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By Ole Mikkelsen

COPENHAGEN, Dec 17 (Reuters) - The foundation that controlsDanish oil and shipping group A.P. Moller-Maersk isto transfer its stake in the business to a new holding company to boost the group’s financial flexibility.

A.P. Moller Foundation is controlled by the Maersk family but is obliged to use all dividends it receives from theshipping group for donations to benefit the public in countriesacross the Nordic region.

However, by moving the 41.51 percent shareholding and its51.09 percent of all A.P. Moller-Maersk voting rights into A.P.Moller Holding, it will be able to keep back funds as a cashreserve to be used by the shipping business.

“With the establishment of the holding company the A.P.Moller Foundation wants to secure and strengthen its activeownership and provide financial flexibility and a financialbuffer for the whole group,” the foundation’s chairman AneMaersk Mc-Kinney Uggla said in a statement on Tuesday.

Sydbank shipping analyst Jacob Pedersen welcomed the move,saying that it will provide better control of cashflow to thefoundation.

The group’s 2012 dividend payout totalled 5.28 billionDanish crowns ($972 million).

A.P. Moller-Maersk owns Maersk Line, the world’s largestcontainer shipping company, but is also active in oil drillingand transportation and is behind three supermarket chains with atotal of more than 1,200 outlets in Denmark, Sweden, Germany andPoland.

A.P. Moller Foundation said that the new holding companywill continue to observe the foundation trust deed by supportingcooperation between Denmark and the other Nordic countries,promoting Danish shipping and industry and supporting scienceand good causes.

Among last year’s contributions was a 2.3 billion crowndonation for a new opera house in Copenhagen. ($1 = 5.4335 Danish crowns)