Frontline and DHT Holdings executives had been in merger negotiations that saw their respective offers and counteroffers narrow to a difference of just $30m before the March announcement of an embattled VLCC deal with BW Group, Frontline’s chief executive revealed in a New York courtroom.

But BW, which delivered the first of the 11 tankers to New York-listed DHT today, also is alleged to have received an approach from a financial advisor for Frontline offering to buy the same ships, the Singapore shipping group’s lawyer revealed to the court.