Stolt-Nielsen: No merit to Dow lawsuit

Stolt-Nielsen: No merit to Dow lawsuit

Stolt-Nielsen, the largest tanker operator in the world, on Tuesday disputed claims of price-fixing in a lawsuit brought against it and three other tanker companies by Dow Chemical and said it would fight it.

"The company believes the Dow Chemical claims are without merit will vigorously defend itself against those claims," Stolt-Nielsen SA said in a statement.

Dow Chemical sued Stolt-Nielsen of Oslo, rival Norwegian shipper Odfjell ASA, Jo Tankers of the Netherlands and Mitsui O.S.K Line Group's Tokyo Marine Co. of Japan, claiming that they stifled competition by fixing prices and rigging bids.

Dow, the biggest U.S. chemical maker, has claimed the vessel operators had talks as early as 1998 and until at least November 2002 to fix prices of shipping services to and from the United States and elsewhere, Dow Jones said U.S. court documents showed this week.

Stolt-Nielsen said that business relations between customers and its chemical tanker arm, Stolt-Nielsen Transportation Group B.V., are governed by contracts containing arbitration clauses and it would ask courts to compel arbitration.

Stolt-Nielsen and other tanker companies are the target of ongoing anti-trust investigations in the U.S. and Europe.