The Saverys family’s slate of insurgent directors was rejected by Euronav shareholders by about a 2-to-1 margin, a ratio that could become meaningful as the tanker owner’s proposed merger with John Fredriksen’s Frontline moves toward an eventual vote.
At the top end, a motion to elect Ludovic Saverys as a director was voted down 74.3m to 41.2m. That means the brother of Compagnie Maritime Belge (CMB) chief executive Alexander Savery scored about 35% of the 117.7m votes represented at the meeting.
That was better than the roughly 31% won by Patrick De Brabandere and Bjarte Boe, the two other directors proposed by CMB, which is Euronav’s largest shareholder with a stake of about 18.5%. De Brabandere is a CMB director, while Boe is a former director at the Belgian company.
The numbers are significant in that they are a measure of the Saverys camp’s overall influence in the larger shareholder pool.
In the case of Ludovic Saverys, it ran to about double CMB’s actual shareholding ratio.
This is also well above the 25% or so it would take to block the Euronav-Frontline merger, which is opposed by CMB, in the event the combination is structured as a straightforward merger.
But Euronav has said that other, unspecified structures to achieve the partnership will need a lower hurdle, including an acquisition requiring just a single vote over 50%.
Assuming the Saverys bloc is able to carry over the same level of support to its opposition in a future vote over the merger proposal, it would appear to spell trouble for the straightforward merger but not for the other options.
But one industry source told TradeWinds the figures indicated the family had won little extra support on an incomplete turn-out of votes.
Excluding the 37.28m shares controlled by the Saverys clan, Boe and De Brabandere won an extra 1.4m shares, or 0.7% of the shareholder base.
Ludovic Saverys gained another 5.9m shares, equivalent to 2.95% of the company.
Turn-out could be vital in the final vote, as only around 117m votes were cast, out of 220m outstanding shares.
Fearnley Securities said: “Clearly, the proposed Frontline merger still requires further details and shareholder approval, but this is a step forward in the deal materialising.”
Fredriksen on 12%
Fredriksen’s Famatown Finance is the second biggest Euronav shareholder at about 12%.
Under the proposed all-share deal, Euronav would own 59% of a combined entity, and Frontline 41%.
CMB was proposing three new directors at the annual general meeting of shareholders on Thursday to seize control of the supervisory board.
Euronav nominated one new independent director, investment banker Steven Smith, who was elected with about 68% of the vote.
The VLCC and suezmax specialist will now seek to finalise the structure of the $4.2bn mega-merger before going out to shareholders again for a vote on the deal.
The Saverys family had wanted to merge Euronav with its own clean shipping company CMB.Tech, not Frontline.
Euronav said the result delivers a “clear signal from a majority of the shareholders” that they are in favour of the Frontline deal.