Maersk CEO Soren Skou Leaves, Will Be Replaced by Vincent Clerc

An A.P. Moller Maersk A/S container ship
An A.P. Moller Maersk A/S container ship offshore from the Port of Wilhelmshaven in Germany. (Krisztian Bocsi/Bloomberg News)

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A.P. Moller-Maersk A/S CEO Soren Skou will step down and will be replaced by Vincent Clerc, the current head of the transport giant’s ocean and logistics business.

Clerc, 50, will start Jan. 1 as part of a “planned CEO transition,” the Copenhagen-based company said on Dec. 12. Skou, 58, was a teenager when he joined Maersk as a trainee and has been with Maersk his whole career. Clerc, a Swiss international and the first non-Dane to lead the 120-year-old company, joined Maersk in 1997.

Clerc will take the top job at Denmark’s biggest company at a time when container freight rates are falling drastically after a period of record profits sparked by pandemic spending. He also faces the task of decarbonizing a fleet of more than 700 vessels. Maersk, which is responsible for 0.1% of the world’s global emissions, plans to become carbon neutral in 2040



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“Now is the right time for Maersk, for Vincent, and for me to make this transition,” Skou said in a statement. He will leave Maersk but continue to work elsewhere “at nonexecutive level,” he said.

Skou was promoted to CEO in 2016 to dismantle the conglomerate structure of the family-controlled company, and under his tenure the company sold its oil and gas businesses and focused on transport. Since he took over, Maersk shares have gained 14% per year on average, compared with about 26% for peers. The Copenhagen-based company has paid shareholders large dividends.

Since Clerc has been part of Maersk’s executive group for years, he’s unlikely to make changes to “Maersk’s overall strategy, bolt-on M&A ambitions in Logistics or regarding its capital allocation policy,” Brian Godsk Borsting, a senior analyst at Danske Bank, said in a note.

Maersk ranks No. 5 on the Transport Topics Top 50 list of the largest global freight companies.

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