Carlyle in talks to buy some businesses from Halliburton, Baker Hughes

US private-equity firm Carlyle Group is in talks to buy several oilfield-services businesses worth more than $7 billion from oilfield service providers Halliburton Co. and Baker Hughes Inc. in order to gain antitrust approval for their proposed $35-billion merger.

Talks between Carlyle are not yet exclusive, but the talks mark a shift for Halliburton and Baker Hughes, which have been focusing for  months on reaching a deal to sell the assets to General Electric Co, The Wall Street Journal today reported, citing people familiar with the matter.

GE and the energy companies have yet not been able to finalise a deal because of differences on price for the assets, the report said.

Halliburton said in November 2014 that it would acquire Baker Hughes In a friendly deal  for about $34.6 billion, that would create a merged entity worth $67 billion. (See: Halliburton to acquire rival Baker Hughes for $34.6 bn)

The takeover faced regulatory scrutiny since a tie up between the No 2 and No 3 oil services giants would attract antitrust concerns in several countries where both companies operate.

Both are giants in the oilfield services providing services with expertise ranging from drilling wells, hydraulic fracturing / fracking, production and reservoir consulting, formation evaluation to pressure pumping.

The merger between the two Houston-based companies could challenge market leader Schlumberger and end competition between the two decades-old rivals in the oil field service business.

A merged company would hold around 52 per cent, while Schlumberger would hold 14 per cent of the global market of completion equipment, a broad category that includes an array of tools needed to prepare wells for production.

Halliburton and Baker Hughes are under renewed pressure to sell assets after the US Department of Justice last week filed a lawsuit seeking to block the deal on antitrust concerns.

The two companies had initially announced they would divest their drill bits and directional drilling businesses as part of their merger.

Last September, both companies said that they would divest assets worth $5.2 billion of 2013 revenue.

The assets offered for sale include Halliburton's expandable liner hangers business; Baker Hughes's packers, flow control tools and subsurface safety systems; Baker Hughes's sand control business in the Gulf of Mexico; and its offshore cementing businesses in Australia, Brazil, the Gulf of Mexico, Norway and the UK.