The European Union closed an antitrust investigation into a German container feeder ship cooperative after its members agreed to abandon a compensation system for laying-up vessels and an information exchange scheme.
Regulators also ended their probe into a flanking cooperative for mini bulk carriers after it won similar concessions from its members.
The EU said it feared the lay-up compensation scheme operated by Container Feeder eG would give shipowners an incentive to withdraw capacity from the market in a bid to drive up vessel charter rates.
The information exchange system, providing charter rate recommendations to its members, could have led to the coordination of rates between rival shipowners that would also have resulted in higher charter rates, the EU said.
Following discussions with the European Commission, the EU’s executive, the container ship and the European Minibulk eG pool, agreed to withdraw both schemes.
“As a result, competition on the market will be maintained,” the commission said.
The cooperatives, for container ships up to 1,400 20-foot-equivalent units and bulk vessels up to 7,000 deadweight tons, were established in January 2012, consisting mainly of German shipowners as well as some Dutch shipping companies.
A similar container ship cooperative, the Baltic Max Feeder system, was abandoned in 2010 after the European Commission launched an antitrust investigation.
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