Maersk invites government to North Sea amid takeover speculation

A.P. Moeller-Maersk has invited a Danish parliament committee to visit one of its North Sea oil fields amid speculation the company wants to buy a state-controlled energy unit operating in the same area.

Maersk is offering members of the Business, Growth and Export Committee to participate in a two-day field trip, “because it has been some years since the committee made its latest visit,” according to the letter, which is dated Sept. 30 and was published on the parliament’s website.

Analysts at Nordea and Sydbank have identified Maersk as a potential buyer of Dong Energy’s exploration and production unit. The division will probably be put up for sale in connection with a planned initial public offering of the utility, in which the state holds a 59 percent stake. Denmark has given itself 1 1/2 years to push through the IPO.

Maersk Chief Executive Officer Nils Smedegaard Andersen has said he targets takeovers of North Sea energy assets for the company’s oil unit. Dong Energy produces oil and gas from fields offshore Denmark, Norway and the U.K.

Mikkel Elbek Linnet, a Maersk spokesman, said the company won’t comment on whether it’s interested in buying the Dong unit, citing a policy not to comment on speculation.

“We regularly invite the Business, Growth and Export Committee on company trips to the North Sea and have chosen to forward the invitation at the current time because the last visit took place several years ago and the composition of the committee has since then changed in a number of places,” he said by e-mail.

The Sept. 30 letter, signed by Maersk’s head of public affairs Anders Würtzen, proposes that the committee meet for dinner in the Danish western city of Esbjerg and fly out the next day to a field operated by Maersk under its DUC partnership with Chevron and Shell.

Morten Bødskov, the chairman of the committee, said that he was aware of the invitation and that a decision on whether to accept it will be made at a later stage.

The committee is made up of 29 of the 179 lawmakers in Denmark’s parliament. Part of its job description is to visit Danish businesses and to go on field trips. It usually receives most invitations from businesses up to the October start of parliament’s new calendar year.

  

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