In order to get around the government's objections, the firms announced Wednesday that they'd reached an agreement to sell Arco's Alaska holdings to Phillips Petroleum for about $6 billion. The court, in turn, was expected to suspend court hearings indefinitely, with the FTC vowing to sit back down with the firms and make a good-faith effort to hammer out a deal. Of course, this is all still cold comfort to drivers on the West Coast who, for a different reason OPEC production controls are currently paying nearly $2 per gallon for gas.
Those with a soft spot for polysyllabic corporate monikers can rejoice the BP Amoco-Arco deal is on again. When first announced late last year, the $30 billion merger raised eyebrows among federal regulators, who moved to block the deal in court. The big problem wasn't size after all, Exxon and Mobil last year combined in an $80 billion deal. Rather, according to the Federal Trade Commission, it was the fact that the combined entity would own 70 percent of Alaska's oil fields, giving it a monopolistic hold on West Coast gasoline prices.