COPENHAGEN (Reuters) – Danish services provider ISS <ISS.CO> has hired Danske Bank’s <DANSKE.CO> Jacob Aarup-Andersen as chief executive to oversee the last leg of its switch towards a more simple company focusing on its biggest clients.
ISS is one of the world’s largest employers with more than 200,000 clients in 63 countries, having grown from a cleaning business into a global operation with services ranging from call centres to office cleaning, catering and security.
Aarup-Andersen will be joining as ISS is in the midst of a revamp to concentrate on fewer and bigger clients in an effort to boost sales and profit margins.
“I come from a world which is extremely customer-focused in the same way ISS is and I am used to working with big key accounts,” the 42-year-old told Reuters.
“There have been some operational ripples in recent years … but ISS fundamentally has the right strategy with this strong focus on facility services and key accounts.”
The company’s shares jumped on the news, gaining 13.9% to 108.9 Danish crowns by 1154 GMT.
However, the stock has shed roughly half its value over the past year, trading below its 2014 listing price of 160 crowns per share, with the company issuing several profit warnings.
Jefferies analysts noted that the hiring of a banker would ignite debate over whether the company could be taken private again.
Aarup-Andersen’s job of boosting profitability comes as the company also grapples with the fallout from the coronavirus pandemic, which has delivered a hefty blow to its airport, hotel and catering services as countries around the world imposed lockdowns to curb the outbreak.
However, ISS this month said that new opportunities are presented by higher demand for deep cleaning and the company is now offering so-called hygiene stewards to its customers.
Aarup-Andersen had been earmarked to take the helm of Danske Bank after the former CEO was ousted after the bank’s Estonian business bacame embroiled in a money laundering scandal, but he was rejected by the financial regulator because it deemed he had unsufficient banking experience.
Currently head of the lender’s Danish banking operation, Aarup-Andersen will replace outgoing ISS chief executive Jeff Gravenhorst at the start of September.
(Reporting by Stine Jacobsen; Editing by Emelia Sithole-Matarise and David Goodman)