COPENHAGEN Dec 13 The world's biggest container
shipper A.P. Moller-Maersk may consider selling
assets or cutting dividends as it seeks to retain its credit
rating, the company said on Tuesday.
Maersk's Baa1 credit rating was put under review for a
downgrade by Moody's in September, after it announced it would
split up the company to focus on the shipping business and spin
off its energy assets.
Last month, Standard & Poor's lowered the company's credit
rating to BBB from BBB+ with a negative outlook.
"We would like to send a very clear message today that we
are committed to remain investment grade rated," Chief Executive
Soren Skou told investors at its capital markets day in
Copenhagen on Tuesday.
Cheap financing was a key argument of having a diversified
business, but as the Danish conglomerate is split up, it also
becomes more exposed to the cyclical changes in the shipping
Skou said the company aimed to reduce capital expenditure in
its transport and logistics division from around $6 billion this
year to $5.5 billion next year and $4 billion in 2018, while
keeping new investments in its energy business at a minimum.
Maersk's energy business accounted for more than one-third
of the company's EBITDA in the first nine months of the year.
"If it becomes necessary, we will also look at divestments
and other cash flow enhancing measures," Skou said.
"Finally, our board will also consider the dividend in line
with our policy," Skou said, noting that Maersk last reduced
annual dividends to shareholders in 2009.
In its first major deal since the restructuring was
announced in September, Maersk said this month it would buy
German rival Hamburg Süd in a cash deal, although it did not
disclose the value of the deal.
Maersk also said on Tuesday is targeting return on invested
capital in its transport and logistics business at above 8.5
percent while at the same time growing revenue.
(Reporting by Jacob Gronholt-Pedersen, editing by David Evans)