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Denmark: Maersk Mc-Kinney Moeller dies aged 98

Maersk Mc-Kinney Moeller, an immensely rich and powerful Danish businessmen who transformed his family’s shipping company into the world’s largest, has died this Monday in Copenhagen. He was 98. The A. P. Moeller-Maersk Group, the conglomerate he led, announced the death.

Joining the company before World War II, Mr. Mc-Kinney Moeller oversaw its growth into a company that handled 15 percent of the world’s manufactured goods shipped by sea, according to industry estimates. He was instrumental in the company’s expansion into a conglomerate that at various times included an airline, supermarket chains, an information technology company, and industrial and agricultural concerns.

From time to time, he traded places with Kjeld Kirk Kristiansen, scion of the Lego fortune, as Denmark’s richest person. His company’s roots go back to his grandfather Peter Maersk Moeller, a sea captain who told his son, A. P. Moeller, "You shall be a shipowner." In 1904, the grandfather helped the son, then 28, form a steamship company whose assets consisted of one second hand ship. By 1912, the family owned three shipping companies.

Mr. Mc-Kinney Moeller came in as a second-generation scion to help lead the company into the new container-shipping era. He was chairman from 1965 to 2003, but with his family holding most of the company’s voting shares, he remained a strong voice in decision-making until his death.

Mr. Mc-Kinney Moeller became one of the country’s most respected citizens. Abroad, he was the first non-American named to I.B.M.’s board, a seat he held for 14 years. At home, he was made a knight of the Danish Order of the Elephant, one of the few Danes to receive that honor who was not a member of royalty or a head of state.

Maersk Mc-Kinney Moeller was born on July 13, 1913, in Copenhagen. His mother, Chastine Estelle Roberta McKinney, was born in Kentucky, and it was said he had considered himself half-American. He became a partner in the family company in 1940. By April of that year his father, worried that the Nazis would occupy Denmark, ordered the captains of the company’s 46 ships not to follow any orders received from home. He dispatched Maersk to New York, and the son ran the company from there during World War II. When his father died in 1965, Mr. Mc-Kinney Moeller became chief executive as well as chairman. Mr. Mc-Kinney Moeller, known as M.M.M. to his staff, was a very private man.

Mr. Mc-Kinney Moeller’s wife of 65 years, Emma, died in 2005. He is survived by his daughters, Ane Maersk Mc-Kinney Uggla, Leise Maersk Mc-Kinney Moeller and Kirsten Mc-Kinney Moeller Olufsen. Even after resigning as chairman in 2003, Mr. Mc-Kinney Moeller continued to come to the office each day, packing his lunch at home and climbing six flights of stairs to his office. And he continued to perform a birthday ritual: on July 13, each employee around the world received the gift of a Danish pastry.

Source: www.nytimes.com

Publication date: 4/17/2012


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