Fifteen container liner shipping companies "have offered to change their pricing practices to settle an EU antitrust probe and stave off possible fines," according to a report from Reuters Wednesday that cites two unnamed sources.
Container carriers have offered to publish binding actual rates a month before they go into effect, according to the report from.
The report said the European Commission would not confirm the development, but that it could change the practice of shipping companies announcing planned general rate increases.
World No. 1 container liner Maersk, MSC and 13 other peers have offered to publish actual prices rather than future rate increases to settle a two-year EU antitrust investigation.
The other companies are No. 3 player CMA CGM, Taiwan's Evergreen Marine, Germany's Hapag Lloyd, China Ocean Shipping
(Group) Company (COSCO), China Shipping , Hamburg Sud, South Korean firm Hanjin, OOCL (Orient Overseas Container Line), Japan's Mitsui OSK Lines (MOL) , United Arab Shipping Company, Nippon Yusen Kaisha , Hyundai Merchant Marine and Israeli peer Zim, the people said.
The European Commission opened an investigation into the world's 18 largest shipping companies in November 2013 following dawn raids in May 2011.
The lines are under investigation for their pricing policies, which the European Commission claims could have been illegally orchestrated by announcing rate hikes on their website – and through the specialised media.
Earlier, a report in FT said that Brussels has launched a regulatory assault on container shipping companies, with a formal antitrust probe into concerns that prices moved in harmony because groups signalled planned changes through public statements.
The European Commission investigation
centres on allegations of “concerted practices”, where companies’ prices are adjusted up or down at the same time without a formal agreement.
The launch of the probe comes more than two years after the commission raided at least four of the world’s biggest container shipping lines, indicating that one of the most serious regulatory inquiries ever launched into the industry is gathering momentum.