Maersk looking to sell supermarket chains

CEO of the shipping giant said he is ready to sell companies that are not part of its core business

The world's largest shipping operator, the A.P. Moller-Mærsk Group (Maersk), is ready to streamline its operations by selling retail conglomerate Dansk Supermarked, which operates the supermarket chains Føtex, Netto, and Bilka and the department store Salling.

Maersk CEO Nils Smedegaard Andersen said that he is willing to sell the company's holdings that are not directly concerned with shipping or oil drilling.

"We own some companies that we see as investments," he told Berlingske Business newspaper. "We are going to sell those if we find a better owner and if we come up with more efficient constructions."

Will hold on to Danske Bank 
The message is a change of course for the company. Last year, Smedegaard debunked rumours that Maersk was planning to sell Dansk Supermarked as well as shares in Danske Bank.

When asked about the new stance, Smedegaard said he is not putting the bank for sale yet.

"Danske Bank is a long term investment that we want to keep, but it is not a part of the core business," he said.

READ MORE: Maersk exec to take over at Danske Bank

Price of 20 billion is peanuts 
If Maersk ends up selling the 1,300 supermarkets run by Dansk Supermarked, the price of approximately 20 billion kroner would barely fund a year of oil investments.

"The price of Dansk Supermarked is the same as what Maersk Oil spends on investments on a year in the Chissonga [in Angola] and the Johan Sverdrup fields [in Norway]," Jesper Christensen, an analyst for investment bank Alm. Brand Markets, told Berlingske. "At first glance it may look like a lot of money, but it doesn't take the company as far as you would think."

READ MORE: Maersk in "massive" North Sea investment

Dansk Supermarked has been part of Maersk since 1964 and has generated a steady surplus with an annual turnover of around 56 billion kroner.

So far, no potential buyers have stepped forward, Berlingske reports.