Korea Slaps €9.5mn Fine on French GTT
The Korea Fair Trade Commission (KFTC) on November 25 announced a fine of approximately €9.5mn ($11.3mn) on French LNG containment system specialist GTT for not complying with local competition regulations. KFTC was investigating GTT’s commercial practices with the Korean shipyards in relation to the construction of LNG carriers.
In its decision, the KFTC said that some of GTT’s commercial practices have not complied with Korean competition regulations since 2016, and has asked the French firm to allow those shipyards which would so request to perform all or part of the technical assistance services currently included in the technology licence.
Korea’s leading shipyards pay GTT a licence fee for using its proprietary membrane containment system on the LNG carriers they build. This has been the source of contention for years now.
GTT in a separate statement said that it wishes to emphasise that the licence of the technology and the technical assistance constitute an inseparable offering, which guarantees the integrity of its technologies, and that any separation could be detrimental to the entire LNG carrier industry.
“The company challenges the rationale of this decision and, upon receipt of the KFTC’s written decision, intends to appeal against it, with a request for suspension of the decision, before the Seoul high court,” GTT said.
The company stated that it does not anticipate any significant financial or industrial impact in the short or mid-term. Depending on the conclusions of the appeal procedure, it will reassess the consequences on its activities, it added.
“We are convinced that our commercial practices comply with the Korean competition rules and that the structuring of our offer, which has contributed for decades to the safe development of LNG maritime transport, makes it possible to provide our shipyard partners with ever more innovative, safe and efficient technologies, for the benefit of the entire industry,” GTT CEO Philippe Berterottiere said.