* CEO: Frontline will continue to expand its fleet
* CEO: Won’t pursue M&A now, though consolidation may come later
* Frontline had made multiple bids for DHT (Adds quote, bullets, background)
By Ole Petter Skonnord
OSLO, June 26 (Reuters) - Oslo-listed oil tanker firm Frontline has abandoned its pursuit of New York-listed rival DHT Holdings and is not working on any alternative acquisitions, Frontline’s CEO told Reuters on Monday.
DHT last month rejected a fifth takeover proposal from billionaire shipping tycoon John Fredriksen’s Frontline, calling the $500 million all-share bid “woefully inadequate”.
Frontline has now admitted defeat and switched course away from takeovers for the time being.
“We will not spend time pursuing the DHT track,” Frontline Chief Executive Robert Hvide Macleod said in a written comment to Reuters.
“With our present opportunities for creating value through fleet renewal, we’re not currently pursuing any other acquisitions either,” he added.
Instead of a deal with Frontline, DHT struck a tankers-for-shares agreement with BW Group in March. That made BW, led by shipping tycoon Andreas Sohmen Pao, DHT’s biggest shareholder with a stake of over 30 percent.
Frontline attempted to block the BW deal, first in a U.S. court and later in the High Court of the tiny Marshall Islands in the Pacific, but both lawsuits were eventually dismissed.
Following DHT’s rejection, investors and analysts had suggested Frontline could widen its search for acquisitions to include other competitors such as Gener8 Maritime.
Macleod said Frontline would continue to expand its fleet of crude tankers and that the company had ample access to borrow money at attractive rates in financial markets, but rejected takeovers for the time being.
“Frontline still believes the industry at some point should see further consolidation, but given today’s market situation and Frontline’s position and size, we’re very comfortable moving forward on our own,” he added.
Frontline had previously argued that a deal to combine with DHT and create the world’s largest listed tanker company would be able to lower costs and also well placed to participate in a market recovery. (Writing by Terje Solsvik, editing by Keith Weir)