The competition watchdog has called for preliminary comments on BP’s proposed $1.78 billion acquisition of Woolworths petrol stations, saying it is yet to receive a formal submission on the deal.

The Australian Consumer & Competition Commission yesterday said it had been notified of the planned acquisition, which the companies had announced on December 28.

“Once a submission is received the ACCC will commence a public review of the proposed acquisition (which will include consultation with interested parties), and will place an indicative timeline on this register,” the ACCC said yesterday.

It called for interested parties keen to comment on the acquisition before the review to contact the ACCC.

The deal is not expected to be finalised for up to a year, partly to allow the ACCC time to study the competition impacts of taking one player out of the hotly contested retail fuel market.

If successful, BP will emerge as the nation’s biggest owner of petrol stations after agreeing to pay $1.78bn for Woolworth’s fuel arm, with 527 petrol stations, and trumping a bid by rival Caltex.

As part of the deal, the pair plan to enter a partnership where 4c shopper dockets will be offered across BP service stations and up to 200 BP service stations refurbished in Woolworth’s Metro convenience format.

At the time of the announcement, BP Australia president Andy Holmes said Australia had a very competitive market.

Macquarie analysts said there were competition risks in the number of stores BP would be able to acquire and expansion of the fuel dockets program.

Extracted from The Australian.