Norwegian shipping tycoon John Fredriksen, hailed today as shipping’s Warren Buffet, continues to increase his ownership interest in rival tanker company Euronav, coming out today as the largest shareholder in the bluechip shipping stock. The swift extra investment comes just days after Splash reported on the 77-year-old becoming the second largest shareholder of the Antwerp-based company.
According to the latest US Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) filing, Fredriksen’s companies hold around 19.85m shares, corresponding to an ownership interest of 9.8% in the New York-listed tanker company.
The Euronav stocks on Wednesday closed at $10.16, giving Fredriksen’s shareholding a value of close to $202m. The shares were purchased through Famatown Finance, with an address in Cyprus through Seatankers Management, a private group that looks after Fredriksen’s investments.
On Monday, Euronav announced that Fredriksen had acquired a 5.5% stake in the company, leading to potential merger speculation.
He is the Warren Buffet of shipping so the move itself will see others follow
The brokerage house Clarksons Platou issued an update on Monday stating: “This will probably lead to merger speculation between Frontline and Euronav (the combined fleet of VLCCs will correspond to around 8% market share).”
The move also comes as many analysts are advising investors now is the time to catch the sector on the rebound. A report from brokers Arrow yesterday, for instance, stated: “We believe the worst is behind us and the medium to long term prospects are improving. The next 6-9 months should prove an opportune time to invest in the tanker sector.”
Fredriksen, who also holds around 40% in Frontline, has been a canny tanker investor throughout his career, Peter Sand, BIMCO’s chief shipping analyst, told Splash today.
“Size does matter in every single way for him – that’s still the case, it seems. Even when facing headwinds during the past decade, he’s been flexing his muscles and he has resurfaced,” Sand said, going on to compare him to the legendary US founder of Berkshire Hathaway. “He is the Warren Buffet of shipping, so the move itself will see others follow,” Sand suggested.