New book on Maersk Line

Post date: May 24, 2014 6:8:55 PM

"Creating Global Opportunities — Maersk Line in Containerisation 1973-2013" (Cambridge) by Chris Jephson and Henning Morgen covers A.P.Moller-Maersk's start in containerisation in the early 1970s, and describes its growth to be the world's largest container carrier.  

The review of the book in TradeWinds describes the takeover of P&O Nedlloyd as follows: 

"...Despite these warning signs, in 2005 Maersk offered to buy P&ONL, whose managers were called to assemble in London, where they were told their company had been bought. 'We were all completely dumbfounded,' remembers Tim Smith, P&ONL’s Asia-Pacific director. Another senior manager, Jeremy Nixon, adds: 'The wind really got knocked out of our sails. Maersk had been one of our biggest competitors; we had fought toe to toe in the east-west and north-south trades.'

"If being acquired was the first shock, it wasn’t the last. Bosses at P&ONL felt the merger did not appear to be beneficial to customers. Dutch manager Lucas Vos, who worked on integrating the lines’ service centres, believes that P&ONL was focused on providing good service, but argues: 'With Maersk Sealand [it was a case of] ‘we know the ideal way of shipping and as a customer, why don’t you adapt your processes round that?’'

"Integration was made more complex by the need to merge global IT operating systems. P&ONL’s Focus Four system was known to work, but it was deemed too risky to switch the entire Maersk business network over to it. Maersk’s new MGM organisation-wide platform was adopted, despite known shortcomings and being two years away from full development.

"The chief finance director at the time, Eivind Kolding — who went on to become Maersk Line chief executive in 2006 — believes the decision was right, but concedes that “our reputation was hurt a lot” by systems that were not ready for the extra volumes. 'Reputation-wise, that was a big blow to Maersk'."