Gunnar Eliassen has resigned as a director of John Fredriksen’s Seatankers Management after seven years as a close advisor to the shipping tycoon.

Eliassen joined the private shipowning and investment arm of the Fredriksen empire in 2016.

He did not give a reason for his departure but told Norwegian media: “I have had seven wonderful years with John and Seatankers.

“I am very grateful for this time — both for the tasks and the trust I have received. Seatankers is the best school you can go to in business.”

Eliassen was previously a partner at Pareto Securities.

Finansavisen broke the news of the departure and reported that the move is part of a gradual transition for the 37-year-old, who may retain some board positions with Fredriksen companies until the summer.

The executive is reportedly now looking for a new position in London, where he lives.

The last major project he worked on, the merger between Fredriksen’s tanker company Frontline and Belgian rival Euronav, ended in controversy as Fredriksen pulled the plug following opposition from Euronav’s biggest shareholder, the Saverys family.

Eliassen was described as central to the negotiations, but Seatankers has not commented publicly since the deal hit the buffers.

Finansavisen reported rumours in financial markets that the relationship with Fredriksen must have turned sour due to the ending of the transaction.

“I neither want [to] nor can comment on that,” Eliassen told the newspaper.

Chapter 11 work

The executive has long been an advisor to Fredriksen on the rig side of the business.

He helped to prepare and carry out Seadrill’s Chapter 11 restructuring in the US.

Eliassen was also involved in deals that saw Fredriksen invest in US tanker owner International Seaways, and he has a board seat at Valaris, the drilling company Fredriksen has also pumped money into.

This has been a highly profitable investment for Seatankers as the stock price jumped.

The departure of Eliassen is one of several notable changes at the group in recent years.

Last June, long-time Fredriksen associate Jens Martin Jensen left as Seatankers director of shipping after just a few months to return to his previous role as chief executive of Athenian Tankers.

Talking about his reasons, Jensen said there had been “no dramas” but indicated the position did not work out as planned.

In 2021, Seatankers chief executive Tor Svelland left after completing a restructuring of parts of the group.