Maersk Eyes Growth After Takeovers

Friday, March 09, 2001
Container shipping line Maersk Sealand, owned by Denmark`s shipping and oil conglomerate A.P. Moeller (APM), said on it was ready to expand again after a successful integration of its last major acquisitions. "We aim for a bigger market share and want to grow faster than the market", APM Chief Financial Officer Eivind Kolding said. In 1999 Maersk Line acquired South African shipping group Safmarine and U.S.-based international container line Sea-Land for a total of $1.04 billion. The deals made the Danish group the leading global container line with 250 ships and 700,000 containers and an estimated market share of 13 percent. However, the APM group`s ambitions are not limited to shipping activities, which accounted for 90 percent of 2000 first-half revenue. Its oil business, which despite a marginal revenue contribution, stood for 70 percent of H1 pre-tax profits of 4.1 billion crowns, was also seen growing. "We are aware of opportunities for consolidation in the oil industry but have not so far been attracted by anything," Kolding said. "We want to be bigger and better within shipping as well as oil. We are not scaling down in one area and accelerating in another. But oil is indisputably very important for our earnings for the time being." APM`s main oil operations outside the Danish sector of the North Sea are in Algeria and Qatar. Kolding said the state of the U.S. economy, APM`s biggest container market, was very important to the company. "The weakening of the U.S. economy has a negative effect on freight rates and transportation volumes and hence on our income, all else being equal," he said. On the other hand a strong dollar is supportive for the group`s profits, he said. - (Reuters)

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