The Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC) is opposing the proposed acquisition of Mobil Oil Australia’s retail assets by Caltex Australia.
The ACCC’s main concern is the effect the acquisition could have on the local market competition for the supply of petrol, diesel and automotive LPG, as well as the stability and effectiveness of coordination between the major fuel retailers in determining petrol prices.
"The ACCC concluded that the acquisition by Caltex of Mobil’s 300 service stations would be likely to substantially lessen competition across a range of retail fuel markets," said ACCC chairman Graeme Samuel.
The ACCC identified 53 Mobil sites which, if acquired by Caltex, would be likely to result in a substantial lessening of competition in the retail markets for the supply of petrol, diesel or automotive LPG.
"The acquisition of these sites by Caltex would be likely to lead to reduced retail competition resulting in higher fuel prices for consumers," said Samuel.
"The proposed acquisition would give Caltex a significant share of retail sites in Brisbane, Sydney, Melbourne and Adelaide. As one of the leaders of the weekly price cycle in these cities, this increase in Caltex’s presence would increase the likelihood of stable price increases particularly compared to a situation where some or all of the sites are acquired by more maverick or aggressive retailers," he said.
In response to ACCC’s decision, Caltex said it is considering its options.
"Caltex will consider its position on the basis of today’s announcement, the public competition assessment and further discussion it proposes having with the ACCC,” said Caltex managing director and CEO Julian Segal. “Caltex will then determine what action it will take in response to the announcement.”