Halliburton VP: Timing Right for Oil Service Acquisitions

Halliburton Co. (HAL) will "be more aggressive" in pursuing acquisitions, with deals likely over the next 18 months, Mark McCollum, executive vice president, said Tuesday.

The second-largest oilfield service company by revenue reduced its share buybacks in the second half of 2007 in order to prepare for a push toward more and bigger deals, he said, speaking at the Credit Suisse Group Energy Conference in Vail, Colo.

McCollum noted that company valuations had fallen as private equity firms became less interested in service companies. The sector has been hit hard since the start of the year, as major players, including industry leader Schlumberger Ltd. (SLB), predicted slower earnings growth in 2008. The Oil Service Sector Index, traded on the Philadelphia Stock Exchange, is off 18% since hitting an all-time high on Jan. 3. Halliburton's stock has fared slightly better, falling 13% over the same period.

"Things have become more reasonable, and as a result we think it's a ripe market for us to be very active," he said.

At 12:06 p.m. EST, Halliburton shares on the New York Stock Exchange were trading at $34.37, down 1%.

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