AP Møller-Maersk has changed its chief executive as the world’s second-largest container shipping line faces “an increasingly challenging outlook”.
Søren Skou, 58, a Maersk veteran of 40 years and chief executive for the past seven, will leave at the end of the year. He will be replaced by Vincent Clerc, head of the Danish group’s ocean and logistics business.
Robert Uggla, Maersk’s chair, thanked Skou for transforming the company from a sprawling conglomerate into a shipping and logistics group.
“I am equally grateful for Søren’s support in the CEO succession review, making sure the company does not lose any momentum in its strategic endeavours in a changing and difficult market,” he added.
“The strong tail winds that benefited the supply chain industries during the pandemic are coming to an end.
“With an increasingly challenging outlook, the board believes Vincent holds the right experience and capabilities as CEO to pursue and oversee Maersk’s strategic and organisational development in the years to come.”
Maersk, one of the engines of globalisation by carrying one in five seaborne containers, is facing up to a shipping slowdown after two boom years as well as longer-term challenges such as making its vessels emissions-free.
Skou has also bulked up Maersk’s logistics business to provide a balance to its dominant container shipping arm.
The outgoing chief executive said: “Now is the right time for Maersk, for Vincent and for me to make this transition. The company has executed very well over the past years. We have never been stronger financially and we have an inspiring and visionary plan for the continuation of our global integrator strategy that will guide Maersk for many years to come.”
Clerc, a 50-year-old Swiss who joined Maersk in 1997, will be the first non-Dane to lead Maersk in its 118-year history and only its sixth-ever chief executive.
He stressed how companies were “rethinking their supply chains” and that would present an “incredible business opportunity” to Maersk to help them with stability and decarbonisation.
Maersk is judged by experts to be leading the container shipping industry in looking for green fuels to power its vessels over the next decades.
Maersk’s shares, which are down almost 40 per cent this year as investors fret about the slowdown in container shipping after almost quintupling during the Covid-19 pandemic, fell 3 per cent on Monday morning on the news.
Analysts at Citi said they did not expect Clerc to make “any material change” to Maersk’s strategy of trying to become a one-stop shop for companies’ logistics, especially by investing heavily in land operations.
Drewry, the shipping research group, estimates container shipping groups will make as much money in 2020-22 as they did in the previous six-decade history of the industry.
Maersk has paid higher dividends and share buybacks as well as buying several logistics companies and ordering a dozen ships capable of running on green methanol.
Read the full article here