AG's office looking at proposed shipping merger

The state is looking at whether the proposed merger of two shipping companies would constitute a monopoly in southeast Alaska and violate antitrust laws, the attorney general's office said.

The office is studying the proposed purchase of Northland Services by Lynden Inc., the parent company of Alaska Marine Lines. Northland Services is a tug and barge carrier providing service between Alaska, Seattle and Hawaii.

Senior Assistant Attorney General Ed Sniffen said that while the companies operate throughout Alaska, it's the portion of the proposed deal affecting southeast Alaska that's the most concerning, since the companies are the only ones providing these kinds of services in many Southeast communities.

If a deal is approved, the state wants to make sure there's a good chance of healthy competition, Sniffen said.

Another company, Sitka-based Samson Tug and Barge, has proposed offering services in more Southeast communities, including Juneau, KINY reported ( ). Competing with a company like Lynden is difficult, since the company has been around, is large and knows what it is doing, Sniffen said.

A review by the attorney general's office of the proposed deal can take up to a year and a half, he said.

Sniffen spoke at a Juneau Chamber of Commerce event Thursday, along with Alaska Marine Line President Kevin Anderson and Samson vice president Cory Baggen.

Anderson said if the sale is completed, Northland Services would be an independent operating company under the Lynden umbrella, with Northland's current management team remaining in place. Pending completion of a deal, Northland remains an independent company.

Samson Tug and Barge would likely take on some of Northland's equipment if it enters the marketplace. The company would provide customers a lower-cost option, Baggen said.

07/12/2013 - 6:37am