Exclusive: PKN set to win EU antitrust approval for Lotos deal - sources

FILE PHOTO: The logo of PKN Orlen, Poland's top oil refiner, is pictured at a petrol station in Warsaw, Poland April 25, 2019. REUTERS/Kacper Pempel/File Photo

BRUSSELS (Reuters) - Poland's biggest refiner PKN Orlen PKN.WA is set to gain EU antitrust approval for its takeover of smaller rival Lotos LTSP.WA after sweetening concessions aimed at allaying competition concerns, people familiar with the matter said.

State-run PKN wants to buy at least 53% of Lotos, in which Poland holds a 53.19% stake. EU competition enforcers, however, are concerned that the deal may push up prices and reduce competition in Poland, the Czech Republic, Estonia, Lithuania, Latvia and Slovakia.

PKN last month offered to sell Lotos' stake in a joint venture with BP BP.L called LOTOS - Air BP Polska (LABP) and also pledged to supply jet fuel to LABP with the aim of creating a viable competitor, other sources had told Reuters.

The company subsequently made some minor changes to the package after rivals and customers provided feedback to the European Commission, one of the people said.

The EU executive, which has set a July 22 deadline for its decision, declined to comment. It is scheduled to brief national competition agencies on the deal on July 2.

“We are in the final stage of negotiations with the Commission,” said a PKN spokeswoman, declining to comment further.

PKN’s concessions submitted to the Commission last month included a promise to increase on a yearly basis the amount of jet fuel to be supplied to LABP, access to jet fuel storage capacity for three airports.

It also offered to build a new jet fuel import terminal at an airport. The package covers the wholesale fuels market, retail supply of fuels and supply of jet fuel, bitumen and lubricants.

Reporting by Foo Yun Chee, additional reporting by Agnieszka Barteczko in Warsaw; editing by Marine Strauss and Louise Heavens