The Slovenia Times

Brussels freezes investigation of MOL's takeover of OMV Slovenija

Daily news

Ljubljana/Brussels - The web portal Necenzurirano reports that the European Commission has frozen the in-depth investigation of the purchase of service stations of OMV Slovenija by the Hungarian energy group MOL until further notice. The investigation will resume after the Commission receives the required documentation from MOL.

Necenzurirano said on Wednesday that the in-depth investigation of the second largest fuel retail network in Slovenia had been frozen as the Commission had not yet received the requested information from MOL within the specified period.

The Commission opened the investigation in June over concerns that the takeover - MOL signed a EUR 301 million contract in June 2021 to acquire a 92.25% stake in OMV Slovenija while it already holds the remaining 7.75% stake through Croatia's INA - would severely reduce competition on the Slovenian retail motor fuel market.

The deal means MOL - with 53 filling stations the third largest fuel retailer in Slovenia - would get another 120 service stations around the country. The largest fuel retailer in Slovenia by far is Petrol with 318 service stations.

"On July 15, the European Commission 'stopped the clock' in the in-depth investigation of the proposed takeover," the Commission told the portal on Tuesday, noting that it had not received information requested from the parties involved within a certain period of time.

The Directorate-General for Competition added that once this information was received, it would "restart the clock" and re-adjust the deadline for the final decision accordingly.

Until now, the deadline was 28 October, and the suspension means that the procedure will be prolonged at least until the end of the year, Necenzurirano said.

The Commission decided to check the deal in May, finding in a preliminary probe that the acquisition could seriously reduce competition on Slovenia's fuel market. It said that in many towns, MOL and OMV are direct rivals whereas the takeover would eliminate competition pressure.

As a result, Slovenia would have only two large fuel retailers, MOL and Petrol, which the Commission estimates could make it easier for them to coordinate pricing policy.

Brussels also noted the many barriers new fuel retailers face when trying to enter the Slovenian market in terms of cost, red tape and location, which makes the entry of new players in the short- and medium-terms not very likely. All the other small fuel retailers in Slovenia have negligible market shares.


More from Daily news