Wilh. Wilhelmsen Hit Hard by Anti-Trust Probe Provision

Norwegian maritime industry group Wilh. Wilhelmsen Holding (WWH) reported USD 157 million operating loss for the quarter ended September 30, caused mostly by a USD 200 million provision related to ongoing anti-trust investigations in two of the company’s joint ventures, Wallenius Wilhelmsen Logistics (WWL) and EUKOR Car Carriers.

The company’s bottom line for the quarter was also impacted by a USD 50 million impairment charge in Wilhelmsen Maritime Services linked to the remaining goodwill originating from the Callenberg acquisition in 2008, and a 14% decrease in the total income compared to the same period a year earlier, due to a weaker performance in the group’s shipping activities. WWH delivered a total income of USD 795 million in the third quarter.

“Reduced demand for transportation of autos and high and heavy units had a negative impact on our shipping income. In addition, certain activities related to our maritime service segment showed reduced earnings. Combined with a continued strong USD, this led to weaker underlying operations,” said Thomas Wilhelmsen, group CEO.

“It is unfortunate to present a quarter deeply affected by a provision related to ongoing anti-trust investigations in WWASA’s joint ventures, Wallenius Wilhelmsen Logistics (owned 50%) and EUKOR Car Carriers (owned 40%). As the investigations are confidential, we cannot comment on specific jurisdictions. However, we see it as prudent to make a provision. We do expect further clarifications in the coming months, but understand the progress is slower in some jurisdictions, postponing a final conclusion,” said Wilhelmsen.

Adjusting for the USD 250 million in non-recurring items, the company’s operating profit amounted to USD 93 million, up 12% compared with the Q32014.

Commenting on the outlook for the group, Wilhelmsen said: “The car and ro-ro markets are expected to remain challenging, with added pressure on margins. For our maritime service segment, we expect the challenging offshore market to continue to affect parts of the portfolio, while most business areas will continue to benefit from the strong USD.”

WWL and EUKOR Car Carriers are among several car-carrying companies being investigated in several jurisdictions, including Japan, South Africa, U.S. and the European Union, on the allegations of price-fixing.

WWL agreed to pay USD 34.3 million fine set by the Japan Fair Trade Commission. In July 2015, the South African Competition Commission and WWL agreed on a USD 7.5 million fine after the company admitted to colluding on 11 tenders with its competitors for the transportation of motorised vehicles to and from South Africa by sea.

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