Leading container lines offer to change pricing structure after EC anti-trust probe

Maersk, Mediterranean Shipping Company (MSC), CMA CGM and 12 other container carriers have offered to change their pricing structures to avoid fines from an EC anti-trust probe that has accused the lines of price fixing, reports say.

Sources told Reuters the companies have offered to publish binding actual rates a month before they go into effect and, in some circumstances, the figures may act as a price cap.

The Commission will seek feedback from third parties over the next two weeks before deciding whether to accept the lines’ offer and close the investigation, Reuters reports. If the companies are found to have acted illegally, they could reportedly be exposed to fines as high as 10% of their global turnover.

The European Commission’s competition regulator conducted dawn raids on the world’s 18 largest shipping companies in May 2011 and began a formal investigation in November 2013.

The other companies 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, Reuters said.

The probe found the shipping companies may have illegally colluded in hiking prices through public announcements of rate increase plans on their websites and in the trade press since 2009.

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.
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