EU to Approve Hapag-Lloyd, Vapores Deal with Conditions

Maritime Activity Reports, Inc.

September 5, 2014

Photo: Compania SudAmericana de Vapores

Photo: Compania SudAmericana de Vapores

European Union antitrust regulators will conditionally clear a deal by Hapag-Lloyd and Compania SudAmericana de Vapores to form the world's fourth-largest container shipping company, two people familiar with the matter said on Friday.

The case is important for the shipping industry where consolidation could help it to overcome the worst slump on record. And if regulators take a soft line on any concessions required to allow the deal to proceed this could spur more mergers in the industry.

EU approval hinges on the elimination of some overlapping routes between the consortia in which the companies are members. This would allay concerns that the deal could reduce competition, said the people who declined to be named because the EU decision is not yet public.

Hapag-Lloyd is a member of the G6 alliance whose other members include APL, Hyundai Merchant Marine, Mitsui O.S.K. Lines, Nippon Yusen Kaisha and Orient Overseas Container Line and which operates on Asia-Europe and Mediterranean trade routes.

Hapag-Lloyd, the world's No. 5 by capacity, is 22-percent owned by German travel group TUI AG. Vapores, majority-owned by the billionaire Luksic family, Chile's richest, is a member of another smaller group.

The European Commission is scheduled to decide on the merger by Sept. 11. Commission spokesman Antoine Colombani and Hapag-Lloyd declined to comment. Vapores also declined to comment. The companies secured the green light from U.S. authorities last month.

(Reporting by Foo Yun Chee. Editing by Jane Merriman)

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