Euronav and Frontline merger saga to drag on into 2023

The proposed merger between European tanker giants Euronav and John Fredriksen-led Frontline has been delayed to next year.

In a quarterly earnings update today, Antwerp-headquartered Euronav said that the merger – already approved by both companies’ boards – is a “complex transaction” requiring a number of regulatory approvals from various authorities, hence the announcement to push back Frontline’s tender offer from the fourth quarter of this year, as originally outlined, into next year.

“The proposed combination with Frontline remains on track and we look forward to delivering a scalable and influential crude tanker platform,” insisted Hugo De Stoop, CEO of Euronav, today.

Frontline will relocate from Bermuda to Cyprus, a member state of the European Union, prior to the launch of the tender offer. This relocation of domicile requires Frontline shareholder approval and regulatory filings in Bermuda and Cyprus.

Once the relocation is approved by Frontline shareholders, the launch of the tender offer is expected. After the Belgian and US offering documents related to such tender offer have been filed, approved and/or declared effective, the acceptance period of such tender offer will be opened, which is now expected to take place in Q1 2023.

“Following the results of the tender offer, a full legal merger may be pursued as soon as possible and proposed to the Frontline and Euronav shareholders’ meetings,” Euronav stated today. In the meantime, the parties said they will pursue all corporate and other steps necessary for the combination, despite ongoing attempts by the Saverys family to scupper the deal.

The Saverys’ have led Euronav for much of the past 25 years and have been determined to keep this jewel in the Antwerp shipping crown away from the hands of Fredriksen, offering shareholders a competing vision for how they see the future of Euronav.

Euronav posted a net profit of $16.4m in Q3 results announced today, against a loss of $105.9m in the same period last year.

Sam Chambers

Starting out with the Informa Group in 2000 in Hong Kong, Sam Chambers became editor of Maritime Asia magazine as well as East Asia Editor for the world’s oldest newspaper, Lloyd’s List. In 2005 he pursued a freelance career and wrote for a variety of titles including taking on the role of Asia Editor at Seatrade magazine and China correspondent for Supply Chain Asia. His work has also appeared in The Economist, The New York Times, The Sunday Times and The International Herald Tribune.
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