China blocks alliance of world's biggest shippers

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COPENHAGEN, Denmark (AP) — A plan by the world's three biggest container shipping operators to create an alliance has been scrapped after Chinese authorities blocked it.

Vincent Clerc, chief trade and marketing officer at Denmark's A.P. Moller-Maersk, said Tuesday that the rejection by China — which like other major economies was reviewing the merger's potential impact on the market — came as a surprise. U.S. and European regulators had previously cleared the deal.

As a result, the alliance of Maersk, MSC Mediterranean Shipping Company S.A. and CMA CGM of France, "as initially planned will not come into existence," Clerc said.

The proposed alliance, first proposed in June last year, was to be an independently operated network with 255 vessels and was set to start operations in late 2014. The alliance was to operate a capacity of 2.6 million containers between Asia and Europe, across the Pacific Ocean and the Atlantic Ocean.

It was intended to be an operational, not a commercial, cooperation, Maersk said. Each company would have continued to have fully independent sales, marketing and customer service functions.

The decision to abandon the alliance will have no material impact on the Maersk Group's expected result for 2014, the company said.

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