South African Competition Commission rejects Japanese boxline merger plans

Plans by Japan’s three largest shipping lines to merge their container divisions have been thrown into disarray again.

The South African Competition Commission, the Pretoria-based antitrust watchdog, has decided not to support the joint venture between Mitsui OSK Lines (MOL), Nippon Yusen Kaisha (NYK) and Kawasaki Kisen Kaisha (K Line), ruling yesterday that the deal would encourage anti-competitive behaviour in the liner markets as well as in the car carrier sector, the latter of which all three have faced fines in the past from South African authorities over cartel behaviour.

Last month the Federal Maritime Commission in the United States also stated it was unable to approve the proposed merger as it falls outside its jurisdiction.

Amid unprecedented consolidation seen in the container shipping market in the past 18 months, NYK, K Line and MOL decided to join forces to give them a combined fleet of around 1.4m slots, ensuring they remain competitive costs-wise.

Sam Chambers

Starting out with the Informa Group in 2000 in Hong Kong, Sam Chambers became editor of Maritime Asia magazine as well as East Asia Editor for the world’s oldest newspaper, Lloyd’s List. In 2005 he pursued a freelance career and wrote for a variety of titles including taking on the role of Asia Editor at Seatrade magazine and China correspondent for Supply Chain Asia. His work has also appeared in The Economist, The New York Times, The Sunday Times and The International Herald Tribune.
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