Baker International Corp. and Hughes Tool Co. spent the weekend and all day Monday in meetings to try to salvage the proposed $1.2-billion merger of the two major oil service companies--a deal that was nearly derailed last week.
"There were some discussions going on Friday and over the weekend," Hughes Director Clinton Morris said.
And the meetings continued Monday, Baker Vice President Ronald Turner said, adding: "It was a day in which progress was made." But he declined to be more explicit about what was discussed or accomplished. He said he expected that the talks will stretch until Wednesday afternoon, when Hughes has scheduled a long-delayed meeting for its shareholders to vote on the merger.
Negotiations fell apart last Wednesday when Hughes threatened to scuttle the merger plan, complaining that Baker would not agree to alternative terms it had proposed to avoid certain Justice Department requirements that Hughes called "unreasonable." Just 15 minutes after Hughes made that announcement, Baker filed a $1-billion lawsuit in state court in Houston charging Hughes with breach of contract.
The next morning, Hughes officials--in a last-minute change of heart--invited Baker back to the bargaining table.
The stalemate hinges on the Justice Department's demand for the sale of certain Baker drill bit and pump business that would overlap similar Hughes businesses and thus create an illegal monopoly after the two companies merge.