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Alimentation Couche-Tard Inc. agreed to divest up to 71 retail fuel stations with convenience stores to Empire Petroleum Partners in order to settle charges that ACT’s proposed $4.4 billion acquisition of competitor CST Brands, Inc. would violate federal antitrust law. The divestiture order requires ACT to divest 70 CST fuel stations to Empire, and to give Empire the option of acquiring an additional location owned by ACT. The fuel stations to be divested are in Arizona, Colorado, Florida, Georgia, Louisiana, New Mexico, Ohio, and Texas. According to the complaint, the geographic markets for the retail sale of gasoline and diesel are localized, generally ranging from a few blocks to a few miles. The complaint alleges that without a remedy the merger would significantly increase market concentration for the retail sales of gasoline or diesel in each of the 71 local markets, resulting in a monopoly in ten markets and reducing the number of competitors in the rest to two or three.
Alimentation Couche-Tard Inc. and CST Brands, Inc.; Analysis to Aid Public Comment; Proposed Consent Agreement
FTC Imposes Conditions on Acquisition of Industrial Valve Manufacturer Pentair plc by Emerson Electric Co.
FTC Approves Final Order Preserving Competition in 3 Natural Gas Production Areas off the Coast of Louisiana
Enbridge Inc. and Spectra Energy Corp agreed to settle FTC charges that their proposed merger likely would harm competition in the market for pipeline transportation of natural gas in three production areas off the coast of Louisiana. According to the FTC’s complaint, the merger likely would reduce natural gas pipeline competition in three offshore natural gas producing areas in the Gulf of Mexico—Green Canyon, Walker Ridge and Keathley Canyon—leading to higher prices for natural gas pipeline transportation from those areas. In portions of the affected areas, the FTC alleged, the merging parties’ pipelines are the two pipelines located closest to certain wells and, as a result, are likely the lowest cost pipeline transportation options for those wells. According to the FTC, the merger would give Canada-based Enbridge an ownership interest in both pipelines, which will give it access to competitively sensitive information of the Discovery Pipeline, as well as significant voting rights over the Discovery Pipeline. Access to its competitor’s competitively sensitive information and significant voting rights would provide Enbridge with the incentive and opportunity to unilaterally increase pipeline transportation costs for natural gas producers located in the affected areas. The exchange of information also may increase the likelihood of tacit or explicit anticompetitive coordination between the Walker Ridge Pipeline and the Discovery Pipeline. Under the settlement with the FTC, the companies have agreed to conditions that will preserve competition in those areas.The consent agreement requires Enbridge to establish firewalls to limit its access to non-public information about the Discovery Pipeline. Board members of the Spectra-affiliated companies that hold a 40 percent share in the Discovery Pipeline must recuse themselves from any vote involving the pipeline, with two limited exceptions. Also under the order, Enbridge must notify the Commission before acquiring an ownership interest in any natural gas pipeline operating in the Green Canyon, Walker Ridge and Keathley Canyon areas, or increasing the 40 percent ownership interest of Spectra affiliate DCP Midstream Partners, LP in the Discovery Pipeline.
FTC and Department of Justice Submit Comment to FERC on Need for Careful Market Power Analysis of Electricity Markets
FTC Closes Investigation into Merger of Energy Transfer Equity, L.P., and The Williams Companies, Inc.
Energy companies Energy Transfer Equity, L.P. (“ETE”), and The Williams Companies, Inc., agreed to divest Williams’ interest in an interstate natural gas pipeline to proceed with ETE’s proposed acquisition of Williams. According to the complaint, the proposed merger, if consummated, would have reduced competition in the market for “firm” – i.e., guaranteed – pipeline capacity to deliver natural gas to points within the Florida peninsula. In Florida, natural gas is extensively used for electric power generation, making competitive access to constant and reliable sources of supply critical. The complaint alleges that absent a remedy, the acquisition would eliminate the competition between FGT and Gulfstream, which historically has enabled Florida customers to obtain lower transportation rates and better terms of service. It also would have resulted in a pipeline monopoly at many natural gas delivery points within the peninsula. The complaint also alleges that the proposed merger likely would harm future competition from a new interstate pipeline, Sabal Trail Transmission LLC, which is scheduled to start transporting natural gas to parts of the Florida peninsula in May 2017. According to the complaint, Sabal Trail and its future customers will rely on leased access to a segment of the Transco Pipeline, a Williams-owned, large interstate pipeline, for natural gas supply. The complaint alleges that the newly merged company would have an incentive to deny Sabal Trail additional capacity expansions on Transco because ETE’s FGT pipeline is a closer competitor to Sabal Trail than was Williams’ Gulfstream pipeline.
FTC Announces Agenda for Workshop to Examine Competition and Consumer Protection Issues in the Rooftop Solar Business
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