On 7 November 2017 MOFCOM conditionally cleared the proposed acquisition by Maersk Line A/S of Hamburg Süd after a review period of around six months. MOFCOM concluded that the transaction would weaken competition in both general and refrigerated container shipping transportation on the Far East – South America West Coast (SAWC) and Far East – South America East Coast (SAEC) routes. On the Far East – SAWC route, Maersk and the members of the vessel sharing agreements (VSAs) ASPA 1, 2, 3 would have a combined 70-75 per cent volume share of both general and refrigerated container transportation. On the Far East – SAEC route, Maersk and the members of the VSA Asia 2 would have a combined 55-60 per cent and 60-65 per cent volume share of general and refrigerated container transportation respectively.

The clearance is subject to the following commitments to remedy MOFCOM’s concerns: (i) Hamburg Süd must withdraw from the VSAs ASPA 1, 2, 3 on the Far East – SAWC route upon the expiration of the relevant VSAs; (ii) Hamburg Süd must withdraw from the VSA Asia 2 on the Far East – SAEC route; (iii) Maersk and Hamburg Süd must not join any VSAs or shipping alliances with other major rivals on routes between the Far East and SAWC or SAEC for five years from closing the deal; and (iv) Maersk must reduce its refrigerated container shipping transportation capacity on the Far East – SAEC route to 34-39 per cent, and maintain that share for three years.

The proposed acquisition was conditionally cleared in the EU earlier this year in April, as a result of which Maersk had to give similar commitments in relation to its membership of the VSAs and shipping alliances. The deal remains subject to clearance from the Korean Fair Trade Commission.