Søren Skou: IPOs most likely solution for Maersk Energy

Maersk Group CEO Søren Skou says in an interview with Bloomberg TV during the Davos summit that he thinks the most likely scenario for the group's energy business is an IPO. Søren Skou also projects increasing global trade.

Photo: PR-foto: Kontraframe / Thorbjørn Hansen

Maersk's energy companies will likely be taken public, says CEO Søren Skou in an interview with Bloomberg TV during the World Economic Forum in Davos.

In the interview, the Danish CEO is asked whether the companies in the new Maersk Energy unit will be divested or listed.

We're looking at all options. I think the last one you mention is probably the more likely option, but it's still too early to say"

Søren Skou, Group CEO, Maersk
He points out that an IPO of the four companies; Maersk Oil, Maersk Drilling, Maersk Supply Service, and Maersk Tankers, looks like the most probable solution, though it is still too early to say for sure.

"We're looking at all options. I think the last one you mention is probably the more likely option, but it's still too early to say," Skou tells Bloomberg TV.

The decision to split the former conglomerate into two – an energy unit and a transport unit – was announced in September when the Maersk Group presented its new strategy.

The new course means that, going forward, Maersk will bet on transport, while the group has set a deadline of two years to get rid of the energy business.

"We want to make sure that we separate the businesses out in way that creates the most value for our shareholders, and exactly how to do that is still unclear," he says, though he adds that IPOs are the most likely solution.

Surprised by consolidation

The companies in Maersk Energy account for close to one third of the group's business. This part will now be replaced by growth in the transport unit, which covers Maersk Line, APM Terminals, Svitzer, Damco, and Maersk Container Industry.

In a move aimed at readying the transport unit for growth, Maersk Line recently acquired German container carrier Hamburg Süd, which will help fill the gap left when the energy companies are spun off.

In the interview, Skou explains that he was surprised by the large-scale consolidation that characterized the container sector last year. He now hopes that the sector is equipped to benefit from a slight increase in global trade in 2017.

"Our business, more than any, is subject to supply and demand, and we expect a little better demand growth this year than what we saw last year. The really important thing is how carriers deploy capacity. There's plenty of idle capacity, so if you want to deploy more, you can easily do that," Skou tells Bloomberg TV.

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