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Gas-Station Units Too Powerful to Merge, German Regulator Says

Royal Dutch Shell Plc, Total SA, BP Plc, Exxon Mobil Corp. and ConocoPhillips wouldn’t win approval for any mergers of their German gas-station units because they already control the market, the country’s antitrust agency said.

The Federal Cartel Office won’t defer to a court ruling that toppled its veto of the sale of 59 OMV AG gas stations to Total, it said in an e-mailed statement today. The deal had been dropped after the veto and the case is now on appeal.

“Takeovers and purchases of filling-stations are only permissible in narrow limits to avoid further concentration,” the office said.

Last week, PKN Orlen SA’s Orlen Deutschland unit received the regulator’s approval to acquire 56 OMV filling stations in Saxony and Thuringia. That transaction was cleared because Orlen is outside the dominant group of gas-station operators, the office said today.

Shell also curtailed plans to buy filling stations in Germany after the regulator voiced concerns, according to the statement.

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