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ACM clears acquisition of container terminal of APM Terminals by ECT’s parent company

The Netherlands Authority for Consumer and Markets (ACM) has cleared Hutchison Ports Netherlands, parent company of container terminal operator ECT, to acquire container terminal APM Terminals Rotterdam. ACM does not anticipate the acquisition having any significant effects on competition. After the acquisition, sufficient competition will remain on the market for the handling of containers carried by deep-sea container ships.

Martijn Snoep, Chairman of the Board of ACM, adds: “Container handling is a cornerstone of the Port of Rotterdam. After the acquisition, sufficient competition will remain in this sector between the three active terminal-services companies in the Port of Rotterdam. And that competition will be stimulated further by the strong position of large shipping companies. Competition results in competitive prices, high-quality service, and innovation. The acquisition will only lead to a small change in the competitive landscape.”

Container handling in the Port of Rotterdam

As a result of the acquisition, APM Terminals Rotterdam will become a part of the group to which ECT also belongs. ECT owns the ECT Delta terminal and the ECT Euromax terminal. After the sale of this container terminal, APM Terminals will remain active in the Port of Rotterdam, as it also owns a terminal on Maasvlakte 2. The third terminal-services company in the Port of Rotterdam is Rotterdam World Gateway, which owns a large container terminal on Maasvlakte 2.

Market share to increase slightly 

In its investigation, ACM primarily looked at competition between terminal services for containers that are directly shipped to destinations elsewhere in Europe. Many containers are shipped from the Port of Rotterdam to destinations in, for example, Belgium, Germany, and France, either by trucks, trains, or barges. ACM’s investigation reveals that the market share of the group to which ECT belongs will increase only slightly as a result of the acquisition. That is why there are no significant consequences for competition.

Strong bargaining position of maritime shipping companies

Maritime shipping companies transport containers using their container ships. These maritime shipping companies are usually organized in alliances, and operate on a global scale. When transporting containers, they use multiple ports and container terminals operated by different companies. As a result, competition between container terminals in the Port of Rotterdam is and will remain fierce. And the companies also face competitive pressure exerted by other terminals in other ports.

Maritime shipping companies are positive about the acquisition, and expect it to result in additional capacity. The terminal-services companies, too, expect that the acquisition will intensify competition.

ACM’s concentration control: mergers, acquisitions, and joint ventures

With any merger, acquisition, or joint venture, there is a question of whether sufficient competition will remain on that market. Competition ensures that products are of high quality, and that they are offered on the market at competitive prices. It also promotes innovation. That is why ACM assesses in advance whether or not companies are allowed to merge or go through with an acquisition. ACM examines whether the markets involved will continue to work well for people and businesses after the merger or acquisition, now and in the future.

More in this case

16-06-2020 Hutchison Ports Netherlands wishes to acquire APM Terminals Rotterdam (concentration notification) (in Dutch)