Container Lines Cleared in U.S. Anti-Trust Investigation

file photo
file photo

Published Feb 26, 2019 4:27 PM by The Maritime Executive

Maersk, MSC and Hapag-Lloyd have been cleared by the U.S. Department of Justice after an investigation that started in 2017 after two shipping alliances became operational. 

"Hapag-Lloyd was informed that the U.S. Department of Justice Antitrust Division is closing its investigation without charges against the company, its affiliates or any other current or former employees," said a company spokesperson late on Tuesday. This followed similar statements from the other companies earlier in the day.
“This is an important decision where the global container shipping industry has, once again, been fully investigated and exonerated,” said MSC in its statement.

In March 2017, executives of Maersk, Hapag Lloyd, Evergreen, and Orient Overseas Container Line (OOCL) were subpoenaed to testify as part of the investigation. The FBI served the subpoenas while the executives attended a meeting of the International Council of Containership Operators in San Francisco.

The U.S. Federal Maritime Commission had approved the formation and operation of THE Alliance and Ocean Alliance, but there were concerns about anti-competitive behavior. Members of the two groups included 11 of the world’s largest container shipping lines controlling about 45 percent of the global business. In a letter to the Commission, the Department of Justice Antitrust Division said that “the proposed alliance consolidation raises serious competitive concerns” as the collaboration “contemplates such close cooperation among its members that competition among them will be largely eliminated.”