On Monday 10 April 2017, the Commission announced that it had approved Maersk Line's takeover of HSDG after an extended case handling time of ten days.
Maersk Line and HSDG are both major players on the global container market, Maersk Line being the largest container shipping company and HSDG the ninth largest. The Commission was therefore concerned about the merger. The approval came after Maersk Line's proposal to cancel HSDG's participation in five consortiums concerning trade routes:
- Northern Europe and Central America/the Caribbean
- Northern Europe and the South American west coast
- Northern Europe and the Middle East
- The Mediterranean and the South American west coast
- The Mediterranean and the South American east coast
THE COMMISSION'S HESITATIONS
The Commission investigated the container transportation market concerning 17 trade routes between Europe and the other continents. The Commission found that there was a possibility that the merger could result in distorting competition as Maersk Line could affect competitive parameters on a substantial part of the market through its participation in the above five consortiums. The proposal to cancel HSDG's participation in these five consortiums therefore met the Commission's hesitations.
ONE OF MORE MERGERS WITH THE EU
The approval of the merger follows several mergers within the EU which have been conditional on the shipping companies' resignation from consortiums. Back in November, the Commission thus approved Hapaq-Lloyd's takeover of United Arab Shipping Company on the condition that the company resigned from a consortium operating on the trade route between Northern Europe and North America. In 2016, the Commission also approved CMA CGM's purchase of Neptune Oriental Lines on the condition that Neptune Oriental Lines resigned from the G6 alliance.