US Justice Department to sue to halt Halliburton, Baker Hughes merger

The US Justice Department plans to file a lawsuit as soon as this week to stop Halliburton from acquiring Baker Hughes, according to Reuters, citing a source familiar with the pending transaction.

The proposed merger between the No. 2 and No. 3 oil services companies would overtake Schlumberger as the world's largest oilfield services provider. The transaction has also met opposition within the European Union and in Australia, where regulators have expressed concern that such a merger would reduce competition and innovation in more than 30 product markets, both offshore and onshore.

Once the Justice Department files suit, Halliburton and Baker Hughes may either cancel the merger transaction or fight the government in court. Both companies declined to comment on Tuesday. If the deal collapses due to antitrust concerns, Halliburton must pay Baker Hughes a $3.5 billion breakup fee.

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