The Carlyle Group has entered the auction for assets that oilfield service providers Halliburton and Baker Hughes aim to divest to secure antitrust approval for their merger, a person familiar with the matter said.
Carlyle, a Washington-based private equity firm, is competing against General Electric (GE), which was already in discussions to buy many of the assets, the person said on Thursday, asking not to be identified because the negotiations are confidential.
Halliburton (HAL) and Carlyle declined to comment, while Baker Hughes (BHI) and General Electric did not immediately respond to requests for comment.
Earlier on Thursday, the Wall Street Journal, citing sources, reported that Carlyle was in serious talks to buy assets worth more than $7 billion from Halliburton and Baker Hughes.
Baker Hughes shares were up 5.5% on the news to $43.55, while Halliburton shares were down slightly in Thursday afternoon trading in New York at $38.19.
Halliburton and Baker Hughes are under new pressure to divest assets after the U.S. government filed a lawsuit last week to stop their deal, arguing the combination of the world’s No. 2 and No. 3 oil services companies would lead to higher prices in the sector.
The two companies had initially announced they would divest their drill bits and directional drilling businesses as part of their merger.
Last September, the two added several businesses to the list, which in total would amount to $5.2 billion of 2013 revenue. The additional divestitures included Halliburton’s expandable line hangers business, Baker Hughes’ core completions business, Baker Hughes’ sand control business in the Gulf of Mexico, and Baker Hughes’ offshore cementing business in Australia, Brazil, the Gulf of Mexico, Norway and the UK.