GE gets antitrust approval to buy oil pump maker Lufkin


General Electric Co has won U.S. antitrust approval to buy oilfield pump maker Lufkin Industries Inc , a $2.98 billion deal that will allow GE to sharply increase its presence in the fast-growing market to extract oil and natural gas from shale.

The Federal Trade Commission, which works with the Justice Department to enforce antitrust law, announced the approval on Friday.

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GE said it hoped to close the acquisition, announced April 8, by June.

The deal is GE's first major acquisition since the conglomerate sold its remaining stake in NBC Universal two months ago.

GE Chief Executive Jeffrey Immelt has spoken recently of plans to focus more on growth in the energy-rich shale fields of North Dakota, Texas and elsewhere in the United States.

Lufkin's pumps, also known as artificial lift products, are commonly seen seesawing back and forth on top of energy wells to pull oil and natural gas to the surface.

(Reporting by Diane Bartz; editing by John Wallace)