U.S. Sues ValueAct Over Halliburton, Baker Hughes Stakes

(Bloomberg) -

ValueAct Capital Management funds were sued by the U.S. Justice Department for failing to notify the government of more than $2.5 billion in share purchases in Halliburton Co. and Baker Hughes Inc.

ValueAct, an activist fund run by Jeff Ubben, bought the stakes with the intent to influence the companies’ business decisions after Halliburton reached a deal in 2014 to buy Baker Hughes. That meant it was required to report the stake to antitrust officials, the U.S. said in the lawsuit filed Monday.

The violation “allowed ValueAct to become one of the largest shareholders of both Halliburton and Baker Hughes, without providing the government its statutory right to notice and prior review of the stock purchases,” the Justice Department said.

The Justice Department’s antitrust division is still investigating Halliburton’s takeover of Baker Hughes, which would unite the No. 2 and No. 3 oil-services firms behind Schlumberger Ltd.

The government said, “ValueAct established these positions as Halliburton and Baker Hughes were being investigated for agreeing to a merger that threatens to substantially lessen competition in numerous markets,” in the complaint.