Euronav Standoff as Fredriksen Increases Shareholding to Equal Saverys
The battle lines continue to be drawn over the future of tanker company Euronav with Norwegian investor John Fredriksen and the Belgian Saverys family now each roughly controlling a quarter of the company’s outstanding shares. It means that both can now block any merger attempts while the company continues to face deadlines for a potential shareholder meeting and a request for arbitration.
Fredriksen reported in a filing to the U.S. Securities Exchange Commission that through his investment companies, they have once again increased their total holdings in Euronav going from approximately 18 percent weeks ago to a current 24.99 percent of the shares. The increase represents a further investment of $75 million over the past week to acquire an additional nearly 4.8 million shares.
At current market value, Fredriksen now holds nearly $800 million worth of the stock of Euonav. His investment companies own 50.4 million shares and have voting control over 50,426,478 shares. Based on that number, Fredriksen not only has 24.99 percent but has also surpassed the Saverys’ family position which at last report owned 50,425,600 shares.
Euronav’s board continues to be caught between the battling shareholders. They responded to Frontline’s decision not to proceed with the share exchange offer by filing for an emergency arbitration to protect the shareholders’ interests under Belgian securities law. This move came as the board also received a letter from CMB requesting under Belgian securities law a general meeting of Euronav with the agenda to replace the current board with a slate from the family and its supporters. CMB has the right to request the extraordinary meeting as it holds more than 10 percent of the company’s stock. The Euronav board only has weeks to respond.
While the two sides continue to posture in the fight for control of the tanker company, Euronav has also scheduled its announcement of fourth quarter financial results for next Thursday, February 2. It will be accompanied by a conference call with investors.
The company’s strategy and long-term direction are caught between the two battling shareholders who appear to be moving toward a standoff.