Maersk shares rose more than 10 percent on the news with investors speculating on a break-up of the company and seeing the appointment as a sign of a more profound restructuring.
"The question is whether we should be a large group, or whether we should be a number of independent companies," Chairman Michael Pram Rasmussen told Danish online media Finans.
He was speaking after company veteran Skou, 51, was appointed to replace Nils Smedegaard Andersen as group chief executive. Andersen had been in the job since 2007.
Skou will begin in his new role on July 1, while remaining the head of Maersk Line, the company said in a statement. Andersen will leave the group, it said.
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