Maritime transport: the Italian Antitrust Authority opens an investigation against three companies for abuse of dominant position

Following different complaints lodged in January and February 2016, the Italian Antitrust Authority (“IAA”) has decided to open an investigation concerning Compagnia Italiana di Navigazione S.p.A. (“CIN”), Moby S.p.A. (“Moby”) and Onorato Armatori S.p.A., the latter being the holding company of the former two, to evaluate the their alleged abuse of a dominant position in the market for maritime carriage of goods from and to Sardinia.

Two logistics companies complained to IAA that both CIN and Moby had refused for no reason to board their vehicles and terminated their commercial agreements without grounds. Complainants believe that the discriminatory behavior of CIN and Moby follows their decision to re-allocate a relevant share of their maritime freight business to Grimaldi Euromed S.p.A., a new competitor on routes from and to Sardinia previously only operated by CIN and Moby. Complainants also claim that CIN has violated the Convention signed with the Republic of Italy pursuant to which it has a public service obligation to guarantee, in the transport sector, territorial continuity between mainland Italy, major islands (Sicily and Sardinia) and minor islands.

In IAA’s view, the complained behaviors should be assessed under Article 102 of the Treaty on the Functioning of the European Union, since they appear to be capable of undermining the internal market. For these reasons IAA has decided to open an investigation, and granted interested parties 60 days to apply to be heard.

This investigation shall be completed no later than 30 April 2017.