Fredriksen Calls for Euronav Board Seat as CMB Maps Out Its Strategy
John Fredriksen is upping the ante in the ongoing battle to determine the future of tanker operator Euronav announcing through his investment company that he is seeking a seat on Euronav’s board. It is the latest in the back and forth between Fredriksen through his companies Frontline and Famatown Finance and the Saverys family and Compagnie Maritime Belge (CMB) which are calling for Euronav to stop “clinging to the ‘bigger is better’ approach” and instead realize current market opportunities followed by a strategy of diversification and decarbonization.
“CMB believes that Euronav should in a first instance be run as a top-class tanker company, focusing on riding the tanker cycle, paying dividends, buying back shares, rejuvenating its fleet, and using its balance sheet to take advantage of business opportunities,” CMB writes in its latest statement. The company said it would take its case directly to investors on a February 15 conference call while reiterating its proposal to replace the company’s supervisory board members. “Our view is that only new leadership will be able to get the company back on course after these tumultuous times, restore serenity around the debate on the future strategy, and promote a constructive dialogue with all of its stakeholders.”
They however acknowledged that other shareholders might have a different view on Euronav’s future strategy. They said CMB is not aware of the intentions of Famatown and Frontline in relation to the upcoming special shareholder meeting scheduled for March 23.
Famatown made its first statement today announcing that it would exercise its shareholder rights and propose John Fredriksen and British businessman Cato Stonex as candidates for the Euronav supervisory board. They noted that Stonex has had a long career as a fund manager involved in a range of other business areas, including a long-term investor in German property. Famatown further said it fully reserves its rights as a shareholder, including its rights to make further proposals for amendment of the agenda for the upcoming shareholder meeting.
They counter by saying that their proposed slate for the supervisory board members has the requisite professional experience including an intimate familiarity with the shipping industry operations and trends. They said the board would have the skills to create value in the current market while consulting with the management board on strategy. In the medium to longer term, they call for exploring new investments “to diversify the fleet into other shipping segments and to accelerate the decarbonization strategy.”
CMB explained its reasoning for ousting the board members citing the board's statements that the best strategy is the combination with Frontline and its arbitration efforts against Frontline. “The actions and communications of the current board indicate that its members have become intrinsically linked to, and continue to support, a combination with Frontline.”
The proposed combination of CMB.TECH and Euronav they said has “not been on the table for more than 12 months.” However, they are still of the opinion that CMB.TECH could be a catalyst to accelerate the strategy of diversification and decarbonization. The company is pursuing the development of hydrogen and ammonia systems in transportation, including the first hydrogen-fueled crew transfer vessel, a hydrogen-fueled tug for the Port of Antwerp, and designs for the first large ammonia-fueled bulk carrier.
CMB noted in its message that any shareholder with at least three percent of the stock of Euronav could add its own items or proposed resolutions to the agenda of the upcoming shareholder meeting.