Danish tanker and bunker tycoon Torben Ostergaard-Nielsen has secured the future of his empire by bringing in his daughters as co-owners.

Nina Ostergaard Borris and Mia Ostergaard Nielsen represent the next generation of management at Middelfart-based United Shipping & Trading Co (USTC).

Their co-ownership comes through their new one-third stakes in parent company Selfinvest Family Office.

It is planned that in the future they will take even greater part in the active ownership of the worldwide group, with activities in oil, shipping, transport and logistics as well as IT, cars and investment.

The succession has its origins in a decision in 2017 to keep ownership in the family.

"You could say that we made the most important decision back in 2017, when Nina and Mia made it clear that they want to be an important part of the group’s future. Since then, we’ve worked determinedly in accordance with the established plans, both on their development in and outside the group and on the formal part surrounding a succession," said Ostergaard-Nielsen.

Ostergaard-Nielsen still heads the group and holds the controlling class A shares.

"I still have no plans either to reduce my workload or retire. But it gives us peace of mind to get this important step in place, not just for us as an owner family, but also for our employees and other stakeholders worldwide," he added.

'Financial strength'

Mia Ostergaard Nielsen is now a co-owner of USTC. Photo: USTC

"I’m first and foremost pleased that the group has the financial strength to implement a costly succession process. And now that this step is in place, we can again focus fully on the group’s general growth and development plans."

In January, Nina Ostergaard Borris, 36, was appointed the group's new chief operating officer, joining the executive board.

For the past six years, she had been executive assistant and head of mergers and acquisitions at fuel supplier Bunker Holding, USTC's largest business unit.

In parallel, Ostergaard Borris has served as a board member in sister companies SDK, a shipping and logistics company, and tanker arm Uni-Tankers, as well as the parent USTC. These directorships continue unchanged.

She is now responsible for business optimisation and development of the group’s operating companies in close cooperation with the companies’ executive boards and her father, USTC said.

Great humility

"It’s with a great deal of humility that we now become co-owners to continue everything that has been built up and that we know so well," said Ostergaard Borris.

USTC owner Torben Ostergaard-Nielsen is pictured here with daughters Nina Ostergaard Borris (left) and Mia Ostergaard Nielsen (centre). Photo: USTC

Mia, the younger daughter at 30, is continuing her development outside USTC in line with the established plans, and has just been promoted to associate with the executive search and leadership consulting firm Spencer Stuart.

She also takes an active part in the USTC group, where she is a member of Bunker Holding’s board of directors and of the council of owners.

Raised in the group culture

"We’ve been raised in the group in every way and we’re aware of the responsibility that it entails to take over and continue the active ownership," she said.

The bunkering and shipping giant has a turnover of $11bn, with more than 2,500 employees in 101 offices in 32 countries worldwide.

USTC owner Torben Ostergaard-Nielsen's daughters Nina Ostergaard Borris (left) and Mia Ostergaard Nielsen (right) are coming off the bench to take joint control. Photo: USTC

Last year Uni-Tankers came once more under the sole control of USTC after the exit of Danske Bank as co-owner.

It has a fleet of 42 oil and chemical tankers with a capacity of up to 25,000 dwt. Of these, 17 are owned.

Torben Ostergaard-Nielsen received death threats last year over news reports linking his Dan-Bunkering to deliveries of jet fuel to Syria. USTC has denied any wrongdoing.

The tycoon said he had to bring in security personnel at his house.