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Maersk Sells Stake in Ferry Operator DFDS for $305 Million

Sept. 5 (Bloomberg) -- A.P. Moeller-Maersk A/S, Denmark’s biggest company, will sell its 31.3 percent stake in ferry operator DFDS A/S in a divestment valued at 1.73 billion kroner ($305 million) based on yesterday’s closing prices.

DFDS will purchase the equivalent of 12 percent of its share capital from Maersk, and the Lauritzen Foundation, the ferry line’s main shareholder, agreed to buy 2 percent, Copenhagen-based DFDS said today in a statement. Maersk is selling the rest of the stake in an accelerated bookbuilding, a short-term secondary sale.

Under Chief Executive Officer Nils Smedegaard Andersen, Maersk, which has more than 1,000 subsidiaries, has been disposing of units to focus on its main areas of container shipping, oil drilling and ports. Copenhagen-based Maersk obtained its shares in July 2010 when it sold its Norfolk ferry unit to DFDS in stock deals.

“We have been interested in selling our stake in DFDS when the timing was right,” Maersk Chief Financial Officer Trond Westlie said in a statement. “This is in line with our continued portfolio optimization.”

DFDS shares fell as much as 5.7 percent and declined 3.4 percent to 358.5 kroner at 11:05 a.m. in Copenhagen. Maersk shares rose 1.4 percent to 50,150 kroner. DFDS shares have gained 40 percent this year, giving the company a market value of 5.3 billion kroner.

DFDS, which is the Nordic region’s largest listed ferry operator, said it plans to cancel the shares the company is buying.

Maersk will use proceeds from the sale to invest in its other units, Henrik Lund, head of investor relations, said by phone. The company is using Danske Bank A/S and Nordea Bank AB as joint bookrunners for today’s transaction.

To contact the reporter on this story: Christian Wienberg in Copenhagen at cwienberg@bloomberg.net

To contact the editor responsible for this story: Tasneem Brogger at tbrogger@bloomberg.net

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