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    Phillips-Conoco Get Green Light

    Federal judge won't stop oil merger, FTC approval expected within weeks.

    TULSA, Okla. -- Phillips Petroleum Co. received a boost in its bid to acquire Houston-based Conoco Inc. yesterday when a federal judge rejected a company's bid to block the $35-billion deal.

    Even a short delay of the $35-billion merger would do more harm to Bartlesville, Okla.-based Phillips and Conoco in lost cost savings and future planning than it would save Transeuro Amertrans, the judge ruled, according to the Associated Press.

    Holmes also said London-based Transeuro, which buys gasoline from and has a service contract with the companies, failed to show it would be harmed by the merger and likely couldn't win its antitrust lawsuit. The merger is expected to be completed by the end of September.

    Transeuro sued April 30 in U.S. District Court in Tulsa alleging the merger, which would create the nation's third-largest oil company in terms of volume, would raise gasoline prices and stifle competition in the consolidating oil industry.

    The company filed for a temporary restraining order Tuesday after it claimed to have learned that the Federal Trade Commission would approve the acquisition within a week or two. The FTC is expected to require the companies to sell gasoline stations in the West and refineries before approving the deal. Both Phillips and Conoco have moved to meet those demands, the report said.

    ConocoPhillips, which would have its headquarters in Houston, would be the world's sixth-largest oil company and the nation's leading gasoline retailer. The combined firm would control 13 percent of the nation's refining capacity, officials said.

    Transeuro Amertrans argued that ConocoPhillips will be able to raise prices at its retail outlets and that reduced competition in an already consolidated industry would make price collusion easier, the report said. But Phillips and Conoco attorneys countered that the combined company will still lack the market share to control prices and that federal regulators consider the oil industry sufficiently competitive.

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