HOUSTON, Dec 9 (Reuters) - Oilfield services company Halliburton's proposed $35 billion acquisition of rival Baker Hughes Inc will likely close in 2016 instead of this year as talks with U.S. regulators continue, a Halliburton executive said on Wednesday.
The companies have already agreed to divest $5.2 billion in overlapping businesses to quell concerns the merger would lead to higher prices and less innovation.
"Currently we are having substantive discussions with the (Department of Justice)," Christian Garcia, Halliburton's acting chief financial officer told Wells Fargo's Energy Symposium. "Depending on the outcome of these discussions and the remedies that may be required, there is strong likelihood that the closing of the transaction will slide to 2016."
Garcia said the companies were confident that the deal would be approved.
Halliburton is "finalizing negotiations" with buyers for the drilling businesses it first announced it would divest, Garcia said.
The deal, which would create the second-largest oilfield services company behind Schlumberger Ltd has so far won regulatory approvals in South Africa, Turkey, Colombia, Canada and Kazakhstan. Approvals from antitrust officials in other countries, including Australia and Brazil, were pending.
The proposed merger, first announced in 2014, was originally expected to close in late November, but U.S. regulators requested more information from the companies. That request extended the earliest closing date to Dec. 15.
(Reporting by Anna Driver; Editing by Terry Wade and Grant McCool)
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