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Money at work & the Concession

From his very early years, the founder of the A.P. Moller Group, A.P. Møller, was consistent in letters and speeches about his life and business ambitions; your actions should benefit the country and society as such.

This consistency forms ‘the spirit of A.P. Møller’; the business should be developed over time to have a positive impact on society while being kept well consolidated financially. Profits were important to continue the growth of the enterprise, whereas dividends were secondary.

The A.P. Moller Group has developed from a one-ship steamship company to a group of enterprises with global reach, and the following is part of that story.

“…Møller makes the money…”

As the tanker vessels increased in size to meet the growing demand for crude oil after 1945, the original Odense Steel Shipyard became too small. During the planning for the new shipyard at Lindø (near Odense), A.P. Møller wrote a letter to the union leader Hans Rasmussen where he elaborated on his motives for running a business:

“The French ship LONGCHAMP [just built at the shipyard] had on its funnel “M.T.P.” and I was told that as a joke the workers say that it means “Møller Tjener Pengene” (i.e. Møller makes the money).

It is probably not meant spitefully, but I can honestly say that I have never regarded my work that way. I believe money is a tool to be put to work. Some time ago the statement was made, by the Employers’ Federation I think, that nobody starts anything for idealistic reasons.

I feel that is quite wrong, and I am sure that many other entrepreneurs will agree with me. If not, our country and our lives would be much the poorer. Here and elsewhere.”

A.P. Møller, November 1958


Into energy

In the summer of 1962, when the Danish Government awarded the Sole Concession for exploration and production of hydrocarbons in the Danish subsoil to A.P. Møller, no one could imagine the future impact for the society and for the company.

It is safe to say that even A.P. Møller himself did not have the insight to see the full potential when story started in 1959; foreign interests showed interest in the rights to operate in Denmark, but A.P. Møller advised against it.

His motivation was to keep the rights and the business on Danish hands and soon realized that “having the ability also means accepting the duty”: In 1960, in a letter to the Prime Minister, A.P. Møller stated that

“…In the national interest, my organisation is willing to consider such action [drilling operations] and I ask the government to take this into account.”

Maersk Oil, and the offshore-related initiatives that followed, was not a strategic choice based on commercial motives.

A.P. Møller’s national sentiment led him to apply for the concession, partly without knowing the potential for hydrocarbon discoveries in the North Sea – which over time would form the basis for Maersk Oil’s success in oil and gas production, in Denmark and abroad.

“…Donations for generations to come”

The purpose of A.P. Moller Holding is to exercise the A.P. Moller Foundation’s role as an engaged owner to ensure that the Foundation can continue to contribute to society in the form of donations for generations to come.

This philanthropic role derives from A.P. Møller. From the late 1910’s and often very discreetly, A.P. Møller supported individuals and issues which were related to his sympathies for national causes. Throughout the years, several foundations were established to promote these causes.

The A.P. Moller Foundation started donating funds for larger projects in the late 1960’s and eventually the public interest focused on those projects; often, they were – and are – distinctive in their context, very visible, and broke new grounds when presented.

But as A.P. Møller did it from the beginning of his career, the Foundation has an eye for the local initiative where a relatively small donation makes a great difference.

At the death of A.P. Møller in 1965, Mærsk Mc-Kinney Møller assumed the chairmanship in the spirit of his father; today, Ane Uggla continues this work.