Retail motor fuel markets. The acquisition of OMV Slovenija by MOL under investigation

On 23 June 2022, the European Commission opened an in-depth investigation to assess whether the proposed acquisition of OMV Slovenija (“OMV”) by MOL Hungarian Oil and Gas Plc (“MOL”) under the EU Merger Regulation, notified on 13 May 2022, may reduce competition in the retail motor fuel markets in Slovenia.

MOL and OMV are respectively the third and second largest fuel suppliers in Slovenia. More particularly MOL, headquartered in Hungary, is the parent company of the MOL Group, an integrated oil and gas group whose principal activities are the exploration, production and refining of crude oil as well as the distribution of refined oil products, while OMV, headquartered in Slovenia, is active in the retail sale of motor fuel.

According the Commission, given that MOL and OMV compete head-to-head in many local areas throughout Slovenia, the transaction may significantly reduce competition in the retail supply of motor fuels to individuals and businesses. In a very transparent market with high barriers to entry and expansion, indeed, the transaction would remove the main competitive constraint that MOL and Petrol currently face, with all other competitors significantly smaller and new entries unlikely on any significant scale in the short to medium run.

MOL decided not to submit commitments to address the Commission’s preliminary concerns, which now has 90 working days, until 28 October 2022, to take a decision.

Marco Stillo