Freight News, Sea

Commission fines car carrying lines for cartel activities

[ February 21, 2018   //   ]

The European Commission has fined five car carrying shipping lines €395 million for taking part in cartels and breaking EU antitrust rules. It found that CSAV, “K” Line, MOL, NYK and WWL-EUKOR participated in a cartel for the intercontinental maritime transport of vehicles.

It was part of a wider action by the Commission that also targeted the supply of car parts.

All companies acknowledged their involvement in the cartels and agreed to settle the cases, said the Commission.

Commissioner Margrethe Vestager, in charge of competition policy said: “The Commission has sanctioned several companies for colluding in the maritime transport of cars and the supply of car parts. The three separate decisions taken today show that we will not tolerate anticompetitive behaviour affecting European consumers and industries. By raising component prices or transport costs for cars, the cartels ultimately hurt European consumers and adversely impacted the competitiveness of the European automotive sector, which employs around 12 million people in the EU.”

The Commission said that for almost six years, from October 2006 to September 2012, the five carriers formed a cartel in the market for deep sea transport of new cars, trucks and other large vehicles such as combine harvesters and tractors, on various routes between Europe and other continents.

The Commission’s investigation revealed that carriers’ sales managers met at each other’s offices, in bars, restaurants or other social gatherings and were in contact over the phone on a regular basis. In particular, they coordinated prices, allocated customers and exchanged commercially sensitive information about elements of the price, such as charges and currency and fuel surcharges.

It said that the carriers agreed to maintain the status quo in the market and to respect each other’s traditional business on certain routes or with certain customers, by quoting artificially high prices or not quoting at all in tenders issued by vehicle manufacturers.

It added that the carriers concerned accounted for almost half the European motor vehicle shipping market.

MOL however received full immunity for revealing the existence of the cartel, avoiding a fine of about €203 million. The Commission also reduced CSAV’s fine by 20%, to take into account its lesser involvement in the infringement. The other lines also gained 10% reductions for their cooperation with the Commission.

Ultimately, NYK was fine €141.8m, K Line €39.1m, WWL-Eukor €207.3m and CSAV €7.0m.



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