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With the blessings of the antitrust regulatory agencies and the ghost of John D. Rockefeller, the proposed marriage between Exxon and Mobil would create the world's largest energy company and corporation of any type. This merger also would reunite the two biggest pieces of Rockefeller's Standard Oil Company, which the U.S. Supreme Court ordered dismantled in 1911 in an antitrust case.

Exxon, Mobil, and financial analysts say the merger is driven by the need to operate more efficiently in a tough, competitive environment. The price of oil, after all, recently has been scraping near bottom of the barrel at about $11 per barrel, and companies often need to muster significant capital resources to develop more remote reservoirs.