Tuesday, November 4, 2014

Intermodal Freight Operators Accused of Collusion and Punishing Rail Cargo Carriers

Another Antitrust Case Looms as History Repeats Itself Yet Again
Shipping News Feature

SPAIN – The Spanish trade authority, the National Commission of Markets and Competition (CNMC), has opened an investigation into state-owned train operator Renfe, including two of its subsidiaries, and European intermodal operator Transfesa, along with four of its subsidiaries, over allegations of collusion and an abuse of a dominant position, following a complaint by the Association of Private Railway Operators (AEFP) accusing the groups of entering into a pact to limit competition in the rail freight industry to the detriment of its members.

Citing ‘reasonable grounds’ for exploring anti-competitive behaviour CNMC will be investigating whether Renfe and its two subsidiaries, Renfe Freight and Renfe Railway Equipment Rental, abused their dominant position by imposing discriminatory commercial conditions on other rail operators, relating to the supply of traction services or train car rentals.

The CNMC also suspects that Renfe colluded with Transfesa, and four of its subsidiaries, Transfesa Rail, Pool Ibérico Ferroviario, Hispanauto Empresas Agrupadas and Semat, conspiring to divide the market, specifically for cars and automotive spare parts. Renfe and French operator SNCF both hold a minority stake in Transfesa whilst DB Schenker is the majority shareholder in the company Deutsche Bahn having taken a 55.1% stake in 2008. The German group of course been both sinned against and sinning as regards antitrust litigation in the past few years.

There will now be a period of eighteen months to officially investigate the possible existence of anti-competitive conduct that will conclude with a decision taken by the CNMC. If the administrative body considers that any of the companies are guilty of anti-competitive practices, the guilty firms could face fines of up to 10% of annual turnover in the year preceding the fine.