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German competition regulator Bundeskartellamt clears planned acquisition of Deutsche Binnenreederei by Rhenus

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German competition regulator Bundeskartellamt clears planned acquisition of Deutsche Binnenreederei by Rhenus

July 14, 2020 - 08:26
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BONN, Germany, July 13, 2020 (Press Release) -The Bundeskartellamt has cleared the planned acquisition of Deutsche Binnenreederei AG, Berlin, by Rhenus SE & Co. KG, Holzwickede. The main business of Deutsche Binnenreederei is the transport of goods by inland waterway vessel, especially on the waterways of Northern and Eastern Germany. Rhenus, a subsidiary of the Rethmann group, offers manifold logistics services and for this purpose also operates a fleet of inland waterway vessels, clearly focusing on the river Rhine, however.

Andreas Mundt, President of the Bundeskartellamt: “Despite the strong market position of the parties involved, the planned merger is no cause for considerable competition concerns, neither in the inland waterway transport sector nor in the downstream logistics markets. The investigations have shown that the market for inland waterway transport in Northern and Eastern Germany is characterised by overcapacities. Among other things, this is due to the declining demand for shipping space caused by the phase-out of fossil fuels, for example. To a limited extent, alternative means of transport such as trains and trucks are also available to shippers. In recent years, a gradual shift from transport by water to transport by rail has become apparent.”

When assessing the planned merger, it also had to be taken into account that the European Commission almost simultaneously reviewed the acquisition of the Imperial Shipping Group by Häfen und Güterverkehr Köln AG, which was cleared at the end of June. Like Rhenus, the Imperial Shipping Group transports goods by inland waterway vessels, predominantly on the river Rhine. The investigations carried out by the Bundeskartellamt suggest that the Rhine area and the waterways in Northern and Eastern Germany are two separate market areas. The inland waterway vessels used in each area differ in terms of size so that it is either not possible or not economical to use the vessels in the respective other area.

Since the review period has been extended by law due to the COVID-19 pandemic, it was possible to clear the planned merger within the first review phase despite the considerable investigations that had to be carried out.