December 6, 2023

European Container Shipping Lines Are Raided by Antitrust Officials

European antitrust officials raided several of the world’s largest container shipping companies over possible collusion, the European Commission said in a statement on Tuesday.

Although the statement did not name the companies, several of the shipping lines, including A.P. Moeller-Maersk of Denmark, CMA CGM of France and Hapag-Lloyd of Germany, acknowledged that they were part of the inquiry.

Regulators said they had “reason to believe” that the companies might have breached the European Union’s cartel or monopoly abuse rules. The raid did not mean that the companies were guilty of anticompetitive behavior, the commission said.

The container industry returned to profit last year as shipping volumes and freight rates increased.

Maersk will “fully cooperate with the commission’s employees to investigate the matter thoroughly,” Christian Kledal, the head of Maersk’s legal group, said in an e-mailed statement. The company’s “practices are in compliance with E.U. competition legislation,” he said.

Hapag-Lloyd, the shipping company owned by TUI and Albert Ballin, said it was also under investigation.

Hapag said in a statement that regulators were checking whether companies had breached antitrust rules since October 2008, when the European Union ended immunity to deals, known as liner shipping conference agreements, that fixed prices for almost two decades.

CMA CGM, the world’s third-largest container shipping company, also said in an e-mailed statement that it was part of the inquiry and that it was cooperating with regulators.

Others companies that said regulators had come to their offices included Hamburg Süd and Neptune Orient Lines Ltd.

Yang Ming Marine Transport and United Arab Shipping said they were not raided.

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