The Saverys family’s CMB.Tech clean shipping company does not need a merger with tanker owner Euronav to pursue a stock market listing.

That is the view of Norwegian investment bank Fearnley Securities, which views the Belgium hydrogen and ammonia fuel pioneer as “interesting.”

The Saverys family is vying to merge the company with domestic tanker giant Euronav.

But Fearnleys’ analysts are backing the Euronav board’s view that the rival proposed tie-up with John Fredriksen’s tanker operation Frontline is by far the best bet for investors.

CMB.Tech operates a fleet of low and zero-carbon ferries and crew transfer vessels, and is targeting newbuildings in the dry bulk, chemical tanker and container ship sectors.

Analysts Peder Nicolai Jarlsby, Erik Gabriel Hovi and Ulrik Mannhart said all eyes will be on merger updates when Euronav reports its first-quarter results on Thursday.

“Unquestionably, CMB.Tech is an interesting company, but it seems unnecessary to use one of the largest tanker platforms to list this vehicle,” they said.

“We believe a merger with Frontline virtually ticks all the boxes for Euronav shareholders,” the analysts added.

Firstly, it would create a clear “go-to” name both in terms of size and liquidity, as well as Euronav shareholders receiving a solid uplift from previous pricing, Fearnleys argues.

Euronav traded at an average of 77% of net asset value (NAV) through 2020 and 21.

Frontline’s stock traded at 30% above NAV in the same period.

‘JF premium’

“Although some of the JF [John Fredriksen] premium may disappear over time, as he effectively will be a smaller shareholder of a bigger entity, we still believe a potential Frontline 2.0 should trade at a substantial premium to both NAV and peers,” the analysts said.

As for the Euronav results this week, the investment bank is keeping an eye out for firmer suezmax bookings, with VLCCs likely still in loss-making territory.

Ebitda is tipped to be $25m, with a net loss of $54m.

The bottom line will be aided by Euronav changing its ship depreciation period from 20 to 25 years, however.

VLCC rates are expected to come in somewhere in the middle of the $10,000 to $20,000 range, with suezmaxes up at between $25,000 and $30,000.