Forming Kuwait Oil Inc.

The sheikdom pays $2.5 billion to buy a U.S. drilling firm

Kuwait has justly earned a reputation for being the savviest investor among the world's oil rich. The Persian Gulf sheikdom of 1.4 million people has aggressively bought everything from a West German steel mill to a South Carolina resort community. Last week Kuwait struck its biggest, and potentially most controversial, deal yet: a $2.5 billion takeover of the Santa Fe International Corp., of Alhambra, Calif., a leading oil-drilling contractor (1980 revenues: $1.2 billion).

The offer brings Kuwait closer to a long-sought goal of diversifying...

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