Shipowners family Saverys bites (for now) in the sand at Euronav

The first showdown between the top of the Belgian shipping company Euronav and its largest shareholder – the shipping family around CMB CEO Alexander Saverys – turned out in favor of Euronav this morning.

More than two thirds of the shareholders voted at the annual general meeting of the listed oil tanker shipping company Euronav against the admission of representatives of the Saverys family to the board of directors. All three candidates put forward by the shipowners’ family were voted out.

This maneuver had everything to do with the differing views of the top of Euronav and its largest shareholder, Compagnie Maritime Belge (CMB), about the future of the oil tanker company. Euronav itself sees itself transporting crude oil across the world’s seas for many years to come with ships that are increasingly economical and CO2-arm or -less sailing. It combines that with scaling up. In early April, it was announced that an agreement in principle has been signed to merge with Norwegian oil tanker owner Frontline.

But Alexander Saverys of CMB sees no point in forming such a ‘mega tanker company’. On the other hand, he wants to transform the oil tanker shipowner into a ‘champion of cleantech shipping’. In which not only the ships themselves are made green, but also the crude oil as cargo is exchanged for so-called ‘green molecules’ that are made on the basis of renewable energy.

Fusion project

CMB has been urging Euronav in vain for months to get serious about this. With one or more representatives on the board of directors, CMB would probably have had more impact on the ins and outs of the oil tanker shipping company. So nothing comes of it.

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Whether the top of Euronav can now unimpeded its intention to merge with the Norwegian Frontline, remains to be seen. After all, the Saverys family is constantly buying up shares. It already owns almost 19 percent of Euronav. In addition, the vote on the candidate directors showed that just over 30 percent of the shareholders supported CMB’s proposals.

It is not yet known when shareholders will be asked to vote on the merger plan between Euronav and Frontline. But it seems that the merger partners increasingly have to take into account that the Saverys family can succeed in blocking the merger project with a quarter of the shareholders.

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