Will EU’s competition rules or other regulatory bodies stop the three giants in the trade forming P3?
This could well happen, but the forming of a part-owned operations entity – reportedly to be based in London – that will merge the operational matters of the three, is a step in the right direction.
That will make it possible for P3 (within the new entity) to discuss certain service amendments, but still under the surveillance of the EU, if such amendments should result in prohibited pricing matters.
There is a ‘grey zone’ difficult to circumvent. To completely clear the path towards the EU and to make P3 able to lower its costs, would indeed be to also merge the commercial activities, which I have advocated several times (Euro-Asia Container Line) and I noticed that others in the story are of about the same opinion.
I opine such full-scale cooperation should really benefit the three, since they should operate under one entity, and they could freely operate with common freight tariffs.
There is huge operational cost-savings in having one entity, taking care of not only vessel/space sharing but also sales/marketing instead of a three-folded organization. The same goes for costs for abroad agents/offices where huge savings are waiting.
Such an organisation would put the three part-owners in the driver’s seat and leave the competition (from 15 other players, more or less alliance-tied) far behind and EU, ESC and others would be pacified.
The possibility to finally achieve stability in the Asia-Europe trade is obvious.
The three Japanese carriers have studied such (total) merger some years ago, but were obviously not ready to take the step. They might be forced to next year to stay in the trade!