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Arnold Mærsk Mc-Kinney Møller (born 13 July 1913) is a Danish shipping magnate and a billionaire.

Contents

Personal life

Møller is the son of Arnold Peter Møller – founder of the A. P. Moller-Maersk Group – and an American, Chastine Estelle Roberta Mc-Kinney. He was married to his high-school sweetheart Emma Neergaard Rasmussen from 1940 until her death in 2005. They have three daughters: Leise Mærsk Mc-Kinney Møller (born 1941), Kirsten Mærsk Mc-Kinney Olufsen (born 1944), and Ane Mærsk Mc-Kinney Uggla (born 1950).

Business Activities

A. P. Møller-Mærsk headquarters at Copenhagen harbour

Møller became a partner in the A. P. Moller-Maersk Group in 1940. When Denmark was occupied by Germany during World War II Møller went into exile in the United States and ran the family business from New York until his return to Denmark in 1947. Møller became CEO and chairman on his father's death in 1965.

For details on his activities, see History of Maersk#1965 - 1993: Mærsk Mc-Kinney Møller takes the helm.

In 1970, Møller became the first non-American member of the board of IBM, a position he held until 1984.

Møller stepped down as CEO in 1993 in favor of Jess Søderberg, but stayed on as chairman of the board until 2003 when – age 90 – he retired completely. He still personally controls a substantial portion of the company's shares. He is generally considered one of the most respected industrialists in Denmark, even admired by many.

He is currently Denmark's second-richest man after Kjeld Kirk Kristiansen, according to Forbes List of Billionaires 2007.[1] This is disputed by the Danish financial magazine Berlingske Nyhedsmagasin, which places Møller as number one in Denmark and estimates his fortune in 2006 as 141.2 billion DKK, and his personal wealth to 7.0 billion DKK. Most of Møller's fortune is placed in foundations controlling the A. P. Moller-Maersk Group, in which he holds a controlling interest.[2]

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North Sea oil

In 1962, A.P. Møller-Mærsk A/S was granted concession to survey and exploit oil and natural gas resources below Denmark, rendering a monopoly-like status to Maersk. The 40 year agreement was renewed in 2003, causing some discussion. The levy paid to the state is not influenced by fluctuating oil prices, meaning Maersk can get a much larger profit in times with high oil prices. Also, the levy is just 69 percent, while Norway has 80 percent, and Britain raised the oil levy in 2006 because of high prices. According to the newspaper Information on 4 November 2007, the oil price since the agreement of 2003 had risen from 22 to 96 USD per barrel, meaning the company would in forty years not just earn the expected profit of 87 billion kroner, but 346 billion kroner.[1] Government parties have however declined to change the agreement or raise the oil levy.

The oil and gas is reclaimed by Mærsks Olie og Gas A/S and Dansk Undergrunds Consortium (DUC), owned by A.P. Møller-Mærsk A/S (39%), a subcompany of Royal Dutch Shell (46%) and Chevron Denmark Inc. (15%).

The A.P. Møller-Mærsk company is a major contributor to the Conservative People's Party and Venstre, the two parties forming Denmark's governing coalition since 2001. Smaller contributions have been paid to other right-of-centre parties, including Radikale Venstre, the Danish People's Party, and formerly the Centre Democrats and the Progress Party. Under Danish law, parties must disclose who have made contributions in exceed of 20,000 kroner, but the actual amount is not made public. According to an analysis from students at Aalborg University, A.P. Møller had also paid for a report which was the basis for the government's decision on the oil levy agreement.[2]

Donations

The Copenhagen Opera at the harbour

Through two large family-controlled foundations Møller has made substantial donations to causes both in Denmark and abroad. One of the more public and controversial gifts was the new Copenhagen Opera House directly across the harbour from the royal residence, Amalienborg Palace, and within sight from his corporate headquarters. He also donated Amaliehaven, a park between the Palace and the harbour. Other gifts include major donations to restore the frigate Jylland, to The Old Town, Aarhus, for the Rembrandt exhibition at Statens Museum for Kunst; for renovations at Kastellet, for a new high school in Schleswig, Germany (for the Danish minority), for the Ansgar Church for the Danish minority in Flensburg, Germany, and for The Møller Centre for Continuing Education at Churchill College, Cambridge.

Møller is a knight of the Danish Order of the Elephant; he is the only person who is neither royal nor a head of state to currently hold this honour (the nuclear physicist Niels Bohr held the same order), which grants him the title His Excellency. He was granted the order on 15 December 2000, four months after he announced the donation for the new Opera. Møller has close personal ties with Queen Margrethe II and the royal house.

Critique

Møller is known to interfere personally in the details of his donation projects. In the case of the Opera, Møller hired one of the most famous contemporary Danish architects, Henning Larsen, but Møller's personal demands for the building were a source of constant conflict between him and the architect. In 2009 Henning Larsen has published a book with details of the process.[3] Larsen revealed that Møller took a great interest in many details, such as the restrooms, but as a result, they were modelled after Møller's longer-than-average legs, meaning the toilets were rather too high for the general public. According to Larsen, this was also the case at The Møller Centre for Continuing Education at Churchill College, Cambridge, another building Larsen had designed for Møller's foundation.[4]

Møller opposed public discussion about the Opera project and declined to let the Copenhagen city authorities get a saying. At an autumn 2001 public meeting of Copenhagen citizens discussing the proposed local area plan to allow the building, Møller's spokesman for the Opera project, Bo Wildfang, stated:

'The public has no right to interfere with the design or interior of the Opera house. Mærsk Mc-Kinney Møller has made it clear that he pays for the house, and he owns the land on which the Opera house will be built. Thus he will fully decide over the design of project. The Opera is a gift, not a gift voucher.'

The Danish press, as well as the German newspapers Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung[5] and Süddeutsche Zeitung, criticised this attitude because it excluded the state and its democratic representatives from the process.[6]

On 6 November 2002 Ekstra Bladet claimed that the tax allowances deducted from the project were bigger than the actual costs, meaning that Møller and his company would earn a net gain. This was, however, repudiated by spokespeople of the company, but it is generally acknowledged that the Danish state co-financed a great part of the project by way of favourable tax rules for philanthropic foundations. Above that, Maersk managed to have the Opera project become VAT exempt by a special request to the government. The current operation of the Opera is paid for by the Danish state (100 million kroner annually) and the city of Copenhagen (40 million kroner annually).[7]

References

  1. ^ Staten går glip af oliefesten, Information, 4 November 2007 (in Danish)
  2. ^ Martin Nørby, Morten Lehmann Rasmussen, Peter Stærk Buksti, Lau Aaen: A.P. Møller og olien i Nordsøen (A. P. Møller and the North Sea oil), 2004 (in Danish)
  3. ^ Opera architect lashes out at Maersk, Copenhagen Post, 27 November 2009
  4. ^ Han trækker bukserne af McKinney Møller, Ekstra Bladet, 27 November 2009 (in Danish)
  5. ^ Bei Nacht ist auch diese Katze schön, Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung, 17 January 2005 (in German)
  6. ^ Debat og kritik af Operaen før indvielsen, faktalink.dk (in Danish)
  7. ^ Mærsk Mc-Kinney bestemte alt i Operaen, Politiken, 18 September 2004 (in Danish)

External links


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