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Pressure continues to mount on Skou’s Maersk vision

Two key investors in Maersk, who combined have $125m backing Denmark’s largest maritime conglomerate, have questioned the strategic direction the company is taking, urging top management to get the basics of current operations working more smoothly before embarking on more ambitious tech projects.

Interviewed by Danish newspaper Børsen, Karsten Lund Søndermølle, portfolio manager at Bankinvest, commented: “We sit and watch that they cannot protect themselves from cyber attacks and they cannot get their ships sailing on time. So why should they take on a more complicated task?” A second unidentified investor laid similar criticism on the Soren Skou-led company.

In the group’s latest quarterly results, the group made a $239m loss, with Skou, who has been in charge since July 2016, once again describing the results, especially of its containerline, as “unsatisfactory”.

Under Skou, Maersk has moved to offload its energy assets to be focused on ports, container shipping and logistics. He has also led container shipping’s embrace of the latest technology. In December he commented that his vision for the company was to become more like UPS. “Our aim is to become a global integrator of container logistics,” Skou said, explaining he wanted to link up and integrate various strands of Maersk businesses to be more like UPS and FedEx with better cross selling of services to customers.

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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