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Singapore Competition Commission approves merger between shipping companies

The Competition Commission of Singapore (CCS) has approved a joint venture between Japanese shipping companies Nippon Yusen Kabushiki Kaisha, Mitsui OSK Lines, and Kawasaki Kisen Kaisha.27 Mar 2017

The three companies will combine their container liner shipping businesses and container terminal services businesses outside Japan. Only the container liner shipping merger will affect Singapore, the CCS said.

After a public consultation and feedback from vessel operating common carriers, non-vessel operating common carriers, and beneficial cargo owners, the CCS concluded that the merger will not infringe Singapore's Competition Act.

The companies' combined market shares are not high enough to raise competition concerns in any of the relevant markets, it said, and barriers to entry are not prohibitively high because new entrants do not need their own vessels but could charter slots on other vessels.

Overcapacity in the industry means that container lines are able to include Singapore as a port of call without incurring substantial cost, it said.

Although it is unlikely that customers can supply their own container liner shipping services, a significant number of customers including freight forwarders and beneficial cargo owners do have bargaining power through their procurement processes, the CCS said.

The information available does not suggest that the companies are closer competitors to each other than against other players, it said, and the merger is unlikely to increase anti-competitive coordination given the large number of liners and low market concentration.

The companies also provide logistics services, bulk shipping, car transport, and liquid transport, through subsidiaries but they will continue to conduct these services separately and independently from each other and the joint venture, the CCS said.