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Regulator accuses freight forwarders of price fixing

Thursday 2nd September 2010

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The Commerce Commission has filed proceedings in the High Court in Auckland against a number of multi-national freight forwarding companies alleging price collusion.

The charges relate to alleged agreements around the implementation of surcharges and fees on air freight forwarding services to and from New Zealand in order to control prices in the market, the commission said in a statement today.

The companies implicated form part of the Deutsche Bahn Group, which operates under the DB Schenker brand, and include BAX Group, Kuehne + Nagel International, Panalpina World Transport Holdings, EGL and Geologistics International.

"Agreements between competitors to fix, control or maintain prices distort the normal forces of competition and keep prices artificially high," said Kate Morrison, general manager of enforcement at the Commerce Commission.

"This not only harms downstream businesses, but also consumers who may pay higher prices as a result."

Two of the accused, EGL and Geologistics, have already reached a pre-court settle with the commission. Details of the settlement will only be available once they have been signed-off by the High Court.

Some of the alleged agreements appear to have been in place since 2001. Cartel investigations into this conduct are also continuing in Europe and the US.

In 2006 air freight forwarding services in and out of New Zealand generated $450 million in revenue.

The global freight forwarding industry has come under increased scrutiny this year, with European authorities charging a number of major players with anticompetitive practices.

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