OSLO, April 26 (Reuters) - Frontline has made a fifth offer for tanker operator DHT Holdings and given its rival 24 hours to reconsider a deal which billionaire John Fredriksen hopes will forge the world’s largest tanker company.
Over the past year Fredriksen’s Frontline, which owns 14.5 percent of DHT, has tried on several occasions to acquire all of DHT’s shares. Its fourth attempt on March 14 was rebuffed and DHT bolstered its defences a week later.
After Frontline’s March offer, DHT struck a deal with privately-owned BW Group, which is led by shipping tycoon Andreas Sohmen Pao, making it the biggest shareholder in DHT with a 34.28 percent stake. The surprise move had been expected to end Frontline’s ambitions.
But Frontline said late on Tuesday it was proposing the same all-share offer it made in February - 0.8 of a Frontline share for each DHT share. While the ratio is the same, the deal with BW Group included the issuance of new DHT shares worth about $265 million, which Frontline’s new proposal takes into account.
“We are convinced that the proposed new combination of Frontline and DHT will maximise value for both sets of shareholders,” Frontline CEO Robert Hvide Macleod said in a statement.
Frontline said in the statement it hoped DHT’s board would now enter talks and halt its efforts to fend off Frontline with measures that had given BW an unassailable advantage over any other bidder.
DHT said on Wednesday it would “carefully and thoroughly” review the approach but said the new offer was not an improvement on previous ones and the 24 hour deadline was “an unreasonably accelerated timeframe”.
“We will respond in due course,” said DHT.
DHT now has a fleet of 30 VLCCs (Very Large Crude Carriers), including four new vessels due to be delivered in 2018, and two smaller Aframax oil tankers.
Frontline has a fleet of 21 VLCCs, 17 Suezmaxes, 14 long-range product tankers, three Aframaxes and one medium-range oil tanker. (Reporting by Gwladys Fouche; editing by David Clarke)