Maersk appoints head of shipping business as new CEO

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Copenhagen | Published: June 23, 2016 8:20:09 PM

Danish shipping and oil group A. P. Moller-Maersk has appointed Soren Skou, a company veteran who heads its container shipping business, as chief executive to steer it through a historic downturn in both its key markets.

Maersk shares rose as more than 10 percent on the news to 9.020 Danish crowns per share, with investors seeing the change as a signs of a wider shake-up. The stock is still down some 26 percent from a year ago. (Reuters)Maersk shares rose as more than 10 percent on the news to 9.020 Danish crowns per share, with investors seeing the change as a signs of a wider shake-up. The stock is still down some 26 percent from a year ago. (Reuters)

Danish shipping and oil group A. P. Moller-Maersk has appointed Soren Skou, a company veteran who heads its container shipping business, as chief executive to steer it through a historic downturn in both its key markets.

Maersk shares rose as more than 10 percent on the news to 9.020 Danish crowns per share, with investors seeing the change as a signs of a wider shake-up. The stock is still down some 26 percent from a year ago.

Skou, 51, replaces Nils Smedegaard Andersen who has been in the job since 2007.

He will begin in his new role on July 1, while remaining the head of Maersk Line, the company said in a statement. Andersen will leave the group, it said.

The board of directors had told Skou to “investigate the strategic and structural options to further increase agility and synergies.” It plans to report on its progress by the end of the third quarter of the year.

Also Read: Maersk to send first two ships for recycling at Alang this month

The change comes just days after the grandson of Maersk Mc-Kinney Moller, who transformed the shipping group into an international conglomerate, was appointed chief executive of the holding company behind the group.

Maersk Line is fighting to remain the world’s leading container shipping carrier as a wave of mergers and acquisitions, particularly in Asia, creates new challengers trying to grab a bigger share of a depressed market.

The oil division has also been hit by weak energy markets. .

“The board wants a change of strategy for the group. There has probably been some disagreements about that, and I think that’s clear from the statement,” said Michael Friis Jorgensen, analyst at Alm. Brand Bank in Copenhagen.

Skou has been with A.P. Moller-Maersk for 33 years, becoming a member of the executive board in 2006 and appointed CEO of Maersk Line in 2012.

The change could open new possibilities for the group which has faced record low shipping rates for its container business and a more than 60 percent drop in oil prices.

“Will they delist, enter new business areas, focus investments further away from the oil business?,” said Jorgensen, who expects the management to update investors on such questions at it Capital Markets Day in September.

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