The US Department of Justice (DOJ) [official website] filed a civil antitrust lawsuit [complaint, PDF] Wednesday to block Halliburton’s proposed acquisition of Baker Hughes, Inc. [corporate websites]. The two companies are giants in the oilfield services industry and together would comprise a majority of oil-related business. The DOJ alleges [press release] that the transaction threatens to eliminate competition, raise prices and reduce innovation in the oilfield services industry. According to the suit, the proposed purchase of Baker Hughes, Inc. would violate Section 7 of the Clayton Act [text, PDF] because it would combine two of the three largest providers of oilfield services providers in the world.
Suits alleging monopolies have become commonplace of recent, as many of the world’s largest companies have faced antitrust charges [JURIST backgrounder] in the US and internationally. In 2015 the European Commission opened an investigation [JURIST report] into potential antitrust violations in the e-commerce market with the scope of the investigation including a number of the world’s largest technology and search companies. The prior month, the European Commission initiated antitrust proceedings against Google [JURIST report] accusing the company of utilizing its dominant position in the search engine market to hurt competitors. Earlier that year a judge for the Northern District of California dismissed a class action suit against Google [JURIST report] for allegedly monopolizing search engines in Android phones. In 2014 a judge for the US District Court for the Northern District of California approved a settlement between federal antitrust authorities and eBay [JURIST report] over allegations that eBay agreed to not to selectively recruit and hire employees from rival companies.