EC investigating feeder lay-up scheme
The European Commission said Friday it has opened a formal antitrust investigation concerning the “Baltic Max Feeder” scheme over a potential breach of EU rules on restrictive business practices.
The EC said it was concerned that the scheme, whereby European ship owners collectively agree to cover the costs of laying up feeder vessels and removing them from service, “may be aimed at reducing capacity and therefore at pushing up charter rates for such vessels.”
It noted, “opening antitrust proceedings does not mean that the commission has conclusive proof of an infringement. It only signifies that the commission will conduct an in-depth investigation.”
Feeder vessels are smaller containerships used to move containers between smaller regional ports and large container ports such as Hamburg or Rotterdam, which are served by large deep-sea containerships.
The EC said the Baltic Max Feeder” scheme has been elaborated and promoted by Anchor Steuerberatungsgesellschaft mbH, a German tax advisor, as a response to the current overcapacity of feeder container vessels, which has brought charter rates down.