Shares of oil-services company Baker Hughes fell as much as 13 percent Wednesday following a report that its acquisition by rival Halliburton could be blocked on antitrust grounds.
Baker Hughes, the number three oil services company after Halliburton and industry leader Schlumberger, sank as low as $52.80 a share following a Bloomberg News report that the $34.6 billion deal has sparked serious concerns from US antitrust regulators.
The shares later recovered and were down 3.1 percent at $58.77 near 1830 GMT. Halliburton lost 0.3 percent at $41.81.
Bloomberg, citing a person familiar with the matter, said regulators at the Justice Department fear that the deal will leave oil producers vulnerable to less competition in key services.
Although Halliburton and Baker Hughes have promised to sell businesses to win antitrust approval, the worry is that the companies buying these assets would not be big enough to compete with Schlumberger and a bigger Halliburton, Bloomberg reported.
The Justice Department has not yet decided whether to try to block the merger, the article said, and the two companies agreed to extend the department's review of the case until later this year.
Meanwhile they are already working to spin off certain businesses and assets in hopes of easing the department's concerns.
If the deal dies for antitrust reasons, Halliburton will have to pay Baker Hughes $3.5 billion.