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Buoyant Maersk sets aside up to $5.5bn for acquisitions

A record fourth quarter helped A.P. Møller – Mærsk double its 2020 profits with a significant chunk of the cash earned earmarked for acquisitions.

In the fourth quarter last year, EBITDA rose 85% to $2.71bn while full year EBITDA hit $8.3bn for the world’s largest containerline.

In bullish mood, the company, often seen by investors as a bellwether for the container shipping industry – stated today that it anticipates 2021 to be better than last year with EBITDA expected to be between $8.5bn to $10.5bn. Maersk’s 2021 over 2020 growth expectations at 3-5%, with most coming in the first half is in line with what other liners are expecting.

Of note in Maersk’s 150-page annual report issued today is the $4.5bn to $5.5bn the Danish conglomerate has set aside for acquisitions in 2021 and 2022.

“Financially we left 2020 with a very strong balance sheet and little debt, which will allow us to continue to invest in our transformation and grow profitably,” commented the CEO of A.P. Møller – Mærsk, Søren Skou.

Likely acquisitions for the self-styled global integrator of container logistics, according to the Maersk annual report are likely to focus on warehousing and distribution, air freight as well as customs services. On the ocean side of the business, Maersk said today its focus will be on developing our existing products further as well as adding new and unique products to our portfolio.

“A key driver to long-term Logistics & Services growth is the expansion of product and people capabilities through successful Mergers & Acquisitions (M&A). Acquiring new capabilities is a prerequisite to serve customers end- to-end, and A.P. Moller – Maersk will need to make acquisitions in the coming years,” the company stated going on to say that some of these planned acquisitions could be “substantial”.

A recent report from Jefferies, a US investment bank, suggested Maersk’s “war chest” for acquisitions would mainly be focused on land-based acquisitions. Senior management at Maersk have repeatedly suggested they have enough ships for the time being.

Sam Chambers

Starting out with the Informa Group in 2000 in Hong Kong, Sam Chambers became editor of Maritime Asia magazine as well as East Asia Editor for the world’s oldest newspaper, Lloyd’s List. In 2005 he pursued a freelance career and wrote for a variety of titles including taking on the role of Asia Editor at Seatrade magazine and China correspondent for Supply Chain Asia. His work has also appeared in The Economist, The New York Times, The Sunday Times and The International Herald Tribune.
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