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Maersk COO Søren Toft steps down effective immediately. Did he quit?

PortandTerminal.com, November 11, 2019

After overseeing the Hamburg Süd acquisition, Maersk chief operating officer Søren Toft is going to pursue outside opportunities. Søren Skou to pick up COO role until a replacement is found

COPENHAGEN, DENMARK – Maersk’s press release doesn’t reveal much about the sudden departure that was announced today of its COO, Søren Toft. The press release burbles the usual “pursuing other opportunities” etc which is the corporate world’s equivalent to “wants to spend more time with his family” that we have grown accustomed to reading about when a major politician steps down.

Did he quit? One industry publication, TradeWinds has run the headline “Maersk hunts new operating chief as Soren Toft quits” so yes, there is speculation that he may have.

Such a sudden and senior departure is rare to be sure. Did he quit or was he pushed? For someone of Mr Toft’s stature, the answer to that question is important as it gives insight into the plans and manoeuvring of Maersk, the world’s largest shipping line.

For what it is worth, here’s what Maersk had to say about the immediate departure of their COO, Søren Toft:

Chief Operating Officer in A.P. Møller – Mærsk A/S, Søren Toft has decided to pursue an opportunity outside of the company and will leave effective today. 

Maersk Press Release announcing Søren Toft‘s departure from the company

Toft’s responsibilities as COO will be taken on by Søren Skou, Maerk’s CEO, effectively immediately until a replacement is found.

Toft also served as Chairman of Maersk Container Industry and Board Member of Hamburg Süd Advisory Board.

Toft started in the COO role in 2014 after previously holding the position of Head of Network Planning at Maersk Line. During his time as COO, Toft was responsible for the global operations of Maersk’s liner businesses and oversaw Maersk’s acquisition and integration of Hamburg Süd.

Søren Toft oversaw Maersk’s acquisition and integration of Hamburg Süd

Other notable events occurring during his tenure included the 2M Alliance launch with MSC, the 2016 reorganization of A.P. Møller – Mærsk, the delivery of Maersk’s second-generation Triple-E vessels and other newbuild programs, the Maersk Honam incident, and most recently Maersk’s decarbonization efforts.

“I have worked with Søren for many years, and I appreciate Søren’s many contributions to A.P. Moller – Maersk. He leaves an agile and strong operating organization and we all wish Søren the very best in the future,” says Søren Skou, CEO of A.P. Moller – Maersk.

For now, the reason a talented and senior executive such as Mr. Toft has seemingly left Maersk so suddenly is unclear.

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