March 22 - Reports in the mainstream business media indicate that top executives of several container shipping companies have been subpoenaed by US Justice Department investigators as part of an investigation into price fixing and violation of anti-trust

The subpoenas were issued last week in San Francisco during a meeting of the world's 20 biggest container shipping operators, which belong to the International Council of Containership Operators, commonly known as the Box Club.

Among the container carriers engaged with the case are Maersk Line, Hapag-Lloyd and OOCL. The action follows concerns raised by the US Justice Department after the shipping lines sought approval to form the Ocean and THE alliances, which allow shippers to pool their ships, as well as coordinate sailing schedules and port calls to save money, but according to many critics and analysts the alliances can lead to reduced services and increased prices.