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Shipping giant Maersk warns of slowing trade

AP Moeller-Maersk is searching for North Sea oil acquisitions

AP Moeller-Maersk is actively searching for North Sea oil acquisitions as the current drop in energy prices makes takeovers a better option than exploration, its chief executive said in an interview.

“We absolutely have appetite for acquisitions,” Nils Smedegaard Andersen said yesterday.

“We think it’s better to reduce spending on exploration and then focus more on acquisitions as a method to grow reserve,” he added.

Maersk’s oil unit is returning focus to its home waters, where it first started its operations in the 1960s. The company, which in recent decades expanded to countries including Algeria, Angola and Qatar, can find the best value in the tight chalk reservoirs of the North Sea, where it has a market-leading advantage with its oil-retrieving technologies, the chief executive said.

“There’s a lot of stuff for sale in the North Sea and some of it looks good, other things less so, but we’re looking at all of it to see what’s best to spend money on,” Andersen said.

“We perceive the North Sea as the area that matches our expertise the best way. Historically we have had a lot of success in the North Sea, both in exploration and in expansions, and we want to build on that.”

Possible targets may include Dong Energy A/S. Its owners, led by the Danish state and Goldman Sachs, may be getting closer to selling Dong’s oil and gas assets in the waters around Denmark, Norway and the UK. Andersen said he wouldn’t comment on whether Maersk Oil is interested in buying Dong’s exploration and production division.

Maersk yesterday said its ample cash reserve will allow it to buy back own stock for $1bn, its second such plan in one year.

The Original Posted by Christian Wienberg/Business World