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GE to buy Lufkin Industries for $3.1 billion

 

JONATHAN FAHEY,AP Energy Writer

 

NEW YORK (AP) — General Electric Co. has agreed to buy the oilfield equipment maker Lufkin Industries Inc. for $3.1 billion, furthering an effort by GE to grow its oil and gas operations.

GE said Monday that it would pay Lufkin shareholders $88.50 per share, a 38 percent premium over Lufkin's closing price on Friday of $63.93.

The companies valued the deal at $3.3 billion, which includes $200 million in debt to be assumed by GE.

CEO Jeff Immelt is in the process of transforming GE from a sprawling conglomerate to one that is more tightly focused on providing services and equipment to industrial customers. The company has shed divisions such as NBC Universal and is shrinking its banking operations.

Immelt indicated the company would use some of its enormous cash balance to buy mid-sized companies that fit well into what the company already does. GE makes aircraft engines, natural gas-fired turbines and generators, wind turbines, medical devices and locomotives.

GE is putting particular focus on oil and gas, hoping to capitalize on the boom in extracting oil from difficult places, such as deep offshore, shale formations under several U.S. states, or older depleting oil fields. GE bought Wellstream, a maker of flexible pipes for gathering oil undersea, in 2010, and a division of the John Wood Group, a maker of pumps and control systems, in 2011.

"Wells in the future are going to be more and more technically challenging," said Dan Heintzelman, who runs GE's oil and gas division, in an interview Monday.

Lufkin, based in Lufkin, Texas, makes pumping equipment that helps drillers extract more oil out of older fields or ones that need to be pumped because the oil and gas underground is not under enough pressure to be forced to the surface naturally. Heintzelman said 94 percent of wells will require some form of pumping, known in the industry as artificial lift.

GE's oil and gas related revenue has tripled since 2005, to $15 billion, accounting for 10 percent of the company's $147 billion total revenue last year.

Christopher Glynn, an analyst at Oppenheimer, said the deal fits nicely into GE's strategy. He said as oil and gas continues to get more expensive to produce there will be ample opportunity for GE's growing oil and gas division to offer products and services to help keep those costs in check and make fields more productive.

Lufkin shares climbed $24.28, or 38 percent, to $88.21 in morning trading. GE shares slipped 3 cents to $22.90.

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