Tuesday, April 17, 2012

What's In A Name?

The obituary headline took me a bit by surprise. There were so many names, and hyphenated names in the person's name that I thought a company had passed away. "Maersk
Mc-Kinney Moeller, Dies at 98." Surely the plaque fell off the building where the famous law firm was housed for close to a century?

Of course this wasn't the case, but it was another case of realizing a somewhat familiar name actually belonged to someone who signed checks.  Ferdinand Porsche, Clarence Frank Birdseye II, people's names that have became part of the vocabulary. Anytime spent near a major port and the name Maersk could be seen everywhere, on ships, and containerized cargo, on trucks, anywhere where something was shipped and received.

And here's the best part, Maersk was the guy's first name, a Danish shipping magnate who ran a company started by his grandfather in 1904, the year my old high school was built. It's still standing as well.

Maersk apparently didn't go into the sunset after a longtime away from the company. He still came to work daily, even after resigning as chairman in 2003, and was at the company's board annual board meeting last Thursday.

He had a tradition of giving everyone in the world-wide company a piece of Danish pastry on July 13, his birthday. But perhaps counter to the adage that a rising tide lifts all ships, his passing was seen as good news on the financial front, as Maersk's shares rose 1.2%, retreating from a 5% gain earlier in the day.

Apparently, investors are hoping for a change in strategy that might produce more profits and less pastry. His youngest daughter, 63 year-old Ane Maersk Mc-Kinney Uggla is expected to take over as the chairman of the foundation that holds the majority of the shares of the company.

Ms. Uggla's name is even longer than his. The fate of Danish pastry tradition is not known, but if she lives as long as her father, in all great statistical likelihood I won't get to read her name in an obituary.


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