European Commission Approves Merger Between CMA CGM and NOL
The European Commission has cleared the proposed acquisition of Singapore’s Neptune Oriental Lines (NOL) by CMA CGM, a French shipping company.
The clearance is conditional upon NOL leaving the G6 liner shipping alliance.
The commission’s investigation found that the transaction leads to the combination of two competitors in the container liner shipping business. Both carriers offer their services mainly through consortia with other shipping companies known as alliances. CMA CGM is a member of the Ocean Three Alliance and NOL is currently a member of G6. NOL is parent company of container carrier APL.
The commission found that the merger would have created new links between previously unconnected carriers in the Ocean Three and G6 alliances. The commission had concerns that these potential new links would have resulted in anti-competitive effects on trade routes between Northern Europe and North America, and between Northern Europe and the Middle East.
“On these routes, competition from liner shippers who have no connection with the merged entity or its alliance partners would have been insufficient,” the EC concluded. “As a result, the transaction could have enabled the merged entity, through the consortia that the two companies belong to, to influence capacity and therefore prices to the detriment of shippers.”
“Container liner shipping plays a central role in global trade, so competition in this sector is essential for businesses and consumers in the EU,” said Margrethe Vestager, commissioner in charge of competition policy. “Today’s decision ensures that the takeover will not lead to price increases for the many EU companies using these container shipping services.”
Although CMA CGM had previously stated publicly that it intended to remove NOL from the G6 alliance, the formal commitment to do so was necessary to remove the risk of anti-competitive effects on the two trade routes.
Although NOL will continue to operate for G6 until March 31, 2017 to guarantee an orderly exit, the commitments foresee that a trustee will ensure that no anti-competitive information is shared between the alliance and the merged entity during that remaining period. This will eliminate the potential additional links between previously unrelated consortia that the merger would have created on the two routes.