Danish shipping firm Maersk said today it had sold its oil tanker business to its controlling shareholder as its plan to focus on transport and logistics continues to take shape.
AP Moller Holding will pay $1.17bn (£863m) in cash for the fleet of 161 oil tankers, and will then establish a new consortium for Maersk Tankers. The new consortium will include Japan's Mitsui and other possible partners, while AP Moller Holding will remain the majority shareholder.
Meanwhile, AP Moller Holding will take over Maersk Tankers' "entire organisation, portfolio and obligations", and assume all outstanding capital commitments of Maersk Tankers' fleet renewal programme.
Maersk Tankers employs 3,100 people and has been a part of AP Moller Maersk since 1928. It transports refined oil products globally.
Søren Skou, chief executive of Maersk, said establishing the future ownership of the tankers business was "an important step in our strategy to free up resources".
He said Maersk Tankers had served the firm well "for almost a century, building an industry-leading position within the product tanker market". He stressed the importance of finding an owner for it "with a long-term view in this industry".
Maersk is now seeking to focus on container shipping, ports and logistics. Today's news marked the second step in the company's quest to split off its oil activities.
Last month it sold its oil business to France's Total for $7.5bn. Maersk said it will receive a consideration of $4.95bn in Total shares, while Total will assume $2.5bn of Maersk Oil's debt under the agreed terms. Total also offered the possibility of a seat on its board to AP Moller Holding.
That deal is set to close in the first quarter of 2018, subject to approval.