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German bunkering service providers withdraw merger notification

Staff Writer |
The companies Reinplus VanWoerden Bunker, Mannheim and Nord- und Westdeutsche Bunker, Hamburg, have withdrawn their merger notification after the Bundeskartellamt had written to them expressing its competition concerns about the proposed merger.

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Reinplus and NWB provide so-called bunkering services. The term "bunkering services" is used in the shipping industry to describe the refuelling or bunkering of shipping vessels with fuel for their own propulsion.

The proposed merger concerned in particular the supply of inland waterway vessels with diesel fuel.

Due to the location of the inland waterway bunker stations or bunker boats of the two companies, there were overlaps in supply, especially in the German part of the Rhine, which accounts for a large part of the traffic and freight volume on the German inland waterways.

Andreas Mundt, president of the Bundeskartellamt: "Bunkering services in the German part of the Rhine are already only provided by three companies.

"The merger would have further reduced the number of competitors from three to two and Reinplus would have further expanded its already leading position in the market by acquiring a price active competitor in Cologne.

"We therefore informed the parties in writing of our concerns and announced that we were planning to prohibit the merger project."

After the proposed merger was notified, the Bundeskartellamt carried out extensive market investigations among the parties to the merger, their competitors and customers in the cargo shipping, passenger shipping and tourist navigation sectors.

The authority found that the merger would have led to the creation of by far the leading supplier of diesel fuel for inland waterway vessels on the German part of the Rhine with only one remaining major competitor.

In contrast to this competitor, Reinplus, as a company of the VARO group, is also vertically integrated in the upstream fuel trading markets.

Only little competitive pressure is exerted by other bunkering service providers located on the Netherlands part of the Rhine due to the inefficiency of detours.

With the merger, NWB as an important competitive force in the relevant region would have disappeared from the market.

Providers which supply inland waterway vessels onshore by means of tank trucks only offer an alternative for a limited customer group and not for every location.

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