Euronav CEO Hugo De Stoop steps down

In a surprising turn of events, the Supervisory Board of Belgian tanker major Euronav NV has announced the departure of CEO Hugo De Stoop with immediate effect, citing mutual agreement.

Illustration; Image credit Euronav

The company said in a press release that the majority of the Supervisory Board supported the decision.

The move comes on the heels of the reshuffling of the board structure back in March, and the appointment of four new directors: John Frederiksen and Cato H. Stonex, representing Famatown; and Marc Saverys and Patrick De Brabandere, representing CMB.

The board changes followed a botched tie-up between Euronav and Frontline after Frontline decided not to move forward with the merger. Euronav was sticking to its guns claiming the decision was without merit and responded with legal action. However, as the company’s shareholder structure started to change with Fredriken’s stake buildup the Belgian tanker owner had to cede to board changes and potentially alter its course on the matter taking a more conciliatory approach.

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“The Supervisory Board wishes to thank Hugo De Stoop for his contribution to Euronav over the past two decades and its development into a world-class leading tanker company,” Euronav said.

To ensure a seamless transition of leadership, De Stoop will remain available to the company as a senior advisor until the appointment of a permanent successor.

In the meantime, the company’s Chief Financial Officer (CFO) Lieve Logghe has agreed to assume the position of interim CEO. Logghe, who has been instrumental in driving substantial improvements across Euronav’s financial structure since joining the group in 2020, will simultaneously continue her role as CFO during this interim period.

I am grateful to have spent close to 20 years helping to build a great company and supporting talented people in doing so. With a new Supervisory Board and strong representation from the two core shareholders, now is an appropriate time for Euronav to open a new chapter in its development,” Hugo De Stoop said.

The departure of Hugo De Stoop comes at a crucial juncture for Euronav, as the company navigates the challenges and opportunities that lie ahead with respect to the decarbonization of its operations, one of them being choosing the fuel of the future.

Up till now, Euronav has been taking a prudent approach in selecting the next fuel for its vessels amidst developments in the LNG sector. Namely, LNG was the market’s favorite for quite a while, however, the table seems to be turning in favor of carbon-free fuels.

Recently, De Stoop emphasized the need for caution, stating that relying on a single fuel is not advisable.

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With recent shifts in the market, orders for dual-fuel methanol are increasing, and dual-fuel ammonia is likely to gain traction in the next two to three years. In light of those developments, the company is making its newbuilds ready for potential conversion to emerging market favorites.

Euronav recently booked the construction of Suezmaxes which are both methanol and ammonia-ready from South Korean shipbuilding firm Daehan Shipbuilding Co. The new 157,310 DWT ships will be sister vessels to Cedar and Cypress, which are also built at the yard.

The eco-Suezmax tankers will be fitted with both exhaust gas scrubber technology and ballast water treatment systems.

They have the structural notation to be liquefied natural gas (LNG) ready, with both partners working closely to also have the structural notation to be ammonia and methanol ready.

The shipping company is also doing a joint development project with Hyundai Heavy Industries (HHI), Lloyd’s Register, and DNV on ammonia-fitted tankers.