Phillips, Conoco complete merger
By David Ho
WASHINGTON -- Phillips Petroleum Co. and Conoco Inc. merged Friday to create the third-largest U.S. oil and gas company after receiving federal approval for the $15.1 billion deal.
The Federal Trade Commission voted 5-0 for the deal, but required the companies to sell refineries in Utah and Colorado and certain operations in Missouri, Illinois, New Mexico, Texas and Washington state.
Joe Simons, director of the FTC's Bureau of Competition, said the agency believes the conditions attached to the approval will help maintain competition in the energy market.
The companies announced in November their intention to merge and to base the new company, ConocoPhillips, in Houston.
The deal creates the world's sixth-largest oil and gas company. In the United States, ConocoPhillips is No. 3 behind Exxon Mobil Corp. and ChevronTexaco Corp.
Archie Dunham, chairman of the board of ConocoPhillips, told reporters that consumers would not see changes in brand names.
"We'll take advantage of the Conoco brand where it's the strongest brand. We'll use the Phillips brand where it's the strongest," he said.
The combined company is now the country's top refiner and a gas retailing giant, with about 17,000 filling stations nationwide.
Fadel Gheit, an energy analyst with Fahnestock &; Co., said the deal shouldn't affect consumers or gas prices.
"It was a step that was necessary for both companies. They could not have survived single," he said. "Bigger is better in the business where you don't know where oil prices are going to be a year from now."