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Chevron Corporation and Unocal Corporation; Analysis of Agreement Containing Consent Order To Aid Public Comment

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AGENCY:

Federal Trade Commission.

ACTION:

Proposed consent agreement.

SUMMARY:

The consent agreement in this matter settles alleged violations of federal law prohibiting unfair or deceptive acts or practices or unfair methods of competition. The attached Analysis to Aid Public Comment describes both the allegations in the complaint and the terms of the consent order—embodied in the consent agreement—that would settle these allegations.

DATES:

Comments must be received on or before July 9, 2005.

ADDRESSES:

Interested parties are invited to submit written comments. Comments should refer to “Chevron Corporation, et al., File No. 051 0125,” to facilitate the organization of Start Printed Page 35430comments. A comment filed in paper form should include this reference both in the text and on the envelope, and should be mailed or delivered to the following address: Federal Trade Commission/Office of the Secretary, Room 159-H, 600 Pennsylvania Avenue, NW., Washington, DC 20580. Comments containing confidential material must be filed in paper form, must be clearly labeled “Confidential,” and must comply with Commission Rule 4.9(c). 16 CFR 4.9(c) (2005).[1] The FTC is requesting that any comment filed in paper form be sent by courier or overnight service, if possible, because U.S. postal mail in the Washington area and at the Commission is subject to delay due to heightened security precautions. Comments that do not contain any nonpublic information may instead be filed in electronic form as part of or as an attachment to email messages directed to the following email box: consentagreement@ftc.gov.

The FTC Act and other laws the Commission administers permit the collection of public comments to consider and use in this proceeding as appropriate. All timely and responsive public comments, whether filed in paper or electronic form, will be considered by the Commission, and will be available to the public on the FTC Web site, to the extent practicable, at http:www.ftc.gov. As a matter of discretion, the FTC makes every effort to remove home contact information for individuals from the public comments it receives before placing those comments on the FTC Web site. More information, including routine uses permitted by the Privacy Act, may be found in the FTC's privacy policy, at http://www.ftc.gov/​ftc/​privacy.htm.

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FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT:

Dennis Johnson, Bureau of Competition, 600 Pennsylvania Avenue, NW., Washington, DC 20580, (202) 326-2712.

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SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION:

Pursuant to section 6(f) of the Federal Trade Commission Act, 38 Stat. 721, 15 U.S.C. 46(f), and § 2.34 of the Commission Rules of Practice, 16 CFR 2.34, notice is hereby given that the above-captioned consent agreement containing a consent order to cease and desist, having been filed with and accepted, subject to final approval, by the Commission, has been placed on the public record for a period of thirty (30) days. The following Analysis to Aid Public Comment describes the terms of the consent agreement, and the allegations in the complaint. An electronic copy of the full text of the consent agreement package can be obtained from the FTC Home Page (for June 10, 2005), on the World Wide Web, at http://www.ftc.gov/​os/​2005/​06/​index.htm. A paper copy can be obtained from the FTC Public Reference Room, Room 130-H, 600 Pennsylvania Avenue, NW., Washington, DC 20580, either in person or by calling (202) 326-2222.

Public comments are invited, and may be filed with the Commission in either paper or electronic form. All comments should be filed as prescribed in the ADDRESSES section above, and must be received on or before the date specified in the DATES section.

Analysis of Agreement Containing Consent Order To Aid Public Comment

I. Introduction

The Federal Trade Commission (“Commission” or “FTC”) has issued a complaint (“Complaint”) alleging that the proposed merger of Chevron Corporation (“Chevron,” formerly ChevronTexaco Corporation) and Unocal Corporation (“Unocal”) (collectively “Respondents”) would violate Section 7 of the Clayton Act, as amended, 15 U.S.C. 18, and Section 5 of the Federal Trade Commission Act, as amended, 15 U.S.C. 45, and has entered into an agreement containing consent order (“Agreement Containing Consent Order”) pursuant to which Respondents agree to be bound by a proposed consent order (“Proposed Consent Order”). The Proposed Consent Order remedies the likely anticompetitive effects arising from Respondents' proposed merger, as alleged in the Complaint.

II. Description of the Parties and the Transaction

A. Chevron

Chevron is a major international energy firm with operations in North America and about 180 foreign countries in Europe, Africa, South America, Central America, Indonesia, and the Asia-Pacific region. Its petroleum operations consist of exploring for, developing and producing crude oil and natural gas; refining crude oil into finished petroleum products; marketing crude oil, natural gas, and various finished products derived from petroleum; and transporting crude oil, natural gas, and finished petroleum products by pipeline, marine vessels, and other means. The company operates light petroleum refineries for products such as gasoline, jet fuel, kerosene and fuel oil at Pascagoula, Mississippi; El Segundo, California; Richmond, California; Salt Lake City, Utah; and Kapolei, Hawaii. Chevron is a major refiner and marketer of gasoline that meets the requirements of the California Air Resources Board (“CARB”). Chevron also has operations for the manufacture and marketing of commodity petrochemicals for industrial uses and additives for fuels and lubricants. For 2004, the company had total revenues of approximately $155.3 billion and total assets of approximately $93.2 billion.

B. Unocal

Unocal is also a major international energy firm with operations in North America, Asia, and other locations around the world. Its primary activities are oil and gas exploration, development and production. It has oil and gas operations located in various countries, including Thailand, Myanmar, Indonesia, Azerbaijan, Bangladesh, and Vietnam. Unocal sold most of its downstream operations in the United States to another company in the mid-1990's. As a result, Unocal has no downstream operations in refining or gasoline retailing, and with a few exceptions almost all of Unocal's operations are in the upstream segment of the industry, i.e., exploration and production. The company had total revenues for 2004 of approximately $8.2 billion and total assets of approximately $13.1 billion.

III. The Transaction

Pursuant to an Agreement and Plan of Merger dated April 4, 2005, Chevron plans to acquire 100% of the voting securities of Unocal. Unocal will merge into a direct wholly-owned subsidiary of Chevron, with the subsidiary continuing as the surviving entity and a wholly-owned subsidiary of Chevron. Under the terms of the agreement, Unocal shareholders may elect to receive 1.03 shares of Chevron stock, $65 in cash, or the combination of $16.25 in cash and 0.7725 of a share of Chevron common stock. The election is subject to the limitation that 75% of the outstanding shares of Unocal common stock will be exchanged for Chevron common stock and 25% will be exchanged for cash, with prorationing in the event the cash election is oversubscribed or undersubscribed. The total value of the transaction is estimated at approximately $18 billion, which includes approximately $1.6 billion in assumed debt.

The transaction is subject to various closing conditions, including the approval of Unocal shareholders and the Start Printed Page 35431expiration or early termination of the waiting period under the Hart-Scott-Rodino Act, 15 U.S.C. 18A. The parties expect to close the transaction as soon as practicable after the last of the conditions to closing have been satisfied.

IV. The Complaint

The Complaint alleges that the merger of Chevron and Unocal would violate Section 7 of the Clayton Act, as amended, 15 U.S.C. 18, and Section 5 of the Federal Trade Commission Act, as amended, 15 U.S.C. 45, by substantially lessening competition in the refining and marketing of reformulated gasoline that has been approved by the California Air Resources Board (“CARB”) for sale in California. Through its wholly-owned subsidiary, Union Oil Company of California (“Union Oil”), Unocal owns a portfolio of five U.S. patents relating to reformulated gasoline (“RFG”). These patents (the “Relevant U.S. Patents”) cover the production and supply of CARB RFG, particularly in warmer weather months. To remedy the alleged anticompetitive effects of the merger, the Proposed Consent Order requires Respondents to take certain actions, including (1) to cease and desist from any efforts to assert or enforce any of the Relevant U.S. Patents against any person, to recover any damages or costs for alleged infringements of any of the Relevant U.S. Patents, or to collect any fees, royalties or other payments for the practice of the Relevant U.S. Patents; and (2) to take the necessary actions to dedicate to the public the remaining terms of the patents.

According to the Complaint, gasoline is a motor fuel used in automobiles and other vehicles. It is produced in various grades and formulations, including conventional unleaded gasoline, low emissions reformulated gasoline (“RFG”), California Air Resources Board (“CARB”) compliant reformulated gasoline, and others. CARB compliant reformulated gasoline (“CARB RFG”) is a type of gasoline that meets the specifications of the California Air Resources Board. CARB RFG is cleaner burning and causes less air pollution than conventional unleaded gasoline. The sale of any gasoline other than CARB RFG is prohibited in California, and there is no substitute for CARB RFG as a fuel for automobiles and other vehicles that use gasoline purchased in California. As a result, CARB RFG is a relevant line of commerce in which to analyze the potential effects of the merger.

CARB RFG is produced primarily in California and at a few other locations on the West Coast. The Complaint alleges that the state of California, and smaller areas contained therein, are relevant sections of the country in which to analyze the potential effects of the merger.

Chevron is a leading refiner and marketer of CARB RFG. Unocal does not refine or market CARB RFG. However, through its wholly-owned subsidiary, Union Oil, Unocal owns Relevant U.S. Patents relating to CARB RFG. Refiners must use the technology covered by the Unocal Relevant U.S. Patents for producing CARB RFG during warmer weather months—i.e., CARB “summertime” gasoline. Thus, Unocal controls an important input used by CARB refiners to produce CARB gasoline.

Unocal licenses its RFG patents to others in exchange for payments ranging from 1.2 to 3.4 cents per gallon. In addition, Unocal has won a patent infringement suit against major refiners of CARB RFG and obtained a court judgment awarding Unocal royalties of 5.75 cents per infringing gallon produced in California.

There are relatively few producers of CARB RFG. As a result, the relevant markets for the refining and marketing of CARB RFG are either highly concentrated or moderately concentrated. The Complaint further alleges that entry into the relevant lines of commerce in the relevant sections of the country is difficult and would not be timely, likely or sufficient to prevent anticompetitive effects resulting from the proposed merger.

The Complaint states that, because of factors such as Unocal's perception of possible actions by the California Air Resources Board or other governmental authorities, Unocal is likely to be constrained in charging the full monopoly level price to licensees of the Unocal patents. Moreover, Unocal has no operations at downstream levels of the industry through which it could attempt to recoup any additional profits.

Because of its significant operations at the refining and marketing levels, Chevron will have a greater ability than Unocal to obtain additional profits by coordinating with its competitors at the downstream refining and marketing levels. As part of Unocal's license agreements, Unocal regularly collects detailed reports from licensees about their production of CARB RFG and other refinery operations. By obtaining the Unocal patents, Chevron would receive additional information about the production of competitors and other information not otherwise available to members of the industry. Chevron could facilitate coordination among refiners and marketers of CARB RFG by using this information to monitor a collusive agreement and thus detect cheating on a collusive agreement. The anticompetitive effects from such coordination would be likely to outweigh any efficiencies that would be obtained by the integrated firm.

As a result, the Complaint charges that the effect of the proposed merger, if consummated, may be substantially to lessen competition in the marketing and refining of CARB RFG in the relevant sections of the country, in violation of Section 7 of the Clayton Act, as amended, 15 U.S.C. 18, and Section 5 of the Federal Trade Commission Act, as amended, 15 U.S.C. 45.

V. Resolution of the Competitive Concerns

The Commission has provisionally entered into an Agreement Containing Consent Order with Chevron and Unocal in settlement of the Complaint. The Agreement Containing Consent Orders contemplates that the Commission would issue the Complaint and enter the Proposed Consent Order requiring the relief described below.

In order to remedy the anticompetitive effects that have been identified, Chevron and Unocal have agreed to take several actions. First, they will cease and desist from any and all efforts, and will not undertake any new efforts, to assert or enforce any of Unocal's Relevant U.S. Patents against any person, to recover any damages or costs for alleged infringements of any of the Relevant U.S. Patents, or to collect any fees, royalties or other payments, in cash or in kind, for the practice of any of the Relevant U.S. Patents, including but not limited to fees, royalties, or other payments, in cash or in kind, to be collected pursuant to any License Agreement. These obligations become effective as of the “Merger Effective Date,” which is defined as the earlier of (1) the date that the certificate of merger for the Merger is filed with the Secretary of State of Delaware or such later time as specified in such certificate of merger, or (2) the date that Chevron acquires control of Unocal Corporation, as “control” is defined by 16 CFR 801.1(b).

Second, the Proposed Consent Order requires that, within thirty (30) days following the Merger Effective Date, Respondents shall file, or cause to be filed, with the United States Patent and Trademark Office, the necessary documents pursuant to 35 U.S.C. 253, 37 CFR 1.321, and the Manual of Patent Examining Procedure to disclaim or dedicate to the public the remaining term of the Relevant U.S. Patents. The Proposed Consent Order further requires Start Printed Page 35432that Respondents shall correct as necessary, and shall not withdraw or seek to nullify, any disclaimers or dedications filed pursuant to the order.

Third, the order requires that, within thirty (30) days following the Merger Effective Date, Respondents shall move to dismiss, with prejudice, all pending legal actions relating to the alleged infringement of any Relevant U.S. Patents, including but not limited to the following actions pending in the United States District Court for the Central District of California: Union Oil Company of California v. Atlantic Richfield Company, et al., Case No. CV-95-2379-CAS and Union Oil Company of California v. Valero Energy Corporation, Case No. CV-02-00593 SVW.

Paragraph V of the Proposed Consent Order requires Respondents to distribute a copy of the Order and the Complaint in this matter to certain interested parties, including (1) any person that either Respondent has contacted regarding possible infringement of any of the Relevant U.S. Patents, (2) any person against which either Respondent is, or was, involved in any legal action regarding possible infringement of any of the Relevant U.S. Patents, (3) any licensee or other person from which either Respondent has collected any fees, royalties or other payments, in cash or in kind, for the practice of the Relevant U.S. Patents, and (4) any person that either Respondent has contacted with regard to the possible collection of any fees, royalties or other payments, in cash or in kind, for the practice of the Relevant U.S. Patents.

Paragraph V also requires Respondents to distribute a copy of the Order and the Complaint to present and future officers and directors of Respondents having responsibility for any of Respondents' obligations under the Order, and to employees and agents having managerial responsibility for any of Respondents' obligations under the Order.

Paragraphs VI, VII and VIII of the Proposed Consent Order contain standard reporting, access, and notification provisions designed to allow the Commission to monitor compliance with the order. Paragraph IX provides that the Order shall terminate twenty (20) years after the date it becomes final.

VI. Opportunity for Public Comment

The Proposed Consent Order has been placed on the public record for thirty (30) days for receipt of comments by interested persons. Comments received during this thirty day comment period will become part of the public record. After thirty (30) days, the Commission will again review the Proposed Order and the comments received and will decide whether it should withdraw from the Proposed Order or make final the agreement's Proposed Order.

By accepting the Proposed Order subject to final approval, the Commission anticipates that the competitive problems alleged in the Complaint will be resolved. The purpose of this analysis is to invite public comment on the Proposed Order, and to aid the Commission in its determination of whether it should make final the Proposed Order contained in the agreement. This analysis is not intended to constitute an official interpretation of the Proposed Order, nor is it intended to modify the terms of the Proposed Order in any way.

Statement of the Federal Trade Commission

The Federal Trade Commission has voted unanimously (4-0-1, with Chairman Majoras recused) to accept two linked consent agreements that resolve both the Commission's monopolization case against Unocal Corporation's subsidiary Union Oil Company of California and any antitrust concerns arising from Chevron Corporation's pending acquisition of Unocal. The key element in the settlements, which will become effective when the acquisition is completed, is Chevron's agreement not to enforce certain Union Oil patents that potentially could have increased gasoline prices in California by over $500 million a year (or almost six cents per gallon). This agreement provides the full relief that the Commission sought in its administrative litigation with Union Oil and also addresses the only possible objection to the Chevron/Unocal acquisition.

On April 4, 2005, Chevron agreed to acquire Unocal in a transaction valued at approximately $18 billion. Chevron and Unocal both have extensive oil and gas operations. However, nearly all of Unocal's operations are in the so-called “upstream” segment of the business—namely, the exploration and production of crude oil and natural gas. Unocal has no refineries or gasoline stations in the United States or anywhere else in the world, and has few other “downstream” operations. As a result, virtually all of the competitive overlaps between the two firms are in unconcentrated upstream markets, and the merger thus creates no competitive risk. For example, Chevron and Unocal combined have only 2.7 percent of world crude oil production, 0.77 percent of world crude oil reserves, 11.3 percent of U.S. crude oil production, and 11.4 percent of U.S. crude oil reserves.[2] We want to emphasize that the merger will have no impact whatsoever on concentration at the retail or refinery levels. It is clear from all we have seen that Chevron's primary motivation is to gain access to Unocal's upstream oil reserves.

The only potential competitive concern with Chevron's proposed acquisition of Unocal involved patents held by Union Oil—the same group of patents involved in the Commission's monopolization case against Union Oil. In order to explain why this is so, it is necessary first to discuss the issues in this monopolization case.

The Commission's administrative complaint against Union Oil charged that the firm had illegally acquired monopoly power in the technology market for producing certain low-emission gasoline mandated by the California Air Resources Board (CARB) for sale and use in California for up to eight months of the year. According to the complaint, Union Oil misrepresented to CARB that certain gasoline research was non-proprietary and in the public domain, while at the same time it pursued a patent that would enable it to charge substantial royalties if the research results were used by CARB in the development of regulations. The complaint further asserted that Union Oil similarly misled its fellow members of private industry groups, which were also participating in the CARB rulemaking process. As a result, if Union Oil were permitted to enforce its patent rights, companies producing this low-emission CARB gasoline would be required to pay royalties to Union Oil, the bulk of which would be passed on to California consumers in the form of higher gasoline prices. The Commission estimated that Union Oil's enforcement of these patents could potentially result in over $500 million of additional consumer costs each year. The complaint sought an order requiring Union Oil to cease and desist from all efforts to assert these patents against those manufacturing, selling, distributing, or otherwise using motor gasoline to be sold in California. In the Start Printed Page 35433settlement announced today, Unocal and Chevron have agreed to all of this requested relief.

The consent orders also resolve any possible antitrust objections to the merger. Although Unocal does not engage in any refining or retailing itself, it had claimed the right to collect patent royalties from companies that did so (including Chevron). If Chevron had unconditionally inherited these patents by acquisition, it would have been in a position to obtain sensitive information and to claim royalties from its own horizontal downstream competitors. We have reason to believe that this scenario would likely have an adverse effect on competition and, in any event, would inevitably have required an extensive inquiry and possible litigation.

For example, Union Oil regularly collects detailed reports from licensees about their production of CARB gasoline and other refinery operations. If Chevron had continued these license agreements after inheriting Union Oil's patents, it would have received information not otherwise available to members of the industry. Chevron could have used this information to facilitate coordinated interaction and detect any deviations. Chevron might also have been able to use the patents to discourage maverick behavior. Our present knowledge suggests that the likely competitive harm from this potential coordination and discipline would outweigh any likely efficiency gains from the vertical integration of a merged Chevron-Unocal. Now, a further inquiry into that belief is not necessary.

The settlement of these two matters is thus a double victory for California consumers. The Commission's monopolization case against Unocal was complex and, with possible appeals, could have taken years to resolve. The stakes were high, and substantial royalties could have been paid in the meantime—with an immediate impact on consumers. If the Commission lost the case, the dollar costs to consumers ultimately would have been immense. At the same time, a challenge against the acquisition of Unocal by Chevron would itself be a complex case, with high stakes and an uncertain outcome. The settlement provides the full relief sought in the monopolization case and resolves the only competitive issue with the proposed merger. With the settlement, consumers will benefit immediately from the elimination of royalty payments on the Union Oil patents, and potential merger efficiencies could result in additional savings at the pump.

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By direction of the Commission, Chairman Majoras recused.

Donald S. Clark,

Secretary.

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Footnotes

1.  The comment must be accompanied by an explicit request for confidential treatment, including the factual and legal basis for the request, and must identify the specific portions of the comment to be withheld from the public record. The request will be granted or denied by the Commission's General Counsel, consistent with applicable law and the public interest. See Commission Rule 4.9(c), 16 CFR 4.9(c).

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2.  Sources for the underlying data include the Energy Information Administration, U.S. Department of Energy, U.S. Crude Oil, Natural Gas, and Liquids Table 2003 Annual Report, Table B5, available at http://www.eia.doe.gov, the FTC Bureau of Economics Staff Study, “The Petroleum Industry: Mergers, Structural Change, and Antitrust Enforcement,” August 2004, Table 5-3, available at http://www.ftc.gov/​os/​2004/​08/​040813/​mergersinpetrolberpt.pdf, and the Oil and Gas Journal.

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[FR Doc. 05-12044 Filed 6-17-05; 8:45 am]

BILLING CODE 6750-01-P