BP's plan to buy 531 Woolworths fuel stations opposed by ACCC

The ACCC fears the buy up will substantially lessen competition in the fuel market and add to costs for motorists

Mr Sims said that fuel prices would be likely to increase at the Woolworths sites, if they were to be acquired by BP causing other retailers to suffer from less competitive pressure.

The deal with Woolworths was struck in 2016 and would have added about 530 gas stations to BP's Australian portfolio, plus more than a dozen development sites.

To come to its decision, the ACCC analyzed price data from major Australian cities, finding that BP's prices in Sydney, for instance, were 3 cents above the average, while Woolworths' were 0.2 cents below that level.

The ACCC's decision to block BP's proposed takeover of Woolworths petrol stations has been welcomed by the SME sector as a win for competition protections.

For now, the two companies have expressed disappointment and said they were considering next steps.

According to the competition regulator, the deal would be detrimental to competition on the fuel market by removing Woolworths as a pricing competitor to BP.

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BP supplies fuel to about 1,400 BP-branded service stations throughout Australia.

In the statement released by BP, the company said it believes a partnership between Woolworths and BP would provide a compelling new offer to the market and transform convenience retailing in Australia. Many consumers seeking out cheaper petrol will head to Woolworths petrol stations.

"The ACCC has stated in its announcement, and we agree, that if the acquisition was to proceed, motorists will end up paying more for petrol".

Holmes noted that the firm is now consulting with its lawyers to determine next steps.

"BP generally increases prices faster than Woolworths during price increase phases, and is slower to discount during the price discounting phase of cycles", says ACCC chairman Rod Sims.

Woolworths says it has worked closely over many months with BP and the ACCC through an extremely rigorous and demanding process.

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