A.P. Moeller-Maersk A/S (MAERSKB) plans to sell stakes in supermarket and department-store units as the owner of the world’s largest container-shipping line divests assets that aren’t related to transport and energy.
Maersk rose to the highest in more than six years after saying it will sell a 48.68 percent holding in Dansk Supermarked A/S and 18.72 percent of F. Salling A/S to partners F. Salling Invest A/S and F. Salling Holding A/S. Maersk will book a gain of 14 billion kroner ($2.56 billion) out of proceeds of as much as 17 billion kroner, the Copenhagen-based company said today in a statement
Since Chief Executive Officer Nils Smedegaard Andersen took over in 2007, Maersk has been selling divisions to focus on container shipping, port operations, oil exploration and drilling. The company has more than 1,000 subsidiaries.
“It was a prudent step to take at this point,” Andersen said today on a conference call. For now, Maersk will use proceeds to reduce net debt as the company has no planned acquisitions, he said. ‘Although we have no concrete plans, financial capability is never a bad thing to have.’’
Maersk jumped as much as 5.2 percent and was trading up 4.2 percent at 62,750 kroner, the highest price since November 2007, as of 10:18 a.m. in Copenhagen. The stock has gained 40 percent in the past 12 months.
Proceeds from the sale of the retailing businesses may be used to boost dividend payments if the company doesn’t find acquisitions targets, Andersen said. “But we have a lot of investment opportunities” in Maersk’s four main areas, he said.
Maersk’s divestments under Andersen include a liquefied natural gas vessel operator, an unprofitable shipyard, a stake in ferry operator DFDS A/S (DFDS) and, two days ago, the $980 million sale of 15 crude-oil tankers to Antwerp, Belgium-based shipping company Euronav SA.
Dansk Supermarked runs the Foetex, Bilka, Netto and Salling retail chains in four European countries. The Salling companies, the other owners of Dansk Supermarked and F. Salling, have the right to buy the remaining 19 percent that Maersk holds in the two units after five years, the company said today.
Andersen said Maersk has no plans to sell its 20 percent stake in Danske Bank A/S (DANSKE), Denmark’s biggest lender, because it’s “a strategic investment.”
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