Brazil’s competition watchdog has cleared the acquisition of Hamburg Süd by Maersk, after the Danish carrier took steps to limit its market share in the country.

The Administrative Council for Economic Defense (CADE) said the deal gained a green light after Maersk sold its Brazilian cabotage subsidiary, Mercosul, to CMA CGM.

Maersk said the decision followed “changes in the VSA [vessel-sharing agreement] landscape which will take effect after closing the acquisition”.

Most important is the commitment by Maersk to the European Commission that once the acquisition is complete it will withdraw Hamburg Süd from the MESA consortium that operates between the Mediterranean and South America’s east coast.

Morten Toft, senior legal counsel at Maersk Line’s competition law team, said: “We are very pleased that the general superintendence’s in-depth analysis of the acquisition has led to a clearance decision which addresses all competition law aspects of the acquisition.

“The general superintendence conducted a thorough investigation and has scrutinised the relevant affected markets, including container liner shipping, terminals, towage and cabotage. Moreover, the general superintendence has separately assessed the impact of the acquisition on the VSA landscape in Brazil.”

Other carriers have now begun jockeying for position with a range of new VSAs.

“The process of obtaining regulatory approvals from all relevant jurisdictions remains on track. We will now continue the course of obtaining all regulatory approvals by the fourth quarter of 2017,” Mr Toft added.

The acquisition has so far been approved by competition authorities in the US, Australia, the EU, Mexico, Turkey, Japan, Ecuador and now Brazil.

Crucially, however, it has yet to win approval from China’s Ministry of Commerce, which famously scuppered plans by Maersk, MSC and CMA CGM to form the P3 alliance.

Hamburg Süd currently operates 16 north-south services into Asia.

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