The main shareholder and the chairman of Danish shipping group A.P. Moller-Maersk both gave their backing to management’s efforts to reshape the business. Photo: File

INTERNATIONAL - The main shareholder and the chairman of Danish shipping group A.P. Moller-Maersk both gave their backing on Tuesday to management’s efforts to reshape the business.

The company is a “supertanker” that takes a long time to turn around, Ane Maersk Mc-Kinney Uggla, chairwoman of the A.P. Moller Foundation, which owns a controlling stake in the company, told reporters before Tuesday’s annual general meeting.

“It’s been a tough year, but there have also been many good things in our transformation,” she added. She declined to set a date for when the turnaround should be done.

The world’s largest container shipper has struggled to convince some of its investors about a major restructuring plan announced in September 2016 to review its sprawling businesses and refocus efforts into transport and logistics.

Shares in Maersk, led by Chief Executive Soren Skou since June 2016, have drifted 7 percent lower over the past year.

The company warned in February that growth in the number of shipping containers being moved around the world would deteriorate further this year due to the trade war between the United States and China.

Maersk board chairman Jim Hagemann Snabe said external factors were the reason that 2018 was not financially satisfying despite progress.

“We are seeing signs that the transformation has begun to work,” Snabe told the shareholders gathered in Copenhagen. “We’ve seen a very positive development in customer satisfaction,” he added.

He said the company would hold back on dividends for now as it aims to become financially strong, but that it would assess in August whether it would pay out an extraordinary dividend.

The company is one notch away from junk status by ratings agency Moody’s. It has faced a series of setbacks including last week abandoning plans to sell its offshore services business.

In 2017, Maersk sold its oil exploration and production business to French oil major Total.

On Thursday it will separately list its offshore drilling operation on the Copenhagen stock exchange.

Reuters