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Container lines have not breached competition law, says EC investigation

The European Commission (EC) has closed its formal investigation into leading container shipping lines, concluding there is no evidence the carriers have infringed EU competition law.

Maersk, Mediterranean Shipping Company (MSC), CMA CGM and 12 other major container lines had been under investigation by the EC since November 2013.

The investigation looked at whether the lines had illegally colluded in hiking prices through public general rate increase (GRI) announcements on their websites and in the trade press since 2009.

Now the case is closed, the carriers say they will change the way they make price announcements to customers, including the way GRIs are announced. The lines first offered to change their pricing structures in February.

Maersk Line today said it will continue to announce price increases “by the usual communication channels” 30 days before the changes come into effect, but the announcements will now include the total price resulting from the increase “and further elements to increase transparency for customers”.

The other companies reportedly involved in the inquiry are Taiwan’s Evergreen Marine; Germany’s Hapag Lloyd and Hamburg Sud; China Ocean Shipping (Group) Company (COSCO), China Shipping, OOCL (Orient Overseas Container Line); South Korean’s Hanjin and Hyundai Merchant Marine; Japan’s Mitsui OSK Lines (MOL) and Nippon Yusen Kaisha; United Arab Shipping Company and Israel’s Zim.

“We are very pleased that the EU Commission has closed the case without finding an infringement of EU competition law. We and the other shipping companies have throughout declared that we have not engaged in any practices that contravene EU competition law,” Camilla Jain Holtse, Maersk Line’s chief legal counsel on competition compliance, said in a release.

Holly Birkett

Holly is Splash's Online Editor and correspondent for the UK and Mediterranean. She has been a maritime journalist since 2010, and has written for and edited several trade publications. She is currently studying for membership of the Institute of Chartered Shipbrokers. In 2013, Holly won the Seahorse Club's Social Media Journalist of the Year award. She is currently based in London.


  1. I think the main point is missed, namely the price in the future is “all in” but this time a genuine all in.

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