Shipping billionaire John Fredriksen has responded to moves by the rival Saverys family to up its stake in merger target Euronav.

As Fredriksen tries to seal a deal to combine his Frontline with the Belgian tanker owner, a new US securities filing has revealed one of his private companies has added to its holding in Euronav for the first time this year.

The magnate bought a stake of 9.8% by the end of 2021, making him the biggest shareholder, but this had since fallen to 9% as the Saverys clan rebuilt their holding to 16.49% in recent months.

Fredriksen’s Famatown Finance has now increased its investment to 10.92%.

The company has spent $210.5m on the holding since last year.

The slice is worth $270m, a $60m gain.

Saverys family-controlled shipowner Compagnie Maritime Belge (CMB) is opposing the Frontline merger.

CMB chief executive Alexander Saverys is trying to convince Euronav shareholders to reject the deal and instead combine the company with CMB.Tech, the Belgian group’s shipping decarbonisation outfit.

The Saverys clan is preparing for a proxy fight at Euronav’s annual general meeting on 19 May, having publicly said it will seek to replace board members led by chief executive Hugo De Stoop who are currently aligned with the Frontline initiative.

This week it emerged that Fredriksen has also become the biggest shareholder in US tanker company International Seaways with a 16.19% stake.

Analysts believe this is just a financial investment at this stage.