Maersk to split group into separate transport, energy companies

Shipping line Maersk said it would be splitting into separate transport and energy businesses.
Shipping line Maersk said it would be splitting into separate transport and energy businesses.PHOTO: REUTERS

COPENHAGEN (BLOOMBERG) - AP Moeller-Maersk said it will split into separate transport and energy businesses as Denmark's biggest company moves ahead with an historic shake-up of the conglomerate.

Maersk, owner of the world's biggest shipping company, "will become an integrated transport and logistics company," the Copenhagen-based group said on Thursday. "Oil and oil related businesses, either individually or in combination, to be separated from" the group and "will focus on optimizing and strengthening its strong position in the Danish, British and Norwegian parts of the North Sea."

The shares rose as much as 4.2 per cent and traded 3 per cent higher at 10,200 kroner (S$1,671) as of 9:05 a.m. in Copenhagen, bringing this year's gains to 14 per cent.

Maersk also said its chief financial officer, Trond Westlie, will be replaced by Jakob Stausholm, who's currently in charge of strategy at Maersk Line. Jakob Thomasen, who had headed the oil unit, will also leave, together with Kim Fejfer, who had run the group's APM Terminals business.

Chairman Michael Pram Rasmussen first revealed Maersk was assessing the merits of splitting up the group on June 23, the same day he dismissed Nils Smedegaard Andersen as chief executive officer. The prospect of a structural reorganisation sent the shares up as much as 12 percent on the day, as most investors expect the company to be worth more once its different parts are freed from the conglomerate structure.

Maersk's board expects the oil and oil related businesses "will require different solutions for future development including separation of entities individually or in combination from A.P. Moeller-Maersk in the form of joint-ventures, mergers or listing." A solution is expected to be found within 24 months, it said.

Under Mr Andersen, the 112-year-old group sold off a number of units that weren't related to oil or shipping, including a stake in Danske Bank and shares in a supermarket chain. But he had repeatedly defended the conglomerate structure, arguing the various business units benefited from the synergies that the group structure brought with it.

Soren Skou, who replaced Mr Andersen, said both businesses have "strategies positioning them for growth and strategic agility."