Maersk backpedals on supermarket sale
The head of the world’s largest shipping line has refuted a newspaper article suggesting that his company, the A.P. Moller-Maersk Group, was looking to offload retailer Dansk Supermarked, which operates the Netto, Bilka and Føtex chains.
Nils Smedegaard Andersen, Maersk’s managing director, wrote in a letter to Dansk Supermarked employees that the article, published yesterday in Berlingske newspaper, had completely misconstrued his statements and that there were no plans afoot for selling the group.
“The Berlingske article is completely misleading because, unlike what the newspaper indicated, there are no changes or announcements in regards to the group’s support for Dansk Supermarked,” Andersen told financial daily Børsen.
A profitable business
Andersen rejected any notion that Maersk was looking into selling Dansk Supermarked, saying instead that the organisation was an “independent and strong Danish retail business”.
Dansk Supermarked has been part of the Maersk Group since 1964, and consistently turns a profit of around 56 billion kroner annually. In addition to the three supermarket chains, it also runs the Aarhus-based Salling department stores.
“We look forward to continuing our close co-operation with the leadership of the Salling Foundation and Dansk Supermarked with a view to further develop the business and continue investing in its international expansion as an independent Danish-based company,” Andersen wrote in the letter to the Dansk Supermarked employees.
An unnatural fit
This is not the first time that Dansk Supermarked has been targeted for a potential sale. Last year, Maersk was forced to downplay rumours that it was trying to sell the group, as well as its shares in Danske Bank.
And according to Martin Jes Iversen, a financial historian at Copenhagen Business School, a sale would only make sense.
“Compared with the rest of the group, Dansk Supermarked has some different market dynamics and logistics,” Iversen told Børsen. “Dansk Supermarket isn’t a natural component of A.P. Moller-Maersk.”
Maersk did not say whether it would demand that Berligske retract its article.