Maersk Tankers slims down for USD 1.7 billion

Hanne B. Sørensen has cut another chunk from Maersk Tankers by divesting its entire LPG division. She believes that the shipping company has the right size now, after invested capital has been reduced by USD 1.7 billion since 2011.

With the sale of its LPG division, five owned and five chartered gas tankers, Maersk Tankers has just about reached a proper, smaller size after previously being a "very large shipping company," as CEO Hanne B. Sørensen tells ShippingWatch.

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In 2012 and 2013, the shipping company was forced to reduce the size of the its fleet and to focus its efforts on fewer segments.

With the announcement Wednesday about the sale to BW Group, the remaining segments are crude oil and product tank. In the same period, from the end of 2011 till today, the capital invested in Maersk Tankers by the Maersk Group has been reduced USD 5.6 billion to currently USD 3.9 billion. That figure includes impairments and time charter contracts, included in the balance, but a majority comes from ship divestments.

"We were a very large shipping company, now we have a more regular size. There could of course a situation that the can't turn down, but we have further divestments planned for now. The latest sale enables us to focus our energy, which was the plan all along. LPG is a reasonable market right now, which is why this was a pretty good business for us," says Hanne B. Sørensen, who declines to comment futher on the amount.

Third divestment

The sale of the LPG segment is the third in the line of major divestments performed by the deficit-making tank shipping company.

The two first divestments took place during the fall last year, involving the sale of the tank division of Small Northwest Europe to Swedish Thun Group, which recently announced a joint venture with two other Swedish tanker companies, Gothia Tankers. And the shipping company also sold off all its 11 handygas ships in Maersk Tankers to American Navigator Gas, with the involvement of charismatic investor Wilbur Ross. The handygas segment alone was responsible for 10-12 percent of the invested capital in Maersk Tankers.

In the latest edition of ShippingWatch's biannual magazine, published this May, Hanne B. Sørensen talked about the efforts to turn Maersk Tankers, which has lost USD 432 million over the last two years, into a good business again.

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Divestments, retrofitting, and a belief that the tank market will turn around, those are the three main ingredients in Hanne B. Sørensen's plan to improve the company's finances.

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