December 19, 2018 / 1:47 PM / 8 months ago

Indian court refuses to quash antitrust probe at Mumbai port - sources

NEW DELHI (Reuters) - An Indian court has declined to quash or stall an antitrust investigation into Dubai-based port operator DP World’s alleged anti-competitive behavior at the country’s largest container port in Mumbai, three sources told Reuters on Wednesday.

FILE PHOTO: Fishing trawlers are seen in front of the Jawaharlal Nehru Port Trust (JNPT) in Mumbai, India, July 31, 2015. REUTERS/Shailesh Andrade/File Photo

The Competition Commission of India (CCI) last month said it suspected antitrust violations by DP World and Denmark’s A.P. Moller-Maersk at the terminals they operate at state-owned Jawaharlal Nehru Port Trust (JNPT).

The CCI’s probe followed a complaint by Singapore’s PSA International Pte Ltd, which alleged that Maersk and DP World businesses created barriers to hinder the growth of PSA’s terminal by colluding on certain charges they levy at JNPT.

DP World’s unit Nhava Sheva International Container Terminal approached a High Court in Mumbai last week seeking to quash the CCI probe, which it said was “arbitrary” and “lead to gross discrimination and grave economic harm”.

“Since there is no stay, CCI will continue with the investigation,” one of the sources said.

The court, which has not yet made its ruling public, will however continue to hear arguments on DP World’s plea in January, the sources said, referring to the court’s decision on Tuesday.

A.P. Moller-Maersk, the world’s biggest container shipping group, declined to comment on the case but said it “conducts its business in accordance with the applicable laws and regulations”.

PSA also declined to comment on the probe but said it believes in maintaining the highest levels of compliance to local laws.

A spokesperson for DP World in India did not immediately respond to an email seeking comment.

Handling 66 million tonnes of cargo in the last fiscal year to March, JNPT is critical to India’s international trade and handles over half the traffic of shipping containers each year.

Units of Maersk, DP World and PSA operate four of the port’s five terminals, with the fifth owned by the government.

Additional reporting and writing by Aditi Shah; Editing by Jan Harvey

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