Maersk Mc-Kinney Moller, Maersk's Patriarch, Dies

Published Apr 16, 2012 10:48 AM by The Maritime Executive

Maersk Mc-Kinney Moller, who transformed his Danish family shipping business into the world’s biggest container shipping company, has died today at the age of 98.

Shares in A.P. Moller-Maersk, which is still controlled by the Moller family, rose over 6 percent as analysts said younger generations might spin off parts of an empire that also spans oil businesses, supermarkets and a stake in a bank, according to Reuters UK.

Moller was ranked as Denmark's wealthiest man and often voted by Danes as the country's most influential businessman. Moller made his last public appearance at the group's annual general meeting last Thursday, chatting briefly with shareholders and signing autographs, although many reports state he looked frail.

Many wonder if the shipping conglomerate could now face changes, like stock splits or demergers, as A.P. Moller-Maersk owns a 20 percent stake in Danske Bank and a controlling interest in supermarket chain Dansk Supermarked in addition to its main shipping and oil businesses. However, company representatives insist that this death will not affect the company’s strategy.

Moller's fortune was worth US$14.5 billion last year according to a list of the richest Danes, placing him at the top. Moller put most of his stock in A.P. Moller-Maersk into family foundations that he headed, but kept a 3.72 percent stake in the company and 6.49 percent of the voting rights. The Moller family's control of the group is secured through two family funds which together own 51.07 percent of the shares and 64.13 percent in the voting rights. Moller's daughter, Ane Maersk Mc-Kinney Uggla, is deputy chairman of the board of the company and will become chairman of the biggest family foundation. Two grandsons, Robert Uggla and Johan Uggla, both hold executive positions within the Maersk group and have been seen as future likely leaders of the family business, again reports Reuters UK.

Financial experts believe that the current rise in the share price probably echoed hopes on the part of some shareholders that control of the company could slacken somewhat, which could open up more strategic opportunities than before.

Moller, whose father and grandfather founded the company, took over leadership of the business when his father died in 1965. He handed over daily management in 1993, but remained involved in its affairs through the family foundations. Moller remained active in the decision making and activities of the group, frequently going to the Copenhagen headquarters where he kept an office and travelling around the world to represent the successful company.

Commemorations from Maersk Group Chairman and CEO