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Maersk exploring all options as report points to 2-way split

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AP Moeller-Maersk A/S said it's still considering several options in its strategic review after a local newspaper reported that the Danish conglomerate was exploring a two-way split into an energy and a transport company.

[COPENHAGEN] AP Moeller-Maersk A/S said it's still considering several options in its strategic review after a local newspaper reported that the Danish conglomerate was exploring a two-way split into an energy and a transport company.

"As our chairman previously has said, we want to evaluate all options," Louise Muenter, head of media and stakeholder relations at Maersk in Copenhagen, said in an e-mailed response to questions on Friday.

"The structure of the group is one of many options being evaluated, but it is important to point out that it is one of many possibilities, as structure alone doesn't ensure growth."

Newspaper Berlingske reported that the most likely outcome of the review would be the formation of two separately listed companies and that a complete split-up, forming separate companies out of all of Maersk's main divisions, was now off the table.

The new "Maersk Transport" company would include the Maersk Line, APM Terminals, Maersk Tankers, Damco and Svitzer divisions, according to the newspaper.

"Maersk Energy" would include Maersk Oil, Maersk Drilling and Maersk Supply Service, Berlingske said. The newspaper cited unidentified people that it said are close to the talks.

"The split-up could be positive for the energy divisions as they may get a higher degree of freedom and a board that's more in tune with developing their specific strategies," Frans Hoyer, a Maersk analyst at Jyske Bank A/S, said by phone.

"But it will also be negative for the units to lose the big support they have from the conglomerate as they would no longer operate with the backing from the group's capital."

Maersk said it didn't want to comment on the specifics of the article and that it will announce the findings of its review by the end of the third quarter.

The review's main goal "is to assess how to further strengthen the group's ability to react to market changes as well as its synergies to ensure growth in the future," Ms Muenter said.

Maersk shares rose as much as 1.6 per cent and advanced 1.3 per cent to 9,465 kroner as of 9:40 am in Copenhagen, giving the company a market valuation of about 192 billion kroner (S$39.05 billion).

Chairman Michael Pram Rasmussen said on June 23 that Maersk will investigate whether some of its units would be better off "standing outside the group."

Maersk shares rose 12 per cent that day, which also marked the departure of Nils Smedegaard Andersen as chief executive officer, as most investors estimate the company will be worth more if the conglomerate structure is dismantled.

"If Maersk shares had been trading at a 10 to 20 per cent discount due to the conglomerate structure, that discount seems to be gone already with the market reaction we have seen since the review was announced," Jyske's Hoyer, who has a sell recommendation on Maersk shares, said.

"But I think that everything is still open."

BLOOMBERG