Container shipping companies that are being investigated by the European Commission over a suspected breach of antitrust rules have agreed to settle with the Commission and change their pricing policies so as to avoid fines, Reuters reports citing sources familiar with the matter.
The Commission launched the investigation in November 2013, claiming that since 2009, major global container shipping companies have been making regular public announcements on price increases signaling future price intentions to each other and harming competition.
The price hikes were related to the market for container liner shipping transport services on routes to and from Europe.
As the announcements were made several times a year and contained the amount of increase and the date of implementation, generally similar for all announcing companies and were made successively a few weeks before the announced implementation date, a suspicion arises on whether the liners were working in cahoots.
However, the liners, which are already hit hard by dwindling rates and an overall capacity oversupply, decided to settle on the matter and dodge fines that would hurt their already affected yearly profits.
As a result of the settlement, the liners are reported to have promised to publish binding actual rates a month before they go into effect, Reuters informed.
The companies said to be included in the investigation are big league players such as Maersk Line, Mediterranean Shipping Company (MSC), CMA CGM, Evergreen Marine, Hapag Lloyd, China Ocean Shipping (Group) Company (COSCO), China Shipping, Hamburg Sud, Hanjin, OOCL (Orient Overseas Container Line), Japan’s Mitsui OSK Lines (MOL), United Arab Shipping Company, Nippon Yusen Kaisha, Hyundai Merchant Marine and Zim.
World Maritime News Staff