Belgium’s Euronav is taking a stand against its largest shareholder, Compagnie Maritime Belge (CMB), and has urged investors to reject the Saverys family vehicle’s three board nominees at the upcoming annual general meeting.
CMB, which has opposed the merger of the tanker giant with John Fredriksen’s Frontline, has been strengthening its foothold in the Antwerp-based business and now holds over 16%, ahead of Fredriksen’s 10.9%. CMB has been in control of Euronav since 1997.
Euronav and Frontline plan to combine their fleets in an all-share deal to create Europe’s largest tanker firm, in which Fredriksen will hold a leading stake once the deal is approved. The $4.2bn entity would be called Frontline, and be headed by Euronav’s CEO, Hugo De Stoop.
De Stoop suggested earlier that the Saverys would probably vote against the three proposed names up for reappointment and come up with their own candidates. “If they do, I imagine they will do everything they can to scuttle the Frontline project. They will have to propose their plan to merge with CMB Tech, which will also require a 75% majority, what I would be saddened by is if we did nothing,” De Stoop remarked.
Commenting on CMB’s proposal, Euronav said in a statement that the lack of independence of the CMB candidates would weaken the board profile and threaten to bring conflicts of interest into the boardroom. “If elected to the supervisory board, these candidates would be unable to offer an unbiased opinion on any future scenario for Euronav. They represent the position of a single shareholder who has publicly voiced its opposition to the previously announced combination with Frontline,” it said.
The company further added that the directors proposed by CMB “do not offer relevant additional skills, diversity, or experience that are not already represented on the supervisory board” and reaffirmed its confidence in the current board composition, including its independent director, Steven Smith, a former Gener8 director, whom it proposes to appoint at the next AGM on May 19.