With crude prices headed for goodness knows where, and operators wading into progressively deeper water in search of new discoveries, Houston-based Halliburton (NYSE: HAL ) jumped into the quest for Expro International Group, an oilfield services company based in Reading, U.K.
Halliburton, the second-largest factor in the services sector behind Schlumberger (NYSE: SLB ) , has apparently offered $3.4 billion for Expro, which produces equipment that permits the testing of wells drilled in waters exceeding 1,000 meters deep. It trumps an earlier offer by a unit of Goldman Sachs (NYSE: GS ) , along with private equity firm Candover Partners, and Dutch investor AlpInvest Partners.
At this point, it's impossible to know whether the trio will attempt to top Halliburton's offer. Either way, however, my betting is that, given the determination of Halliburton's CEO Dave Lesar to expand and diversify his company and its capabilities, Halliburton will ultimately emerge victorious in its quest for Expro.
While not long ago, offshore drilling to just a few hundred feet was the norm for exploration and production companies, new discoveries are occurring in depths to several thousand feet more and more frequently. Further, deepwater drillers Transocean (NYSE: RIG ) and Diamond Offshore (NYSE: DO ) have ridden the trend to relative stardom within the offshore drilling group.
Given these trends, the addition of Expro would be an important arrow in Halliburton's capabilities quiver. Lesar has made a number of other moves in the past couple of years that I believe have benefited the company materially. I suggest that you carefully watch Halliburton and its progress toward acquiring Expro. What better combination than a well-managed company that just happens to be operating in what is a front-and-center sector?
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