On November 11, 2016, the owners of Stavanger-based Nor Lines annourced that they had decided to sell the company to Eimskip, the Islandic shipping line. Both companies offer transport of frozen fish by sea. In Northern Norway they share this market.
To ensure that there is sufficient competition in all sectors in Norway is among the tasks of the Norwegian Competition Authority and the Nor Line acquisition must be approved by this authority.
Fearing reduced competition
Last week the Competition Authority gave an indication of their verdict.
The Authority considers that the companies are close competitors and they have alerted Eimskip and Nor Lines that they may decide to block the acquisition.
Excessive market power?
- What worries the Competition Authority in this case?
- We are concerned that quality and competition will reduced for frozen fish. Both Eimskip and Nor Lines are major players, and the acquisition will give the merged company too much market power, says Falkanger of the Competition Authority to us in a telephone interview.
- There are other shipping lines and sea transport is always competiting with trucks ..., Shortsea Promotion suggests.
- Not in northern Norway. In southern Norway there are several players, but not in the north. A new company based on the two shipping companies will be major player in fish transport market from northern Norway, says Falkanger.
- The Competition Authority has now signaled Eimskip and Nor Lines that we will block the acquisition. What can the shipping lines do now, we ask.
- We have announced our decision and justification to Eimskip and Nor Lines. We have asked the shipping companies to present their objections. They have 15 working days, ie three work weeks to present their views. Then, the Authority has three weeks to make a final decision, she answers - and continues:
- Our decision can then be appealed. There is now a new set of rules. Previously the appeal went to the Ministry of Industry and Fisheries. Now there is an independant Appeal Board, which treats such matters. If the Appeal Board votes against acquistion, the case may be be appealed to the Court of Justice and later to the Supreme Court. The Appeals Board's treatment of the case replaces the District Court.
In other words - the final decision, before taking it through legal courts, will be released around late March / April.
The Nor Line services can be seen on ShortseaSchedules map below.