BP disappointed by ACCC opposition to Woolworths fuel takeover

The Australian Competition and Consumer Commission says it will oppose the planned acquisition of Woolworths’ network of retail service stations by BP Australia.

“We are disappointed by the news,” BP Australia President Andy Holmes said. “We remain confident that, with appropriate divestments as offered by BP, this transaction would not substantially lessen competition. In light of this, we are currently consulting with our lawyers to determine our next step.”

BP says it believes the acquisition would allow the company to offer quality fuels, Woolworths Rewards and high-quality food across the country, with similar BP partnerships already underway in the UK, Germany and South Africa.

ACCC Chair Rod Sims noted that Woolworths is an effective competitor that influences fuel prices and price cycles, while BP’s prices are significantly higher on average than Woolworths’ prices, as BP tends to increase prices faster and discount prices slower within the price cycle.

“We believe that fuel prices will likely increase at the Woolworths sites if BP acquires them, and other retailers would then face less competitive pressure,” he said. “The bottom line is that we consider motorists will end up paying more, regardless of where they buy fuel, if this acquisition goes ahead.”

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