Conoco looks at its options after ruling on Statoil bid


CONOCO Ireland, which owns the Jet petrol stations group, said yesterday it was still examining its options following the failure of Statoil's bid to take over the company.

Statoil, the Norwegian state owned multi national oil company, was prevented from taking over Jet's 257 petrol stations in Ireland by the Minister for Enterprise and Employment last week.

It followed a report by the Competition Authority which recommended the bid be rejected because of fears that the takeover could plead to higher petrol prices.

Conoco's managing director, Mr Alastair Clark, said yesterday that Conoco was "extremely surprised" and disappointed by the decision. "We are still looking at our options," he said. He declined to comment further on the matter.

Statoil's managing director, Mr Ray Clinton, was unavailable for comment yesterday. His company has also expressed extreme disappointment at the decision.

It is understood that both sides are consulting their legal advisers and may believe that the takeover could still proceed, albeit in a modified form. However, it is understood that there is little room for legal manoeuvre.

The takeover would have given Statoil marginally more than 25 per cent of the petrol market if it had gone ahead. Jet has a reputation as a low cost operator, whereas Statoil has not, according to the Competition Authority, and this was one of its reservations about the proposed deal.

Conoco could now try selling its stations to some other party. In its report, the Competition Authority said it had received submissions from another party not currently active in the State, which was interested in acquiring the Conoco business.

Although a price tag for the Jet stations was never revealed, industry sources put the figure at between £25 million and £30 million.