April 17 - Maersk Mc-Kinney Moller, who transformed his Danish family shipping business into the world's biggest container shipping company and arguably the most important force in world shipping, passed away yesterday at the age of 98.

"On behalf of the entire family, I wish to express our deep sorrow at the loss of our father, grandfather and great grandfather, Maersk Mc-Kinney Moller. My sisters and I have lost a father who never failed neither his family nor his business," his daughter Ms Ane Maersk Mc-Kinney Uggla said in a statement.

Mc-Kinney Moller ran Copenhagen-based A.P. Moller-Maersk A/S for 38 years before stepping down as Chairman in December 2003. He took over the closely-held company in 1965 after the death of his father, Arnold Peter Moller, who founded the business with one second-hand steamship in 1904.

His death removes a figure who, even since retiring as chairman in 2003, had been seen as exerting considerable influence as senior partner in A.P. Moller-Maersk.

Mc-Kinney Moller built the shipping company into a corporation with annual sales last year of USD60 billion - with reports indicating that is the equivalent to almost 20 percent of Denmark's gross domestic product - employing 108,000 people in more than 130 countries.

With the death of Mr Maersk Mc-Kinney Moller, the A.P. Moller-Maersk Group has lost a businessman of international format and the man who, if any, can take credit for the Group being among the world's leading and Denmark's undisputed largest business, with activities in a number of areas such as shipping, oil and retail.

At the time of his death, Maersk Mc-Kinney Moller was Chairman of the Board of the A.P. Moller and Chastine Mc-Kinney Moller Foundation, the A.P. Moller Relief Foundation, and the Maersk Employee Foundation, all of which are significant shareholders of A.P. Moller-Maersk.