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Euronav Proposed Compromise to Add Saverys and Fredriksen to Board

Euronav
Euronav is proposing a compromise between its two shareholders (Euronav)

Published Feb 13, 2023 5:50 PM by The Maritime Executive

Euronav formalized its proposal for a way forward to stabilize the feud between John Fredriksen and the Saverys family by providing both with representation while also maintaining stability in its supervisory board. The tanker operator is calling on shareholders to put representatives from both shareholders on the board while rejecting the broader effort to replace the current board. This comes as the company works to focus on its operations and demonstrate its path forward against the calls for a new strategy.

The Supervisory Board announced their recommendations for the upcoming special shareholder meeting. Euronav is proposing to add four seats to the board with two going to Marc Saverys and Patrick De Brabandere to represent Compagnie Maritime Belge (CMB) and the other two going to John Fredriksen and Cato Stonex, which Famatowen Finance said on Friday it would propose for the board. According to Euronav, this structure would “proportionately represent the current shareholding structure.”

They are also calling for the shareholders to reject the three other candidates proposed by CMB and the efforts to unseat the current members of the supervisory board. Euronav says that CMB has declined to participate in the required interview process under Belgian security law. “It is important to note that CMB’s candidate Supervisory Board members do not meet the independence requirements,” asserts Euronav in its statement.

As a further incentive for the shareholders to support the compromise, Euronav notes its annual general meeting is two months after the special meeting and that two board members are due to end their term at that meeting. They suggest the board review independent directors and propose new qualified individuals for election at the annual meeting.

“The current independent Supervisory Board reflects a diverse range of experiences, skills, and backgrounds. Each member is independent in the meaning of the Belgian company law and the Belgian corporate governance code and each has been selected in accordance with such legislation,” said Euronav in its statement. “This diverse skill set is enhanced both by new perspectives acquired through continuous strategy and business development processes as well as the industry and company-specific expertise of Euronav’s directors. Collectively, Euronav’s existing long-tenured directors have guided Euronav through opportunities and challenges posed by the tanker industry’s extended business cycles, decarbonization, and the energy transition.”

The company points to its strong financial performance in 2022 as well as its net zero strategy for
decarbonization validation of the governance and forward-thinking strategy of the board. Last week, in their statement the Saverys called for a longer-term strategy of diversification and decarbonization to reshape the company.

As another example of the company’s efforts to enhance performance and reduce emissions a Belgian start-up company, Toqua founded in 2020, reported that it is implementing a fleet-wide voyage optimization system that can double the fuel saving through techniques including improved weather routing and vessel management. 

“The better a performance model can estimate the impact of wave height, wave angle, wind speed, wind angle, currents, etc. on the speed-fuel relationship for a specific ship, the better the routing algorithm on top of it can optimize to minimize fuel consumption over a voyage,” writes Toqua. “Increasing the fuel savings of an existing routing solution by providing it with an improved ship performance model was the core idea behind the study performed by Euronav.”

The company writes that it has been testing its model with sensor data from Euronav for the past two years. A larger study is being carried out over the next months, but they said the company has also agreed to a fleet-wide rollout to be completed in 2023.

The Saverys have scheduled a call for the investment community on February 15 to make their pitch for their proposal to remove the board and develop the new corporate strategy. It had been previously rumored that they rejected the idea of equal representation for Fredriksen on the board and in their latest statement called for new leadership to get the company back on course and restore serenity around the debate on the future strategy.