AP Moller-Maersk will bank close to $1bn after agreeing a sale of its refrigerated container making business.

Maersk Container Industry (MCI) is being acquired by rival China International Marine Containers (CIMC) for $987.3m.

Maersk said MCI will become part of a "market-leading company in the container equipment industry".

The deal is for the whole organisation whose assets include the reefer factory in Qingdao, as well as research, development and test engineering facilities in Tinglev, Denmark.

The transaction is subject to regulatory approvals, but is expected to close in or before 2022.

"We believe that ... in CIMC [we] have found a good long-term owner of MCI," said Henriette Hallberg Thygesen, chief executive of fleet and strategic brands at Maersk.

The divestment is part of the group's business transformation, where focus is on being an integrated container transport and logistics company, she added.

Strategic fit

"While strengthening the synergies between the core businesses of our global integrator offering, we have reviewed the strategic fit of MCI and decided to find a new home for MCI that can ensure that the company continues to grow its reefer business through continued development and committed investments from a new owner," Hallberg Thygesen said.

Maersk has worked closely with CIMC for more than 30 years.

MCI was founded in 1991. In March, sources told Bloomberg that the Danish giant was examining a potential $1bn sale of the refrigerated container business, which Maersk did not deny.

Demand for MCI's reefer boxes soared during the Covid-19 pandemic as trade flows and container movements were disrupted.

Record profit in 2020

In May, the group admitted it was carrying out a strategic review of the business.

MCI posted record Ebitda of $77m in 2020, compared to $29m the year before.

The company has 2,200 employees and a network of more than 400 service providers.

CIMC is listed in Shenzhen and in Hong Kong.

Mai Boliang, chairman and CEO of CIMC, said: "By leveraging technology and innovation we want to create a new growth platform within cold chain. I look forward to welcoming MCI as I am very impressed by the company's results and innovation."

CIMC employs more than 64,000 people in nearly 20 countries.