Mike Stevens | Sep 3, 2009

CALTEX'S PROPOSED PURCHASE of 302 Mobil service stations in Australia could have a serious impact on its competition and result in higher fuel prices, according to the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC).

Giving it a 22 percent share of Australia's branded fuel market (up from 16 percent), the purchase would see Caltex displace Shell as the the biggest supplier in Victoria, and increase its majority hold in Queensland, New South Wales and South Australia.

“The ACCC is concerned that the proposed acquisition is likely to significantly increase Caltex’s ability and incentive to increase the wholesale price of petrol and diesel to non- integrated retailers,” the ACCC said today in a statement.

Australia presently has around 6000 service stations, 2128 of which will belong to Caltex after the proposed purchase at $300 million, which will be funded from Caltex's own cash reserves.

From the ACCC statement: "The preliminary view is that Caltex's position as the largest wholesale provider in each state is likely to provide it with the ability to increase wholesale market prices."

Caltex's new market share would match that of Coles and Woolworths.

Exxon Mobil is to retain a five percent share of the national branded fuel market after the sale. Competitor BP currently holds a 19 percent share.

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