CNBC Interview with Moller-Maersk CEO Soren Skou from the World Economic Forum 2018

Following are excerpts from a CNBC interview with Soren Skou, Moller-Maersk CEO, and CNBC's Akiko Fujita from the World Economic Forum 2018.

AF: And we are joined here on set by Soren Skou, who is CEO of Moller-Maersk. Great to have you on today.

SS: Thank you.

AF: So, we were just hearing from Canadian Prime Minister, Justin Trudeau, there, talking about the TPP being finalized, just a few days ago here. There's no question, when you think about what we've heard from global leaders here so far, it is, in a way, the rebuttal to what we've heard coming out of the White House, the America First policy. We heard the Prime Minister, Narendra Modi, yesterday, saying that those who are against globalization are rearing their heads. What is your expectation for President Trump? What he will likely say on Friday? And what should he say, given the audience here?

SS: Well, first of all, it's very important for me to say that, over the last 30, 40 years, global trade has created enormous economic growth, jobs, income, consumption, opportunities, and we all get richer when we trade with each other.

AF: Mm.

SS: Clearly, we also have a situation where some parts of the populations, around in different countries, are not feeling that they are part of the-, part of the journey, and we have to make sure that every party are brought along on the globalization journey, but, stopping globalization does not, in my view, make any sense.

AF: Mm. It's interesting, we heard Gary Cohn, over at the White House today, saying that America First doesn't necessarily mean America alone. Perhaps, you know, offering a contrasting view here. Let me shift gears here a bit, because you've been really focused on digitizing the business. Last week, you announced a joint venture with IBM, to incorporate blockchain technology. What applications, specifically, are you looking at right now?

SS: Well, the global container trade, which carry probably around 65% of all goods that are transported around the world, has-, has done enormous efforts, in the last 30 years, to reduce the cost of the physical movement of goods. Today, it costs hardly anything to move consumer goods from one end of the world to the other.

AF: Mm.

SS: But, the whole paperwork side of the business is still pretty analogue, and almost arcane, and, with our joint venture with IBM, we hope to do two things. First of all, we do hope to-, to be able to digitize the paper flow. The physical bill of ladings, and so on, that we still use to this day. And, secondly, we hope to create a platform that provides much better-, much better visibility for the supply chain, for the shippers.

AF: And this, of course, comes on the back of the Petya cyberattack last year, you know, looking at how much it cost the company, roughly $300 million. You've talked about the blockchain technology. What other ways have you adjusted your operations, in light of what happened last year?
SS: So, first of all, in terms of the cyberattack, we have done, really, three things. We have built our defenses higher, quite clearly. Secondly, we have completely revamped our global network, so that a successful attack will have a much harder time bringing down the whole company. And thirdly, we have also significantly improved our ability to restore, in the event of a successful cyberattack. The most important for A.P. Moller-Maersk today is to-, to digitize, and we do have an agenda of, first of all, digitizing transactions with our customers, the joint venture with IBM is a step in that direction. We are also digitizing the way we operate the ships, the cranes, the containers. And-, and finally, we do hope that we will be able to create new businesses, out of all of the data that we own.

AF: Speaking of digitization, I mean, you had an op-ed last week, talking about just how that experience could shift. You likened it to ecommerce. Help us understand what that vision is, 10 to 20 years down the line.

SS: Well, just two to three years down the line, we would like to have made global container shipping as easy to do for our customers, as it is for-, for all consumers today to order an airline ticket. We think that there is plenty of opportunity for improving the customer experience in container shipping.

AF: Mm.

SS: But, longer-term, there are some issues we haven't solved in our industry, in terms of visibility, in terms of asset productivity, which we believe, you know, digitizing, or connecting our assets, will-, will be able to help us on.

AF: Okay, we'll have to leave it on that note, great to have you on today, joining us from Moller-Maersk.

ENDS