Maersk to divest Danske Bank stake

[COPENHAGEN] AP Moeller-Maersk A/S plans to divest its stake in Danske Bank A/S as Chief Executive Officer Nils Smedegaard Andersen focuses on developing the oil and shipping businesses.

Maersk will dispose of its 20.05 per cent stake in Denmark's biggest bank and distribute an extraordinary cash dividend to shareholders, the Copenhagen-based company said in a statement on Wednesday. The Danske Bank shares will be offered to Maersk shareholders. AP Moeller Holding, the family entity controlling 42 per cent of Maersk, will buy a 15 per cent stake in the bank.

Since Andersen took over in 2007, Maersk has been selling divisions to focus on container shipping, port operations, oil exploration and drilling. Disposals include its stake in a supermarket, an unprofitable shipyard and a stake in a ferry operator. The company has more than 1,000 subsidiaries.

"Over a period we have been met with requests from shareholders to divest our shares in Danske Bank," Chairman Michael Pram Rasmussen said in the statement. "With the undertaking from AP Moeller Holding such a sale is now possible and will at the same time secure a long-term Danish ownership of Danske Bank. In addition AP Moeller-Moersk can focus the resources on our core portfolio." The company will decide the size of the extraordinary dividend at its March 30 shareholders meeting. The Danske Bank stake is worth about 35.8 billion kroner (US$5.45 billion) based on Tuesday's closing price.


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