GE in talks to buy world's No 3 oilfield services provider Baker Hughes:WSJ

A drill rig stands on the site of an oil well outside Williston, North Dakota, on Feb 12, 2015.
A drill rig stands on the site of an oil well outside Williston, North Dakota, on Feb 12, 2015. PHOTO: BLOOMBERG

NEW YORK (REUTERS) - General Electric Co is in talks to buy the world's No 3 oilfield services provider provider Baker Hughes Inc, the Wall Street Journal reported on Thursday (Oct 27), citing people familiar with the matter.

The acquisition would be the biggest in the history of the industrial giant and extend its bet on the battered oil industry, the Journal said.

GE has approached Baker Hughes, but details of the talks couldn't be learned and the talks could fall apart before an agreement is reached, the WSJ said.

Baker Hughes, which has a market capitalization of US$23.1 billion (S$32.22 billion), declined to comment.

The deal would be large even for GE, roughly double the size of its US$13 billion acquisition of power assets from Alstom last year. GE could not be immediately reached for comment.

Baker Hughes shares were up 13.7 per cent at US$62 in after-hours trading. GE shares were down 1.4 per cent at US$28.23.

GE said last week that it believes the oil market has bottomed, but that demand for the infrastructure equipment the company makes would take longer to recover, probably after the first half of next year.

Baker Hughes' planned merger with bigger rival Halliburton Co, valued at US$34.6 billion when it was announced in November 2014, fell through in May due to opposition from regulators.