Alexander Saverys hits back at ‘Maritime Wall Street’ in New York luncheon address

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At a Capital Link lunch held on the eve of this week’s CMA Shipping event in the US, CMB and Euronav CEO Alexander Saverys, took the opportunity to try and ‘set the record straight’. This after what he dubbed the “particularly critical” attitude of New York’s maritime investment community to his family’s strategy during its recent takeover battle with John Fredriksen for control of Euronav.

That battle had culminated in what was probably the largest ever single tanker S&P deal, he reminded, with Frontline acquiring 24 Euronav VLCCs in return for ceding its 28.5% shareholding. This left the way clear for CMB to take control of Euronav and pursue its strategy of diversify into alternative energy ships, to which end it took over 100 ship projects from affiliated company CMB.TECH last month.

But the maritime investment community reacted negatively, he continued, adding: “We’ve been a bit surprised by the very negative reactions to our refusal to merge with Frontline and our diversification and decarbonisation strategy.”

Why is that, he queried. “Is it a belief that bigger is always better, that you can somehow generate synergies by merging shipping companies even though this has been proven wrong time and time again?”

Saverys went to rail against the current orthodoxy of pure-play shipping companies that are “larger but not necessarily better run, managed by technocratic boards that know everything about Wall Street but nothing about the Malacca Strait.”

“We think pure-play shipping companies are a thing of the past,” he countered, with the new imperative being a progressive attitude towards energy transition.

And far from being averse to dividends, he added, CMB believes these should be ‘discretionary’, based on results and a realistic forward-looking strategy that takes decarbonisation into account.

A fuller account of the Euronav takeover and new strategy can be found in the latest issue of SMI magazine available here: https://shipmanagementinternational.com/smi-issues/

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