South Africa's competition watchdog has recommended Japanese shipping firm Nippon Yusen Kabushiki Kaisha Ltd (NYK) pay a 104 million rand ($8.5 million) penalty for price-fixing and collusion in the transport of cars.

The Competition Commission said on Tuesday NYK had admitted guilt and agreed to pay the fine after an investigation into collusion involving several shipping firms. The settlement followed the commission’s investigation into the activities of the shipping companies:

Mitsui O.S.K Lines;
Kawasaki Kisen Kaisha;
Compania Sud Americana de Vapores;
Hoegh Autoliners Holdings;
Wallenius Wilhelmsen Logistics;
Eukor Car Carriers;
and NYK.

"The Commission found that NYK colluded on 14 tenders with its competitors for the transportation of motor vehicles by sea," competition authorities said in a statement.

The ultimate decision rests with the Competition Tribunal, which in most cases backs deals approved by the commission. Rosalind Lake, a lawyer who represented NYK in the matter, said the company was not in a position to comment until the Tribunal had ruled on the settlement. The commission found that NYK colluded on 14 tenders with its competitors for the transport of motor vehicles by sea issued by several automotive manufacturers to and from South Africa including BMW, Toyota Motor Corporation, Nissan and Honda among others. The Commission’s investigation is continuing into the activities of the rest of the companies.

The commission said it was still pursuing its investigation into other shippers of motor vehicles, equipment and machinery to and from South Africa.

($1 = 12.2186 rand)