Copenhagen-based shipping container and oil conglomerate A.P. Møller-Mærsk said it will split into two separate businesses — forming a transport and logistics company and a separate energy business that will focus on the North Sea.
Maersk is involved in many UK North Sea oil fields and it operates the $4.5 billion Culzean gas development 145 miles east of Aberdeen — the largest hydrocarbon discovery in the UK North Sea in over a decade.
Reuters reported that Maersk was also in talks to buy a portfolio of North Sea assets from Royal Dutch Shell as it considers scaling up its oil and gas business ahead of a spin-off.
Maersk has given itself 24 months to consider options for its energy division that could include joint ventures, mergers or a listing.
In a press release, Maersk said its oil and oil related businesses, either individually or in combination, will be separated from A.P. Møller-Mærsk.
“Maersk Oil will focus on optimizing and strengthening its strong position in the Danish, British and Norwegian parts of the North Sea,” the company said.
“The board of directors expect that the oil and oil related businesses in A.P. Møller-Mærsk A/S will require different solutions for future development including separation of entities individually or in combination from A.P. Møller-Mærsk A/S in the form of joint-ventures, mergers or listing.
“Depending on market development and structural opportunities, the objective is to find solutions for the oil and oil related businesses within 24 months.”
Maersk chairman Michael Pram Rasmussen said: “The industries in which we are operating are very different, and both face very different underlying fundamentals and competitive environments.
“Separating our transport and logistics businesses and our oil and oil related businesses into two independent divisions will enable both to focus on their respective markets.
“This will increase the strategic flexibility by enhancing synergies between businesses in transport & logistics, while ensuring the agility to pursue individual strategic solutions for the oil and oil related businesses.”
Maersk said its new energy division will consist of Maersk Oil, Maersk Drilling, Maersk Supply Service and Maersk Tankers.
Barclays analysts have estimated that Maersk Oil on its own could have a market value of around $4.7 billion.
“Maersk Oil will adjust its current strategy to focus its portfolio in fewer geographies to gain scale in basins, particularly in the North Sea, where it can leverage its strong capabilities within subsurface modelling, well technology and efficient operations,” said the Danish firm.
“Maersk Oil will aim to strengthen its portfolio through acquisitions or mergers.
“Further, Maersk Oil will mature existing key development projects, while keeping exploration activities and expenses at a low level.
“While the strategic focus will be reflected in a disciplined capital allocation, investments in strategic projects already sanctioned or under development will continue as planned.
“Maersk Drilling, Maersk Supply Services, and Maersk Tankers will continue to optimise their market position and operation with the existing fleet and order book.
“Additional investments in the group’s offshore service businesses and Maersk Tankers will be limited.”
Søren Skou will continue as group CEO of A.P. Møller-Mærsk A/S and CEO of the transport and logistics division.
Claus Hemmingsen will be appointed group vice CEO of A.P. Møller-Mærsk A/S effective October 1, 2016 and CEO of the energy division.
Jakob Thomasen will step down as CEO of Maersk Oil effective October 1, 2016 and will leave the group on November 1, 2016.
Group CEO Søren Skou said: “Both Energy and Transport & Logistics have strategies positioning them for growth and strategic agility …
“Energy is well positioned to leverage Maersk Oil’s expertise and gain scale in select geographies, particularly in the North Sea.
“Its structural agility will enable management to pursue new and different structural solutions and investment.”