Fredriksen and the Saverys’ continue to build their shareholdings in Euronav

It’s two weeks today until a pivotal annual general meeting that will decide the future of Europe’s largest tanker company, pitching two of the continent’s most famous shipping families in a battle for hearts and minds of shareholders.

John Fredriksen knows he is in a fight to wrestle Euronav away from the Saverys family, the two parties setting out their visions for the Belgian shipping firm over the past month while also building up their own stakes in the company.

Latest stock market fillings show both contenders have raised their stakes in Euronav, with Fredriksen now holding a 12.01% stake in the firm and the Saverys family building its leading holding to 17.48%.

For Fredriksen, he sees a combination of his tanker firm Frontline with Euronav as a market leader in the tanker market and positions the combined group for continued shareholder value creation in addition to significant synergies.

Fredriksen’s move, first revealed on April 7, was swiftly knocked back by the Saverys family who first took control of Euronav in 1997. Alex Saverys, the CEO of Compagnie Maritime Belge (CMB), has since outlined his vision for Euronav, essentially moving it away from its crude tanker origins to focus more on green energy.

Clarksons data indicates the combined entity would control 7% of world VLCC fleet capacity in dwt terms, 8.5% of world crude suezmax fleet capacity and 4.4% of world coated LR2 fleet capacity.

Shareholders will vote on the merger on May 19 at Euronav’s AGM. Both board of directors at Frontline and Euronav have approved the combination.

If the merger is approved, the entity would be called Frontline, and be headed by Euronav’s CEO, Hugo De Stoop and based in Antwerp.

Not content with moving for Euronav, Fredriksen has also made a big play for US-based International Seaways in recent weeks, building up a sizeable 16% stake in the company.

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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