Maersk looks to non-ocean acquisitions for growth

Maersk shipping containers at a terminal in Liverpool. The world's biggest container firm is expanding its competitive universe to include different types of companies, including couriers like FedEx and UPS.
Maersk shipping containers at a terminal in Liverpool. The world's biggest container firm is expanding its competitive universe to include different types of companies, including couriers like FedEx and UPS.

COPENHAGEN • The largest container company in the world will start looking for takeover targets outside the shipping industry as it tries to pre-empt a new competitive landscape in which customers are morphing into rivals.

Mr Jakob Stausholm, AP Moller-Maersk's chief financial officer and head of transformation and strategy, said the company needed to expand its land-based activities to meet a growing need from clients.

"We're currently very big in the ocean segment, and we'd rather grow in non-ocean, so it may be a good idea to look for M&A (mergers and acquisitions) targets there," he said in an interview on Tuesday.

Buying land-based activities would mark a shift from the kind of consolidation Maersk and the industry have targeted in recent years. The Danish company, which is in the middle of offloading its energy business and last year completed its acquisition of Hamburg Sud, now has 20 per cent of the container shipping market. Maersk says it wants to be part of further consolidation, but analysts warn it may face regulatory hurdles.

Now, Maersk is expanding its competitive universe to include different types of companies, including couriers like FedEx and UPS, Mr Stausholm said.

"We're not going to be direct competitors to FedEx and UPS, but we will see them as peers," he added. "They are the global integrators in their industries and we want to become that in our industry."

He declined to identify what specific parts of the land-based logistics chain Maersk may target for takeovers.

EXPANSION PLANS

We're currently very big in the ocean segment, and we'd rather grow in non-ocean, so it may be a good idea to look for M&A targets there.

MR JAKOB STAUSHOLM, AP Moller-Maersk's chief financial officer and head of transformation and strategy.

He also said it may take some time before the firm makes such acquisitions because it is still focusing on getting its transport units to work more closely together.

Starting this year, Maersk will report revenue based on its ocean and non-ocean operations, with the latter including logistic service activities and the port terminals. Last year, non-ocean revenue made up about 28 per cent of Maersk's sales.

"It's clear that we are very small in that area," Mr Stausholm said. "We'll see that non-ocean will grow."

BLOOMBERG

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on February 22, 2018, with the headline 'Maersk looks to non-ocean acquisitions for growth'. Print Edition | Subscribe