Moller-Maersk eyes demand pickup, to sell Danske Bank stake

Danish shipping and oil group Moller-Maersk said it would sell off its stake in Danske Bank after missing forecasts for 2014.

"Going forward, all our activities are within the industries of oil and oil services, and shipping and shipping infrastructure. In that sense it was a good and important move," Nils Andersen, CEO of Moller Maersk, told CNBC Wednesday.

However, the company – which is often viewed as a bellwether for global trade, with its status as the world's largest container shipping line - predicted a rise in global demand for containers this year. Moller-Maersk said that demand for seaborne containers would increase between 3 percent and 5 percent in 2015.

Shares in the company rose 6 percent in London following the release.

It came as it posted a rise in net profit to $5.2 billion for last year, from a figure of $3.8 billion last year, although this missed analyst expectations of $5.94 billion in a Reuters poll.

Jasper Julnen | Bloomberg | Getty Images

Revenue beat, however, rising to $47.57 billion last year, above estimates of $47.35 billion.

Revenue saw a boost from "higher container volumes at lower freight rates as well as higher oil entitlement production at a lower average oil price," the company said.

Its end-of-year earnings report, released Wednesday, also revealed that it is set to sell its 20 percent stake in the Danish lender Danske Bank. The proceeds - which could total $5.5 billion - will be given out to shareholders as dividend payments.

"We're distributing all the dividends directly. We have a very strong balance sheet - we don't need the cash. It will go directly to shareholders," Andersen added.

Looking ahead to 2015, the company projected net profit of "slightly below" $4 billion, which excluded the cash gained from the sale of its Danske Bank stake.

It said the estimates were subject to "considerable uncertainty" due to the weakness in oil prices and developments in the global economy. Its oil division expected a significantly lower underlying result for 2015 and said its "break even" was oil prices in the range of $55 to $60 a barrel.

"The recent substantial decline in oil price during the end of 2014 and the beginning of 2015, has led to reduced cash flows primarily from our oil and drilling operations," the company said in the report.

- By CNBC's Matt Clinch