Sharpening Its Focus, Maersk Agrees to Sell Tanker Business for $1.17 Billion -- WSJ

By Dominic Chopping and Costas Paris Features Dow Jones Newswires

The world's biggest container-ship operator sharpens focus on core business

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This article is being republished as part of our daily reproduction of WSJ.com articles that also appeared in the U.S. print edition of The Wall Street Journal (September 21, 2017).

A.P. Moeller-Maersk A/S on Wednesday said it would sell its tankers unit to its controlling shareholder for $1.17 billion, the latest move by the Danish shipping and energy conglomerate to break up its sprawling operations and focus on container shipping.

The sale of Maersk Tankers A/S, one of the world's largest operators of oil tankers, follows on the conglomerate's decision a year ago to separate its transport and energy businesses.

Under that plan, Maersk announced last month the sale of its Maersk Oil unit to France's Total SA for $4.95 billion. It still has its Maersk Drilling division, which operates oil and gas rigs mainly in the North Sea, and Maersk Supply, a fleet of 44 support ships for offshore operations, to sell or list.

Maersk Chief Executive Soren Skou said Wednesday the sale of Maersk Tankers represents "an important step in our strategy to free up resources and focus growth in A.P. Moeller-Maersk on container shipping, ports and logistics."

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The company is trying to reshape itself into a global supply-chain player like United Parcel Service Inc. and FedEx Corp. The shipping unit, Maersk Line, is the world's biggest container operator in terms of capacity.

The tankers unit is being bought by APMH Invest A/S, a subsidiary of A.P. Moller Holding A/S -- the controlling shareholder of A.P. Moller-Maersk. After the sale is completed, the buyer plans to establish a consortium with Japan's Mitsui & Co. Ltd. to hold the tankers business.

Headed by Maersk family heir Robert Uggla, A.P. Moller Holding is a private investment arm that controls 41.5% of Maersk shares and 51% of shareholder votes. It also controls 20% of Danske Bank, one of Denmark's largest financial institutions.

A.P. Moller Holding said it is looking for other acquisitions as part of its strategy to develop a new portfolio of companies. It recently set up A.P. Moller Capital, which will invest in infrastructure projects.

Maersk has owned the tanker business since 1928. The unit transports refined oil products around the world, has a fleet of 161 vessels and employs 3,100 people. Maersk said it would use the proceeds from the sale to reduce debt.

Mitsui is one of Japan's biggest trading companies, with interests in energy, chemicals, food, textiles, logistics and machinery. Its assets are worth $102.7 billion and its revenue for its most recent fiscal year was $39 billion.

Corrections & Amplifications Maersk Chief Executive Soren Skou said Wednesday's sale represented "an important step in our strategy." An earlier version of this article incorrectly stated the day as Thursday. (Sept. 20, 2017)

Write to Dominic Chopping at dominic.chopping@wsj.com and Costas Paris at costas.paris@wsj.com

(END) Dow Jones Newswires

September 21, 2017 05:15 ET (09:15 GMT)