Beijing rejected an alliance of the world’s top three shipping groups even after it has been approved by regulators in the United States and the European Union, media reports said Wednesday.
The three container-shipping giants — Maersk from Denmark, Mediterranean Shipping Company (MSC) from Switzerland and CMA CGM from France — planned to establish the P3 network to cut costs by sharing ships and port facilities.
But China’s Ministry of Commerce on Tuesday rejected the tie-up “due to monopoly concerns”. The network would allow the three partners to grab 40 percent of all cargo capacity on three main trade routes, including Asia to Europe, trans-Pacific and trans-Atlantic, the reports said.
The alliance would also help accelerate consolidation in the shipping sector that has been battered by overcapacity and low rates for years.
The P3 network, which was scheduled to begin operating later this year, obtained approvals from the US Federal Maritime Commission in March and the EU competition authorities earlier this month.
However, three companies will be forced to give up the ambitious plan following Beijing’s rejection.
Maersk said in a statement: “The Ministry of Commerce (MOFCOM) of the People’s Republic of China announced that they have not approved the P3 Network. The MOFCOM’s decision follows a review under China’s merger control rules.”
Beijing has seemingly taken a tougher antitrust stance in recent years. For example, it has forced the mining giant Glencore to sell off its Las Bambas copper project in Peru before giving the go-ahead to its merger with Xstrata.
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