Instant Analysis: European Regulator Approves Schlumberger/Cameron Merger

The European Commission waves the deal through.

Eric Volkman
Eric Volkman
Feb 8, 2016 at 4:45PM
Energy, Materials, and Utilities

What happened?
Schlumberger (NYSE:SLB) has received a key approval in its takeover bid of peer oil services concern Cameron International (UNKNOWN:CAM.DL). The European Commission, which rules on antitrust matters for the European Union, gave the acquisition a green light.

The EC said it did so because "the proposed acquisition would raise no competition concerns, given the very limited overlaps between the companies' activities and the modest increment in market shares brought about by the transaction."

Schlumberger and Cameron International agreed their deal last August. It will be effected by a mix of cash and stock worth a total of around $12.7 billion.

The EC's move comes several months after the U.S. Department of Justice approved the transaction without conditions. The only regulatory nod remaining is that from China's Ministry of Commerce, which began its 30-day phase 1 review process on Feb. 4.

Does it matter?
Shareholders will certainly be bolstered by the news (although Justice's nod was more significant), as it clears Schlumberger/Cameron International to operate in EU countries. It's also a time for banding together instead of competing alone -- weak crude prices are making it tough out there for any company involved in the oil business. So investors should be satisfied that the deal is one step closer to realization.

We shouldn't expect a big stock price pop for either company, however. There was probably never a serious risk that regulators would object to the acquisition; although both operate in the same general segment of oilfield services, their offerings compliment each other, rather than overlap. That's in contrast to the proposed Halliburton/Baker Hughes tie-up, which has run into a regulatory brick wall not least because the two large-scale companies have business profiles that are too close for comfort.