NAT renews poison pill to fend off 'coercive takeovers'

Herbjorn Hansson says there is nothing behind New York-listed tanker owner's move to extend shareholder rights plan.

Nordic American Tankers has adopted a shareholder rights plan known as a poison pill after its existing measures expired.

Despite rampant consolidation talk in the tanker sector, chief executive Herbjorn Hansson says there is nothing more to today's move other than the extension of the 10-year plan that was adopted in 2007.

"Old news. That is all," he said in an emailed response to TradeWinds' questions. "Nothing else."

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Under the new rights agreement, New York-listed NAT will issue a preferred share purchase right to each shareholder that is exerciseable if a company or investor garners a 15% stake in the suezmax tanker owner. Such provisions typically block such a transaction, unless it has the blessing of the board of directors.

"The board has adopted this rights agreement to protect shareholders from coercive or otherwise unfair takeover tactics," NAT said in a filing with the US Securities & Exchange Commission.

"The rights agreement should not interfere with any merger or other business combination approved by the board."

The renewal comes at a time when mergers-and-acquisition fever continues to grip the tanker sector.

John Fredriksen's Frontline is believed to have pivoted away from targeting a takeover of rival DHT Holdings to chase after Peter Georgiopoulos-led Gener8 Maritime.

Gener8, meanwhile, is working with UBS for M&A advice as it also has faced interest from Idan Ofer's Quantum Pacific Shipping.