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Brussels approved Maersk Line’s purchase of Hamburg Süd (HSDG) on Monday after it promised to withdraw from five trading routes, in a deal that will shore up its position as the world’s largest container shipping group.

Margrethe Vestager, European competition commissioner, said “The commitments offered by Maersk Line and HSDG will maintain a healthy level of competition to the benefit of the very many EU companies that depend on these container shipping services.”

HSDG is the ninth largest container shipping company globally, Maersk is the biggest. The shippers cooperate with other companies to form alliances for specific routes which share vessels and together set capacity, schedules and ports of call.

European regulators worried the deal would leave insufficient competition on five specific trade routes. To mitigate those concerns, Maersk has promised Hamburg Sud will withdraw from five alliances. The routes are out of northern Europe to Central America/Caribbean, West Coast South America, and the Middle East, and routes from the Mediterranean to West Coast and East Coast of South America

HSDG will continue as part of the five alliances during the contractual notice period, which will be overseen by a monitoring trustee.

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