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Maersk Line, Hapag-Lloyd Among Carriers Subpoenaed in Price-Fixing Probe

U.S. Justice Department investigators crashed a meeting of the world's 20 biggest container-shipping operators and gave subpoenas to top executives at several companies as part of a probe on price fixing, people with knowledge of the matter said.

Maersk Line, a unit of Danish conglomerate A.P. Moller Maersk A/S and the world's biggest container-shipping line, confirmed it was subpoenaed during the so-called Box Club meeting in San Francisco this month. Germany's Hapag-Lloyd AG also said it was handed a subpoena by Justice Department investigators.

The people familiar with the investigation said that many of the CEOs at the meeting were given subpoenas, while investigators went to the U.S. offices of other smaller operators.

The probe is the latest in a series of investigations by regulators around the world into possible price fixing as the largest ocean carriers have grouped into three major alliances, sharing port calls and vessels in an effort to save billions in annual operating costs. The alliances will begin operations in April and move about 90 percent of all cargo across the world’s major trade routes.

A Maersk Line spokesman said the subpoena didn't “set out any specific allegations.” Maersk and Hapag-Lloyd said they would cooperate fully with the U.S. authorities.

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Maersk Line, a unit of Danish conglomerate A.P. Moller Maersk A/S and the world's biggest container-shipping line, confirmed it was subpoenaed during the so-called Box Club meeting in San Francisco this month. Germany's Hapag-Lloyd AG also said it was handed a subpoena by Justice Department investigators.

The people familiar with the investigation said that many of the CEOs at the meeting were given subpoenas, while investigators went to the U.S. offices of other smaller operators.

The probe is the latest in a series of investigations by regulators around the world into possible price fixing as the largest ocean carriers have grouped into three major alliances, sharing port calls and vessels in an effort to save billions in annual operating costs. The alliances will begin operations in April and move about 90 percent of all cargo across the world’s major trade routes.

A Maersk Line spokesman said the subpoena didn't “set out any specific allegations.” Maersk and Hapag-Lloyd said they would cooperate fully with the U.S. authorities.

Read Full Article