Patrick Crow Washington, D.C.
The Federal Trade Commission's approval of the British Petroleum Co. plc and Amoco Corp. combination will likely make it tougher for Exxon Corp. and Mobil Corp. to merge.
BP's and Amoco's operations fit quite well together with relatively little overlap. FTC had been expected to approve their union by early December, requiring only the sale of some terminals.
But the Exxon-Mobil announcement Dec. 1 changed things.
FTC reconsidered the BP-Amoco merger for nearly a month: it knew that the U.S. gasoline market now would be losing not one, but two major players.
So it raised the ante for BP Amoco. Alth...