December 28, 2015 / 6:49 AM / 3 years ago

China fines seven shipping firms $63 million for price fixing

SHANGHAI (Reuters) - China has fined seven shipping companies, including Japan’s Kawasaki Kisen Kaisha (9107.T), a total of 407 million yuan (42.14 million pounds) for price-fixing, the country’s state economic planner said in a statement on Monday.

The National Development and Reform Commission (NDRC) said the companies colluded to raise rates on shipments of cars, trucks, and construction machinery across five shipping routes, including between China and Europe, for at least four years, violating the country’s anti-monopoly laws.

The other six companies fined were Japan’s Mitsui OSK Lines (9104.T) and Eastern Car Liner Ltd., South Korea’s Eukor Car Carriers [EUKOR.UL], Norway’s Wallenius Wilhelmsen Logistics AS, Chile’s Compania Sud Americana de Vapores VAPS.SN, and a separate shipping subsidiary within CSAV, the NDRC said.

The NDRC investigated Japan’s Nippon Yusen KK (9101.T) and found it violated China’s anti-monopoly law, according to a statement on Nippon Yusen’s website. Nippon said it fully cooperated with the probe and was granted immunity from any fine.

The NDRC imposed fines of four to nine percent of the companies’ 2014 revenues of their related China business.

Eukor received the biggest fine of 284 million yuan, the NDRC said. CSAV and its roll-on, roll-off shipping unit were fined the smallest amounts at 3.07 million yuan and 1.19 million yuan respectively.

Eukor said in a statement on its website that it accepted the NDRC’s decision and would implement a competition law programme. A media representative for Kawasaki Kisen Kaisha said the firm was taking the issue seriously and would strengthen its compliance activities.

Mitsui OSK Lines said on its website that it would develop preventive measures. Eastern Car Liner said in a post on its Twitter-like Weibo microblog that it would improve compliance policies.

Calls to the offices of Wallenius Wilhelmsen and CSAV were unanswered.

In October, a number of Asian container shipping lines voluntarily lowered shipping surcharges following an NDRC probe into excessive charges.

($1 = 6.4755 Chinese yuan renminbi)

Reporting by Brenda Goh; Editing by Christian Schmollinger

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