Frontline completes exit from Euronav as Belgian tanker major opens ‘new chapter’ under Alexander Saverys’ reins

Norwegian tanker major Frontline has completed the sale of its stake in Euronav cementing the acquisition of a fleet of 24 ECO very large crude carriers (VLCCs) from the company and formally becoming the largest pure-play tanker owner in the public domain measured by dwt.

Illustration; Image credit Euronav

The transaction is part of a deal with Euronav’s biggest shareholder CMB NV, formally ending the deadlock in the Belgian tanker shipping company after Frontline withdrew from its merger offer.

As announced in early October, Frontline and Famatown Finance Limited agreed to sell all their shares (26.12%) in Euronav to CMB at a price of $18.43 per share in return for the lion’s share of the company’s ECO VLCC fleet.

“All conditions precedent to the share sale, including approval of the inter-conditionality of the share sale and the acquisition by the Euronav shareholders meeting and anti-trust approvals, have been fulfilled. The sale successfully closed today and Frontline and Famatown are no longer shareholders in Euronav,” Frontline said on November 22.

Frontline expects to close the acquisition of the majority of vessels in 2023 and partly in the first quarter of 2024.

As part of the overall agreement, the arbitration action filed by Euronav in January 2023 has also been effectively terminated.

The deal will increase Frontline’s fleet size from 65 to 89 vessels, making the company the largest pure-play tanker owner in the public domain measured by dwt.

The move also reduces the average fleet age of the company to 6.1 years, and the addition of 24 ECO vessels is set to improve the company’s fuel efficiency and lower fleet emissions.

The move is of strategic importance at a time of an expected capacity deficit in the sector due to reduced yard capacity, as shipyards are mostly filled with orders from other sectors, such as liquefied natural gas (LNG) and container shipping. Therefore, the earliest newbuilding slots are not expected until 2026, with substantial orders not anticipated until 2027.

The ECO profile of a ship is expected to play a major role in its earnings capacity, especially in the context of ever-stricter environmental regulations.

The VLCC sector is in a unique position with a large portion of its fleet, around 30%, expected to struggle to meet energy efficiency regulations, particularly the Energy Efficiency Existing Ship Index (EEXI) and the Carbon Intensity Indicator (CII).

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New chapter for Euronav

The deal is expected to provide some breathing space for Euronav following Frontline’s exit after having to deal with rather aggressive tactics from the Norwegian shipping giant.

Specifically, CMB has become Euronav’s majority shareholder with 49.05% ownership of the company’s issued shares, translating to a commanding 53% of voting rights, and a mandatory takeover bid planned for later this year.

The company said that the transaction has resulted in Supervisory Board changes where Grace Reksten Skaugen, John Fredriksen, Cato H. Stonex and Ole Henrik Bjørge resigned from the Supervisory Board after the share sale took effect, to allow a new board to steer the company towards its new strategy.

Julie De Nul, Patrick De Brabandere and Marc Saverys consequently decided to co-opt following members within the Supervisory Board upon recommendation of the Corporate Governance & Nomination Committee.


Management board members Lieve Logghe, Brian Gallagher, Alex Staring, and Thierry De Grieze had their management board responsibilities terminated as of 22 November 2023. They will however continue on an advisory basis with Euronav until the end of December 2023 to ensure a smooth transition and handover.

Alexander Saverys, Chief Executive Officer of the CMB Group, has been named as Euronav’s CEO.  

“We are very pleased that the deal with Frontline and Famatown has become effective. It solves the strategic and structural deadlock in Euronav and allows a new board and new management team to write a new chapter for Euronav,” Alexander Saverys said.

“Our immediate focus will be to continue to run the company as the best-in-class tanker platform, whilst we will at the same time engage with the new Supervisory Board on how to execute a strategy around diversification and decarbonization.”

CMB has already laid out a strategic plan for Euronav, centered on three key pillars: fleet diversification, decarbonization, and optimization.

This diversification will include acquiring second-hand future-proof tonnage, ordering newbuildings, and potentially adding part or entire CMB and CMB.TECH’s future-proof fleet to Euronav’s portfolio, with a focus on low-carbon emitting ships, hydrogen and ammonia-powered ships.

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Ludovic Saverys, Michael Saverys, Maxime Van Eecke, and Benoit Timmermans have been appointed to the new Management Board. Ludovic Saverys, currently the Chief Financial Officer of CMB NV and General Manager of Saverco NV, assumes the role of Chief Financial Officer at Euronav.

Michael Saverys, previously Chartering Director of Bocimar International at CMB since 2009, takes on the role of Chief Chartering Officer. Maxime Van Eecke, who has demonstrated his capabilities as the Chief Commercial Officer of the CMB group since 2021, has been appointed as Euronav’s Chief Commercial Officer. Benoit Timmermans, currently serving as the Chief Strategy Officer of the CMB group, joins Euronav in the capacity of Chief Strategy Officer, overseeing the chemical division and zero carbon fuel procurement.

“After many months of uncertainty, we can finally announce that Euronav’s deadlock has been resolved. I would like to thank all our Euronav colleagues for their patience and hard work. Having served from 2003 to 2015 as Chairman of the Board, I am proud and honored to resume my duties. We embark on a new journey for Euronav with energy, perseverance and passion,” Marc Saverys said.

Euronav’s owned and operated fleet consists of 1 V-Plus vessel, 41 VLCCs (with a further one under construction), 22 Suezmaxes (with a further four under construction) and 2 FSO vessels.