Euronav says CMB offers to buy 26% stake, shares surge

By Victor Goury-Laffont and Diana Mandia

(Reuters) – Euronav second shareholder Compagnie Maritime Belge (CMB) is offering to acquire Frontline’s 26.12% stake in the company for $18.43 per share, which will be followed by a mandatory public offer at the same price, the Belgian oil tanker and storage operator said on Thursday.

Shares of Euronav, which were suspended earlier in the day after spiking on media reports about the company going private, jumped around 18% as trading reopened at 1330 GMT.

The completion of the deal would end the arbitration action started by Euronav against its peer Frontline, of which Norwegian-born shipping tycoon John Fredriksen is the majority shareholder, in response to the latter’s decision in January to scrap a $4.2 billion planned merger between both companies.

The merger would have created the world’s largest publicly listed tanker company.

The 26.12% stake for sale in Euronav also includes Frontline-aligned Famatown, which Fredriksen also owns.

Antwerp-based CMB, which currently owns with its affiliates 22.93% of Euronav shares, opposed the merger with Frontline as soon as the discussions were announced.

The proposed transaction would also involve Frontline acquiring 24 VLCC tankers from the Euronav fleet for $2.35 billion, Euronav said in a statement.

Frontline also confirmed on Thursday discussions with CMB and Euronav, while CMB responded to a Reuters email that it would communicate on the matter, without specifying when.

“The discussions between the parties are well advanced. However, there can be no certainty that these discussions will lead to an agreement,” Euronav said.

($1 = 0.9498 euros)

(Reporting by Victor Goury-Laffont and Diana Mandiá; Editing by Alexandra Hudson, William Maclean)