, announced in November 2014, foresaw a US$34.6 billion takeover by Halliburton of its rival.

"Challenges in obtaining remaining regulatory approvals and general industry conditions that severely damaged deal economics led to the conclusion that termination is the best course of action," Halliburton's chairman and chief executive, Dave Lesar, said in the statement.

Earlier this month, US antitrust officials filed suit to block the proposed merger, agreed in response to plunging oil prices, saying it would eliminate competition, raise prices and reduce innovation in the oil services business.

The Justice Department said the transaction would eliminate head-to-head competition in markets for 23 products or services, creating a virtual duopoly for key oil services such as offshore well completions and on- and offshore cementing.

Halliburton and Baker Hughes said at the time they would "vigorously contest" the case.

Martin Craighead, chairman and chief executive Baker Hughes called the termination "disappointing." "This was an extremely complex, global transaction and, ultimately, a solution could not be found to satisfy the antitrust concerns of regulators, both in the United States and abroad," he said.

Halliburton will pay Baker Hughes a termination fee of US$3.5 billion by Wednesday, according to the statement.

AFP