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UPDATE 1-U.S. UCG stops sale of oil pricing unit OPIS to Platts

(Recasts, adds background)

SINGAPORE, Feb 14 (Reuters) - United Communications Group, a U.S. privately owned information company, said on Monday it had terminated an agreement to sell its subsidiary Oil Price Information Service (OPIS) to Platts, two months after inking the deal.

Platts, a unit of McGraw-Hill that provides energy and other commodity prices and news, announced the deal in December to buy rival OPIS to widen its market share and entrench its position as a pricing benchmark for oil products in North America.

“Since the initial announcement, our customers have informed us of their opposition to this combination,” Brian Crotty, CEO of OPIS, said in a statement. “In light of the concerns expressed by our customers, we have notified Platts that we are exercising our right to terminate the acquisition agreement.”

OPIS did not elaborate on what the termination entails. Platts could not be immediately reached for comment.

Platts said on Dec. 8 it will buy OPIS for an undisclosed sum and announced on Dec. 15 it will purchase natural gas analytics company Bentek Energy. Both deals were supposed to close early this year.

The leading oil price assessment agency had said the OPIS deal would give it a greater share of the oil pricing market used as a benchmark by producers and refiners to price products, especially in the rack business where OPIS has been dominant.

OPIS, owned by Maryland-based UCG, collects retail prices from more than 120,000 U.S. gasoline stations used as a benchmark for regional and national gasoline prices by travel club AAA.

OPIS also gathers prices in seven U.S. spot markets and is widely looked to within the oil industry as the authoritative source on wholesale or rack prices.

Thomson Reuters competes with both Platts and London-based Argus Media to provide news and price information to the oil industry. (Reporting by Florence Tan; Editing by Ed Lane)

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