German container shipping line Hapag-Lloyd and Kuwait-based United Arab Shipping Company (UASC) have submitted concessions aimed at securing EU antitrust approval for their billion-euro merger. The companies put in their offer on 28 October, according to a filing on the European Commission website on Monday. UASC is majority-owned by the government of Qatar.
The EU's competition body, which did not provide details, will now seek feedback from customers and rivals before deciding whether to accept the concessions, demand more or open a full investigation. It will decide on the next step by 23 November.
The merged company would be the fifth largest player globally in terms of carrier capacity, just behind COSCO Container Lines, with access to the important Asia to Europe trade route and trans-Atlantic and trans-Pacific routes.
The container shipping industry has seen a wave of consolidation in recent years as shippers try to tackle the worst slump for 50 years caused by overcapacity and weak global economic growth. In addition to mergers, companies are also seeking alliances to pool trips and save costs.