Plans by a shipping tycoon to redomicile his company to Cyprus became unclear after Frontline announced a merger with a rival oil tanker operator fell through.
Oil tanker company Frontline this week said a deal to merge with rival Euronav had been terminated, ending a dream-combo that would have seen the world's largest publicly listed tanker company relocating to Cyprus.
John Fredriksen, a Norwegian billionaire who also holds a Cypriot passport, had recently asked shareholders of his company Frontline to approve a move to Cyprus.
Frontline’s actual steps for redomicile in Cyprus were seen as a way to mediate the concerns of Belgium’s oldest shipping family, which saw the merger as problematic
Two weeks ago the Registrar in the Republic of Cyprus issued a temporary redomiciliation certificate to Bermuda-based Frontline after shareholders in Nicosia approved the move, which was a pre-condition before the Belgian rival could merge into the new structure.
It was not clear what went wrong with the much-anticipated merger but Frontline this week said it has dropped plans to pursue a listing on Euronext Brussels.
But last month reports said Euronav’s largest shareholder, Compagnie Maritime Belge that owns a stake over 25%, had called for the deal to be abandoned, saying it undervalued the company among other reasons.
Frontline CEO Lars Barstad said the company regretted the collapse of the deal.
“We regret that we could not complete the merger as envisaged in July 2022, as that would have created the by far largest publicly listed tanker company,” Barstad said.
It remained unclear how Frontline would move forward on Cyprus after having completed the steps that would have launched the new company on the island.
While Frontline listed a number of advantages in relocating to Cyprus, it has also been reported that the Norwegian investor was had a high contest with the Saverys, Belgium’s oldest shipping family.
Industry experts said Frontline’s actual steps in completing the redomicile procedure in Cyprus was meant to mediate concerns on the side of the Saverys who kept opposing the deal out of fear the merger would have been problematic.