Western Refining Co.’s planned purchase of a Scottsdale oil company took a giant step forward Tuesday.
El Paso, Texas-based Western’s planned takeover of Giant Industries scored several wins against federal regulators trying to scuttle the deal.
The Federal Trade Commission dumped all but one claim in advance of a scheduled Monday hearing by the U.S. District Court for the District of New Mexico.
Three weeks ago, the antitrust watchdogs sought a restraining order to halt the hookup of the refinery rivals, claiming it would restrict competition in northern New Mexico.
Western and Giant sought a hearing and asked the court to dismiss all FTC claims.
On Tuesday, the FTC dropped charges of anti-competitiveness in the “light petroleum products” market along with its separate claims involving diesel and jet fuel businesses — neither company even makes jet fuel — but the government still contends the merger would stifle competition for gasoline.
Attorneys representing Western and Giant would not comment Tuesday on the impending hearing, the still outstanding claim or the oil companies’ chances of winning that one as well.
Both Western and Giant are small, independent oil companies competing with international oil industry giants.
The Scottsdale company operates three refineries, two wholesale gas distributors — Phoenix Fuel and Dial Oil Co. — a crude oil pipeline, a fleet of truck transports and 153 retail stores/gas stations.
Western hopes to buy Giant for $77 a share plus debt assumption, a deal worth $1.4 billion.
The merger between the two oil companies was expected to close in the first quarter, but the FTC had asked for more documents, which Giant and Western said they provided as requested.
Besides producing everything requested by the FTC, the two oil companies said they have provided letters of support for the merger from state government officials, industry trade organizations and customers.