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Maersk Announces Sudden Departure of COO Søren Toft

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By The Maritime Executive 11-11-2019 05:13:53

A.P. Moller – Maersk has announced the immediate departure of one of its rising stars, 45-year-old EVP and chief operating officer Søren Toft. In a statement issued Monday, Maersk said that Toft "has decided to pursue an opportunity outside of the company and will leave effective today."

Toft arrived at Maersk in the mid-1990s and rose quickly through the ranks. He was promoted to the post of CEO and VP of Maersk Germany in 2008, then VP of center operations in 2010. He was appointed COO of Maersk Line in 2014.

For a 2017 profile, Maersk colleagues told Danish outlet ShippingWatch that Toft had the potential to one day succeed current CEO Søren Skou. In a reversal, Skou will now take over Toft's role (in addition to his own) while Maersk searches for a replacement. 

“I have worked with Søren for many years, and I appreciate Søren’s many contributions to A.P. Moller - Maersk. He leaves an agile and strong operating organization and we all wish Søren the very best in the future,” said Søren Skou in a statement.

Toft has been credited with playing a key role in the number-one container carrier's acquisition of competitor Hamburg Sud in 2017. He handled sensitive negotiations with the German line's owners, the Oetker family, in order to broker the arrangement. The deal preserved Hamburg Sud's identity and structure while giving the A.P. Moller - Maersk group a market-leading combined fleet capacity of 4.15 million TEU. 

Toft was also the public face for Maersk's liner operations. He delivered the carrier's condolences to the families of the deceased after the Maersk Honam disaster; he also advertised the line's sustainability initiaitives, like its goal to trial zero-carbon shipping by 2030, its investment in lignin-ethanol fuel research and - just last week - its containerized onboard battery power project