UPDATED 12:20 p.m. EST
Hapag-Lloyd and CMA CGM confirmed they are among ocean carriers whose offices were raided today, May 17, by European Union antitrust officials.
Earlier, Maersk Line said EU officials made an unannounced visit to its Copenhagen headquarters in a probe into suspected price and capacity fixing on services to and from European ports.
“The EU Commission is currently carrying out investigations with European shipping lines to see whether there have been violations of EU competition law since the abolition of the liner shipping conferences’ block exemption in October 2008,” Germany’s Hapag-Lloyd said in a statement. “We are convinced that we are in compliance with EU legislation,” the Hamburg-based carrier said.
French carrier CMA CGM confirmed EU officials visited its headquarters in Marseilles and said it is fully cooperating in the EU investigation.
9:30 a.m. EST
EST European Union antitrust officials raided the offices of leading ocean container carriers, including Maersk Line, today as part of an investigation into suspected price and capacity fixing in liner shipping.
The European Commission, the EU’s executive wing, said it “has reason to believe the companies concerned may have violated the antitrust rules that prohibit cartels and restrictive practices and/or abuse of a dominant market position.”
European Union raid news from JOC:
EU Trust Busters Raid Deutsche Bahn Offices.
The Commission, accompanied on the unannounced visits by national competition regulators, did not identify the companies involved.
But Maersk Line, the world’s biggest carrier, confirmed Commission officials had visited its headquarters in Copenhagen today.
“We can confirm that today the European Commission carried out an unannounced inspection in our offices,” the Danish company said.
“The Commission has stated that it is interested in possible coordination of prices and/or liner transport capacity to and from the EU and the European Economic Area,” Maersk said.
Maersk said its practices are in compliance with EU competition legislation and it would cooperate fully with the Commission to investigate the matter.
The Commission said unannounced inspections are a preliminary step into suspected anti-competitive practices.
The Commission said the fact it carries out inspections does not mean a company has engaged in anti-competitive behavior nor does it prejudge the outcome of the investigation itself.
The EU outlawed price-setting liner conferences in October 2008.
-- Contact Bruce Barnard at email@example.com.