Wednesday, February 9, 2011

RoRo Freight Ferry Deal Subject To Investigation

Stena and DFDS Deal Referred to Competition Commission
Shipping News Feature

UK – IRELAND – Authorities in both Britain and Ireland are investigating the recent agreements between DFDS and Stena Line on the Irish Sea routes which we documented here previously. The purchase of the Birkenhead and Heysham to Belfast routes by Stena was completed in December, just five months after DFDS took over Norfolkline. The routes are an essential part of freight links to Northern Ireland and beyond.

Subsequently DFDS pulled out of the Dublin routes and Stena announced the closure of their Fleetwood to Larne operations which is what first interested the Office of Fair Trading (OFT) despite protestations from Stena that the events were unconnected. The OFT had to consider if the closure would have occurred if the previous mergers had not taken place.

Having considered the matter the OFT have now referred it to the UK Competition Commission saying the lessening of competition due to the merging of services may have influenced the closure of the Larne to Fleetwood service. The Irish Competition Authority are conducting their own enquiry into the affair and results of the UK investigation are expected to be published in four to five months.