GE closes in on UK oil firm with top bid

GENERAL ELECTRIC (GE) is plotting an £800m-plus takeover of British oil services group Wellstream, it emerged over the weekend.

The US based conglomerate is thought to have been the first bidder for Wellstream, which makes specialist pipes used in offshore drilling.

Late last month, Wellstream confirmed that it had received several bid approaches but would not disclose the name of the suitors.

The group said it had “received a number of preliminary approaches regarding a possible offer for the company” but there was “no certainty that an acceptable offer will ultimately be made”.

It is understood that GE’s approach was made through its oil services arm, Vetco Gray, which it bought for $1.9bn (£1.2bn) in 2007.

Although a number of other bidders have expressed interest, it is thought that GE is the leading contender.

If the deal goes through, it could stand as the largest for the company in the UK since 2007 when it bought medical equipment firm, Amersham, for £5.7bn.

Shares in Wellstream, which was floated three years ago by Candover, have skyrocketed since last month’s takeover news, climbing by 29 per cent and valuing the company at £778m.

It currently employs 1,000 people, while GE employs more than 19,000 people in Britain.