Halliburton takeover attempt for Baker Hughes starts to turn nasty

Joseph Millis
Shareholders in oil services companies are worried about plummeting prices
A fight for control of a major American oil field services company appears to be brewing, as Baker Hughes has disclosed that its larger rival Halliburton has threatened to replace its entire board.

The move by Halliburton came after an impasse in merger talks between the two, which, if completed, would be one of the biggest energy deals in years. Baker Hughes currently has a market value of more than $25bn (£16bn).

But Baker Hughes said in a statement that it felt increasing pressure from its competitor to accept a takeover bid in such a short time frame.

“Baker Hughes is disappointed that Halliburton has chosen to seek to replace the entire Baker Hughes board rather than continue the private discussions between the parties,” Martin Craighead, Baker Hughes’s chairman and chief executive, said in a statement.

“Baker Hughes believes that Halliburton’s various attempts at coercive tactics, instead of being willing to negotiate a reasonable value for the company’s stock and despite having stated twice that they have room to increase the value of their offer, are attempts to control both sides of a negotiation and are entirely inappropriate.”

Discussions between the two companies have been taking place during a steep drop in crude oil prices this year. Shareholders are worried that oil field services providers would face pressure from oil and gas producers to lower prices, clamping down on profit margins.

A spokeswoman for Halliburton declined to comment.

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