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Maersk Continues Distancing from Russia

Ocean liner A.P. Moller-Maersk continues to distance itself from business in Russia, but not first without recovering its containers.

CEO Soren Skou told Reuters Tuesday it is still calling at Russian ports in an effort to pick up some 50,000 cargo containers stuck in the country. It has also been trying to move them out by rail, with the CEO saying the majority of the containers are empty, according to the report.

“We need them, and we are very reluctant to leave them in Russia,” Skou told Reuters. “For this reason, we still have some port calls in Russia.”

It remains to be seen when business in Russia for Maersk resumes in the long run, with the CEO remaining firm on the company’s decision to turn away from the country following Russia’s attacks on Ukraine.

“We may not be able to return to doing business in Russia for many years to come,” Skou told Reuters. “This is a price we are both willing to and able to pay.”

Europe, Russia and the Baltics accounted for 2.6 percent of the company’s terminal business last year, according to Maersk’s annual report. Maersk, with a recent market cap of $386 billion, said revenue generated from Russia alone comprised 2.5 percent of the company’s overall $61.8 billion in 2021 revenue.

Maersk has taken a number of steps to distance itself from Russia, beginning with the March 1 halt on new bookings, with the exception of food and humanitarian aid, to and from Russia. The halt included goods movement by ocean, air and rail. The company in the days prior had also suspended new bookings to and from Ukraine due to instability in the area.

Other transportation companies that have temporarily stopped new bookings to and from Russia include CMA CGM, One Network Express (ONE), Hapag-Lloyd and Mediterranean Shipping Company (MSC).

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Last week Maersk’s APM Terminals said it would divest its 30.75 percent stake in Russian container terminal operator Global Ports Investments. Global Ports, which had 2021 revenue of $502.8 million, operates five Russian terminals and two in Finland.

Maersk lists in its 2021 annual report stakes of 31 percent each in joint ventures in First Container Terminal lnc. and Petrolesport Inc., both of which are Global Ports Russian terminals.

APM said in a statement it made the decision to divest its shares “following the invasion of Ukraine and the operational challenges.”

Global Ports said in its own statement APM representation would remain on its board and “fulfill its obligations towards the company until such divestment has been effectuated.”

Global Ports was started in 2008 by the Russian transportation company N-Trans and APM, with the two sharing controlling interests of 30.75 percent each in the joint venture. N-Trans later sold its stake in the business to Russian logistics and freight forwarding company Delo Group, which co-controlled Global Ports with APM.

It’s unclear if Moscow-based Delo Group would acquire APM’s shares or if APM has other plans for shedding the stake in the business, particularly given the current challenges around financial transactions in Russia.

Russia’s war on Ukraine also led to Global Ports’ stock being suspended from trading on the London Stock Exchange earlier this month in response to sanctions.