Maersk has initiated a sales process for Esbjerg-based offshore carrier Esvagt, reports Danish newspaper Berlingske on Tuesday.
According to the newspaper´s sources, Maersk hired Danske Bank about a week ago to handle the divestment of Esvagt, which supplies safety service to for instance drilling rigs in the North Sea and the Barents Sea. Esvagt operates a fleet of 40 vessels and employs around 800 people.
Maersk owns 75 percent of Esvagt. The remaining 25 percent are owned by stakeholders including Denmark's former Minister of Fisheries, Kent Kirk, who serves as vice chairman of the Esvagt board of directors.
Maersk shares the ownership with a series of local business people from Esbjerg, and the local stakeholders have been resisting a sale of Esvagt because they wanted to keep the carrier in Esbjerg instead of handing it over to owners abroad.
"The dispute with Kent Kirk and the company has been resolved somehow, so Maersk is now finally able to move on with a sale of Esvagt," a source familiar with the process tells the newspaper.
But Kent Kirk, vice chairman and representative for the company Ese-Holding's 25 percent stake in Esvagt, does not recognize the strong rumors that Esvagt is up for sale. Maersk, on the other hand, confirms that Esvagt is not one of the group's core businesses.
"I cannot confirm this information. Our collaboration with the majority stakeholder is aimed at developing the company with investments in new ships. That's all I can say, and I have no further comments, because I have no idea where this information comes from. It's not my impression that this is the case," Kent Kirk tells ShippingWatch.
Berlingske's source states that Esvagt, which made profit of USD 45.5 million in 2013 from a revenue of close to USD 130 million, will be put up for sale at a price of around USD 580 million.
"We fully support Esvagt and the growth strategy - also with the necessary capital for investments. This does not mean that Esvagt or other of the group's non-core activities can never be sold if an opportunity comes along that is better for the business and for A.P. Moeller-Maersk," says press officer Mikkel Elbek Linnet in an email to Berlingske.
Already in 2013 there were consistent rumors that Maersk was looking to sell Esvagt, while the owners, led by Kent Kirk, resisted the move.
Maersk Group CFO Trond Westlie has served as chairman of the Esvagt board of directors since September 2014. Bendt Bendtsen, former Minister for Business and current member of the European Parliament, also serves on the carrier's board of directors.