John Fredriksen-controlled tanker owner Frontline has announced a shuffle on its board of directors as the Norwegian billionaire pushes a merger with Euronav.

Tor Svelland, director since August 2020, has resigned from the board, with Ole Hjertaker and Steen Jakobsen — two Fredriksen lieutenants from other companies in his group — joining.

“The board would like to thank Mr Svelland for his contribution and wishes him well in his future pursuits,” the company said in a statement, published after the close in New York on Monday.

Svelland, former chief executive of Fredriksen’s private Seatankers Management, is the founder and chief executive of Svelland Capital.

Previously, he managed the dry cargo freight desk at Trafigura and was executive director of the oil desk at Goldman Sachs.

Hjertaker currently serves as chief executive at SFL Corp, which owns tankers, car carriers and boxships. He has also been a director at the company since 2019.

Jakobsen has been a director at Flex LNG since March 2021 and serves as chief investment officer at Copenhagen-based Saxo Bank, having worked at Swiss Bank Corp, Citibank, Chase Manhattan and UBS.

Fredriksen is a major figure in both companies, with a family trust having major interests in both Flex LNG and SFL Corp.

His Hemen Holding owns 25.7m shares of SFL Corp, or 18.6% of the company, while Geveran Trading owns 24.7m shares of Flex LNG, or 46.6% of the company.

According to filings with the US Securities and Exchange Commission, the ultimate beneficiaries of both shareholding companies are Fredriken’s family.

With the additions, Frontline’s board now consists of six members, including Fredriksen, chairman Ola Lorentzon, and directors James O’Shaughnessy and Jens Martin Jensen.

Frontline and Fredriksen are locked in a battle with the Saverys family to control tanker giant Euronav, following Fredriksen taking a 10% stake in the company last year.

The $4.2bn merger would be an all-share deal, with Frontline owning 41% of the resulting company that has more than 90 ships in its fleet.

Breaking news email
When major news events break, you can be one of the first to know. Keep on top of market-moving news from the fast-moving shipping industry with TradeWinds’ breaking news emails.