China Fines Shipping Firms $63 Million for Price Collusion

Updated on
  • Nippon Yusen, Mitsui OSK, Kawasaki Kisen among those indicted
  • Move follows similar investigations in Europe and Japan

China fined eight shipping lines 407 million yuan ($63 million) in total after finding them responsible for price collusion in the transportation of vehicles and heavy machinery.

Japan’s Nippon Yusen KK, Mitsui OSK lines, Kawasaki Kisen Kaisha and Eastern Car Liner Ltd., Korea’s Eukor Car Carriers Inc., Norway’s Wallenius Wilhelmsen Logistics AS, Chile’s Cia. Sud Americana de Vapores SA and its shipping line were the eight indicted after a year-long investigation, the National Development and Reform Commission said in a statement on its website Monday. The companies acknowledge wrongdoing, the top Chinese economic planning agency said.

The probe follows similar investigations by the European Union in 2013 and Japan’s Fair Trade Commission. Japanese regulators raided the offices of five shipping lines in 2013 over allegations they discussed raising rates together for transporting cars, and imposed fines on Nippon Yusen and Kawasaki Kisen in January 2014. AP Moeller-Maersk A/S, CMA CGM SA and MSC Mediterranean Shipping Co. were among companies in the European Union probe.

Companies’ Actions

Eukor will accept the Chinese decision and pay a fine of 284.7 million yuan, the company said in a statement on its website. The company also has implemented a competition law compliance program and corrective measures including antitrust compliance training, it said.

Eastern Car Liner "will execute what was directed immediately," said Yoshihisa Inmasu, the general manager of its general affairs department. The company will undertake stricter and more detailed legal compliance measures. Kawasaki Kisen is restructuring to carry out compliance, said spokesman Masaya Futakuchi.

Nippon Yusen has fully cooperated with the investigation by the Chinese agency and consequently received an immunity from the fine, the Japanese company said in a statement. A Mitsui OSK spokesman declined to comment.

Calls to the Shanghai and Hong Kong offices of CSAV group and Wallenius’s Asia Pacific media representative Bianca Himmelsbach weren’t immediately answered. Rainer Horne, a spokesman for Hapag-Lloyd AG, didn’t immediately respond to an e-mail sent outside regular German business hours. Hapag-Lloyd agreed last year to buy most of CSAV’s assets and become the fourth-largest container shipping company in the world.

The China investigation focused on Mitsui OSK, Kawasaki Kisen and Nippon Yusen because they controlled the bulk of the Chinese market, Bloomberg News reported in July, citing a person familiar with the matter. The person asked not to be identified because the investigation hadn’t been made public then.

In the European investigation, the EU drafted a possible deal with the companies that would spare them any immediate fines, people familiar with the case said.

— With assistance by Clement Tan

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