Agip and Repsol to merge?

TWO of the oil companies which have been involved in Formula 1 in recent years - Italy's Agip and Spain's Repsol - are tipped to be discussing a possible merger. The stories have been denied by Gian Maria Gros-Pietro, the boss of Agip's parent company Eni.

Repsol is about half the size of Eni but the two firms combined would be large enough to compete with the other oil and gas majors in the world. There has been pressure on the smaller European oil firms to discuss mergers since the consolidation of the oil industry created the Exxon-Mobil and Texaco-Chevron giants. France's two big oil firms Elf and Petrofina have also merged in recent years.

Repsol was expected to be a sponsor in F1 this year but when Arrows decided to ditch Pedro de la Rosa the Spanish firm decided to sit out the season. Repsol may be planning to return to F1 next year with Jaguar Racing.

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