Cartel fines for harbour towage providers

Germany's competition authority investigated alleged towage cartel practices (Bundeskartellamt) Germany's competition authority investigated alleged towage cartel practices (Bundeskartellamt)

The independent German competition authority, the Bundeskartellamt, has imposed fines amounting to approximately 13m Euros on three harbour towage service providers following an investigation into a cartel agreement.

The companies concerned are: Fairplay Schleppdampfdchiffreederei Richard Borchard GmbH, Hamburg; Bugsier Reederei und Bergungs GmbH & Co KG, Hamburg and Petersen & Alpers GmbH & Co, Hamburg. No fine was imposed on Unterweser Reederei GmbH which has also participated in the cartel agreement and its subsidiary Lütgens & Reimers GmbH & Co KG because they had reported the cartel to the Bundeskartellamt. For discretionary reasons no fine was imposed on Neue Schleppdampfschiffsreederei Louis Meyer GmbH & Co KG, which has since exited the market. Investigations into another company are still ongoing.

Andreas Mundt, President of the Bundeskartellamt stated: "Our investigations have shown that at least between 2002 and 2013 the harbour towage companies divided orders and turnover earned from several German harbours among themselves. The companies set quotas based on turnover which they used to allocate orders between them."

The quotas were set in 2000/2001 after Dutch harbour towage companies had started operating on the Elbe and Weser rivers. All the major towage companies in the respective harbours had participated in the quota allocation. As Dutch companies were also involved in the cartel, the Bundeskartellamt cooperated closely with the Netherlands Authority for Consumers and Markets in this case.

Fines are generally calculated according to the gravity and duration of the infringement. In this particular case, in addition to the small geographical market, the powerful position of the opposite market side, in particular the liner shipping companies, was taken into consideration in the companies' favour. In setting the fine the Bundeskartellamt also took into account that the three companies fined had cooperated with the authority within the scope of its leniency programme and had each concluded a settlement with the authority.

By Peter Barker

Latest Press Releases

Damen Shipyards Galati celebrates 125 years

Galati yard has delivered over 1,300 vessels during proud history Read more


Expanding its global presence, MyTaskit has signed its first international reseller. Auckland, New Z... Read more

Fred. Olsen Windcarrier Jack-up Brave Tern completes major crane refit at Damen Shiprepair Amsterdam

Brave Tern, the 132-metre jack-up operated by Fred. Olsen Windcarrier AS, has completed a major cran... Read more

Damen Marine Components to supply Chilean Navy for ANTARCTIC I project

Damen Marine Components has won a contract to supply steering gear, rudders and stern tube parts for... Read more

Damen Verolme Rotterdam wins refit contract for drilling rig Stena Don

Damen Verolme Rotterdam (DVR), one of Damen Shipyards Group’s most experienced yards in the repair a... Read more

Industry insights with Lloyd’s Maritime Academy:

INDUSTRY INSIGHTS WITH LLOYD’S MARITIME ACADEMY: What's next for the shipping industry? Read more

View all