Niels Smedegaard, Torben Carlsen, CEO, CFO, DFDS, appoint, management, chief executive, shipping, ferry, news
Niels Smedegaard (right) and Torben Carlsen (photo: DFDS)

DFDS changes its chief executive

Niels Smedegaard is to leave the ferry and shipping giant at the end of next month, to be replaced by Torben Carlsen.

Niels Smedegaard has resigned his position as chief executive of the Danish ferry and shipping giant DFDS and will depart at the end of April.

He is to be replaced by 53-year-old Torben Carlsen, who came to the company as chief financial officer in 2009. Smedegaard has been chief executive since January 1, 2010.

“Niels Smedegaard has been thinking about stopping for a while, but the decision itself was taken recently,” the company’s communications director, Gert Jakobsen, told, adding that he would be concentrating on his extensive work on company boards.

Smedegaard is currently chairman of the board of the Danish Shipowners’ Association Danske Rederier and the Bikuben Fund promoting opportunities for young people, as well as being on the boards of Interferry, Falck, the European Community Shipowners’ Association, the Denmark-America Foundation and the Nikolai and Felix Fund, the latter named after the Danish princes Nikolai and Felix.

Both Smedegaard and Carlsen have made DFDS a larger, stronger and more profitable company, the company maintains in a press release this morning.

“My time at DFDS has been a fantastic journey. I am proud of the progress that has been made for the company and its employees, customers and shareholders since I joined,” Smedegaard says in the release.

“It has been a difficult decision to say goodbye, but having been in charge for over 12 years the time has come to spend more of my energy and experience in board relationships. DFDS is extremely well positioned for the future and I safely leave the helm to Torben,” he continues.

Aviation background
Carlsen, meanwhile, has a broad and international management background. Before joining DFDS in 2009, he held senior positions in Switzerland and the US in the aviation sector.

He has among other things been CFO of the catering group Gate Gourmet, a strategy director at Swissair and manager of treasury and control at what was known as SAS Service Partner.

“I am proud of the trust the board shows me and am humble in the task,” he says. “I look forward to working with the other management, our talented colleagues and the board to continue the good development for DFDS based on the strategic plans we have put forward in close cooperation with the board.”

Headquartered in the Port of Copenhagen, DFDS plies around 30 routes in Europe with 50 freight and passenger ships with an annual turnover of approximately DKK 16 billion (€2.15 billion). About 80% of its revenue comes from freight and logistics.

More than five million passengers travel with DFDS each year, its biggest passenger route with accommodation being Copenhagen-Oslo with 775,000 passengers last year. But its biggest – and shortest – crossing is the English Channel between England and France with about 3.5 million annual passengers.

Related stories

DFDS approves expansion in Turkey

DFDS sails into ultra-gourmet territory

Nordic ferries suffer damning TV report