Energy and shipping giant Abu Dhabi National Oil Co (Adnoc) is reportedly in the early stages of talks to buy all or part of the business of huge Swiss trading house Gunvor Group.

A deal could create a shipping and chartering operation controlling hundreds of ships, with increased market clout.

Reuters and Bloomberg cited sources as saying a deal is under discussion.

One plan could be to merge Adnoc’s trading arm with Gunvor, sources said.

A full takeover or partial acquisition would give the combined group huge reach in energy and shipping markets.

Adnoc’s vessel operation Adnoc Shipping & Logistics (Adnoc L&S) operates 130 ships, with a further 10 on order.

Gunvor has said it owns or operates more than 100 vessels through subsidiary Clearlake Shipping, including tankers.

The fleet includes a “sizeable” number of managed LNG carriers.

Neither side has commented on a prospective deal, which could take months to bear fruit.

Gunvor was co-founded by Torbjorn Tornqvist.

$4bn in equity

Its value is not known, but in June the group valued its equity at $4bn, up from $2.5bn a year ago.

Chief executive Tornqvist’s own wealth has almost doubled to $3.7bn following the invasion of Ukraine, Bloomberg has reported.

“The uprooting of normal supply chains following Russia’s invasion of Ukraine and subsequent market upheavals have provided additional support to oil traders like Gunvor,” Ole Hansen, head of commodity strategy at Denmark’s Saxo Bank, told the news agency.

In July, Gunvor said its shipping operations helped propel it to a huge first-half profit.

Dislocation had affected trades in crude oil, oil products, natural gas and LNG.

Ships driving profit

“Particularly encouraging is the return of substantial profitability in our refining operations and our shipping,” Tornqvist said.

“This has resulted mainly from tight refining capacity worldwide and strong demand, specifically in Europe, for middle distillates, including diesel, heating oil and jet fuel.

“As a leading global ship charterer, Gunvor benefited from strong demand for spot charter capacity.”

In the six months to 30 June, net earnings were up at $841m, against $213m in the same half of 2021.

Revenue jumped from $47.7bn to $89.1bn.

Adnoc L&S has a fleet valued at $4.2bn, encompassing VLCCs and other crude ships, product tankers, LNG carriers, bulkers, LPG vessels, offshore support units and tugs.

There are five VLCCs and four LNG units on order.

In July, the company made a big expansion move in the offshore oil services sector by acquiring Abu Dhabi offshore player ZMI Holdings, which trades in the market as Zakher Marine International.

The deal will add 60 offshore support vessels and jack-up construction lift boats to the Adnoc L&S offshore portfolio, which currently comprises around 20 OSVs.

The acquisition, which is subject to regulatory approvals, is expected to close in the fourth quarter.