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Norwegian car carrier earmarks more money for protracted cartel case

Norway's Wallenius Wilhelmsen has earmarked more money for a protracted cartel case, which the company has been involved in. The company has altogether made provisions for USD 715 million related to the case.

Photo: PR / Port of Gothenburg

Norwegian car carrier Wallenius Wilhelmsen has earmarked more money for a protracted cartel case that has lasted for years.

Wallenius Wilhelmsen most recently increased its provisions for the case by USD 55 million, according to the interim report. This happens because of "updated estimates of customer claims related to the antitrust case," writes the company.

We have two remaining jurisdictions left which are well known and we expect to have them closed by the end of this year"

Craig Jasienski, CEO, Wallenius Wilhelmsen

Wallenius Wilhelmsen and a series of other car carriers have been investigated for cartel activities in an anti-trust case in several countries. At a teleconference after publication of the report, CEO Craig Jasienski said that a ruling had just been made in Chile, which is one of the countries investigating the matter.

Here the shipping company expects to receive a fine in the coming weeks, and according to the CEO, the size of the fine will be within the scope of the provisions.

"So that now removes Chile from the cases. We have two remaining jurisdictions left which are well known and we expect to have them closed by the end of this year," said Jasienski at the teleconference.

In addition to Chile, Jasienski has previously told ShippingWatch that Wallenius Wilhelmsen had cases being processed with authorities in Australia and Peru.

In Australia, the shipping company has pleaded guilty, and a verdict is expected to be issued at a later date, said the Australian Consumer and Competition Commission, ACCC, in June.

The latest provisions mean that the cartel case for Wallenius Wilhelmsen has at this point resulted on provisions totaling USD 715 million, the company confirms to ShippingWatch.

Of these, USD 469 million have been paid, while the company's remaining provisions per June 30 stood at USD 246 million, earmarked to cover expected payments related to the ongoing cases and potential civil claims.

Protracted case

The protracted cartel case began in 2012 when authorities in the US, Japan and EU launched investigations against a series of car carriers for having over a period of years coordinated freight prices and divided customers amongst themselves. This has since resulted in fines for Wallenius Wilhelmsen, CSAV, NYK Line and MOL.

For the involved car carriers, the cartel case has triggered fines in countries such as the US, Australia, South Africa, Brazil, Peru, Chile, Mexico, China and South Korea. In the EU, a settlement was reached in 2018 in which three carriers, including Wallenius Wilhelmsen, received fines totaling EUR 400 million.

The interim report from Wallenius Wilhelmsen showed that the company's earnings dropped 40 percent in the second quarter, compared to the year before. The carrier has therefore worked to adjust capacity and reduce costs.

English Edit: Daniel Logan Berg-Munch

Wallenius Wilhemsen pleads guilty to cartel formation in Australia 

Car carriers hit with class action suit in cartel case 

Cartel case has cost car carriers at least a billion dollars 

Wallenius Wilhelmsen's earnings plunge 40 percent 

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