Maersk exec to take over at Danske Bank

Denmark’s flagship bank chooses partner at world’s largest shipper and one of its own to lead bank through financial storm

Danske Bank announced early Monday morning that Eivind Kolding will replace Peter Straarup as managing director on February 15, confirming rumours that began circulating on Sunday afternoon. Straarup will retire after 43 years at Danske Bank, the last 13 as managing director.

The 52-year-old Kolding has served on Danske BankÂ’s board of directors since 2001, most recently as chairman. He stepped down from that position on Monday, when it was announced that he would be the new CEO. He will continue as a board member until he assumes his new job on February 15, however.

In addition to serving on Danske BankÂ’s board for ten years, Kolding, who is a lawyer, has been a ship agent and the managing director of Maersk Line, the worldÂ’s largest container shipping company, since 2006. He is also a partner at A.P. Moller-Maersk, where he served as finance director from 1989 to 2006.

Following the announcement, industry insiders lauded Kolding as a “good and secure choice” to take the reins at Denmark’s largest bank.

“Here’s a man who has proven his worth, who knows the bank, and who can get to work quickly. As such, he fulfills many of the qualities wanted in a new managing director,” Jyske Bank analyst Christian Hede told Jyllands-Posten newspaper.

Nevertheless, Hede said Kolding will face new challenges as the leader of Danske Bank.

“Eivind Kolding will be subject to much more notice from the media than he has been used to, and with it he’ll be under pressure from day one,” he said.

“On the other hand, he’s coming in at a time when the market is below its peak, so he may get a little tailwind from some natural things he has no control over. It’s likely that 2012 will be better for Danske Bank than either 2011 or 2010. In that regard, he’ll have positive results right from the start.”

Danske Bank was extremely profitable until the recession hit in 2008, and is widely considered to be a well-managed bank. Therefore, analysts do not expect Kolding to implement any dramatic changes at first.

“There’s no need for a revolution. His biggest challenge in the first stage will be to harness the potential of the current business. He doesn’t need to go out and buy something up or sell something off. Instead, he just needs to manage the business safely through the crisis, while trying to increase revenues,” Hede said.

Kolding said in a statement that he was looking forward “to working with the bank’s skilled management team to bring Danske Bank back to the top”.

“Danske Bank has an outstanding potential, and it will be my job, together with our many excellent employees, to help us realise that potential for the benefit of customers and shareholders.”

Ole Andersen has been named as Danske BankÂ’s new chairman of the board, replacing Kolding. Niels B. Christiansen is the boardÂ’s new co-chairman.

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