Halliburton (NYSE:HAL) held a party this week, and too many people came.  According to the company, it'll be able to accept only about 40% of the shares of its stock tendered in exchange for shares of KBR (NYSE:KBR), the engineering and construction company that once was its subsidiary.

When Halliburton conducted its initial public offering of KBR last November, it kept 80% of KBR's shares, saying that it would spin off the remaining shares it held in April. The IPO netted Halliburton about $500 million.

Now that April's arrived, the exchange offer netted the tender of 211 million Halliburton shares, although Halliburton said that it would accept only 85.3 million of its shares. The exchange starting gun was fired on March 2 and called for one share of Halliburton common to be exchanged for every 1.5905 shares of KBR stock.

KBR is ultimately a combination of M.W. Kellogg and Brown and Root, the former engineering and construction arms of Dresser Industries and Halliburton, respectively. The two units were merged in 1998 when Dresser was acquired by Halliburton. In April of last year, Halliburton filed a registration statement to sell up to 80% of KBR, and on Nov. 16, that IPO was completed at $17 a share. The spun-off company's shares closed at $20.69 on Tuesday, 21.7% higher than the IPO price.   

KBR has traditionally generated lower margins than have Halliburton's energy services businesses, and therefore it was judged to be something of a drag on its former parent. In addition, KBR -- and by extension Halliburton -- has absorbed a plethora of criticism for its $19 billion in Pentagon contract work for the U.S. government in Iraq and Afghanistan. That criticism has clearly been intensified by Vice President Dick Cheney's 1995-2000 stint as the company's CEO.

Houston-based Halliburton made news last month when it surprisingly announced that it would establish headquarters in Dubai. The company also warned in March that a weather-related reduction in Canadian and North American drilling activity would result in its first-quarter earnings coming in a nickel or more below the $0.59 per share that had been anticipated. Despite the acrimony that's been directed its way, Halliburton has watched its shares increase 6% this year.

The fact is, Fools, that Halliburton is a major factor in the oilfield services industry, while KBR has virtually unmatched capabilities in certain aspects of engineering and construction. On those bases alone, I urge you to keep close tabs on those two companies, along with another oilfield giant, Schlumberger (NYSE:SLB). I continue to believe that these companies are extremely well-positioned in their respective fields and that activity in those fields is likely to expand materially in the years ahead.

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Fool contributor David Lee Smith owns shares in Schlumberger but not in the other companies mentioned. He welcomes your questions or comments. The Fool has a disclosure policy.