EU regulators raid shipping companies

City A.M. Reporter
European Union regulators have raided several liner shipping companies, including Danish group AP Moller-Maersk, on suspicion of price fixing, the Commission and Maersk said.

"The (European) Commission has reason to believe that the companies concerned may have violated the antitrust rules that prohibit cartels and restrictive business practices and/or abuse of a dominant market position," the EU executive said.

The Commission, which can fine companies up to ten per cent of their global revenues for breaching EU rules, did not identify the companies raided.

AP Moller-Maersk, which owns the world's biggest container shipping company Maersk Line, said its practices were in compliance with EU competition legislation and it would cooperate fully with the Commission to investigate the matter.

"We can confirm that today the European Commission carried out an unannounced inspection in our offices," Christian Kledal, head of AP Moller-Maersk's legal department, said in a statement.

The Commission's purpose was to ascertain whether there was evidence of any infringement of European competition law related to liner shipping, Kledal said.

"The Commission has stated that it is interested in possible coordination of prices and/or liner transport capacity to and from the EU or the EEA," Kledal said.

Maersk did not say which other liner shipping companies were under suspicion of cooperating with it.

"Furthermore, the EU Commission is investigating whether there is abuse of dominant position on the market," Kledal said.

The Commission's probe covers the period from 2008, when liner shipping conferences were banned, to the present, Maersk's spokesman Michael Storgaard said.