German government set to approve service station takeovers

The German Federal Cartel Office has said it plans to rule on BP PLC's and Royal Dutch/Shell Group's purchases of German gasoline stations this week, amid reports the regulator will approve the transaction with concessions.

By the OGJ Online Staff

LONDON, Dec. 19 -- The German Federal Cartel Office has said it plans to rule on BP PLC's and Royal Dutch/Shell Group's purchases of German gasoline stations this week, amid reports the regulator will approve the transaction with concessions.

While having looked at both cases individually, the antitrust authority is striving to make a decision for both cases together this week, spokesman Stefan Siebert said.

BP agreed to buy E.ON AG's oil and filling-station business in July, in a transaction that the German utility valued at $5.9 billion. Shell agreed to a similar pact, worth about $2.75 billion with RWE AG in March.

The cartel office refused to approve the transactions without concessions, because together the purchases would enable the companies to control 60% of Germany's filling-station market.

BP will probably have to sell sites equivalent to a 4% share of the market and Shell will probably have to sell filling stations representing 5%.

Both companies will also have to reduce their combined stake in Bayernoil Raffinerie GMBH, one of Germany's largest refineries. Deutsche BP AG, BP's German subsidiary, owns 55% of Bayernoil, while Shell's Ruhr Oel GMBH holds 25%. The rest is held by Agip Deutschland AG, a unit of Eni SPA.

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