Shipping tycoon John Fredriksen, the backer of oil tanker firm Frontline, has increased his holding in Belgian tanker giant Euronav.

Fredriksen’s investment vehicle, Famatown Finance, obtained an additional 5.12 million shares in Euronav for almost $70m, taking the billionaire’s stake in the Belgian firm to 20.31%.

Famatown Finance is indirectly controlled by trusts managed by Fredriksen.

The investment comes roughly one week after New York and Oslo-listed Frontline cancelled a proposed merger deal with Euronav.

The merger was first announced last July, and the two companies had reached a definitive merger agreement.

It was planned to be a stock-for-stock transaction with an exchange ratio of 1.45 Frontline shares for each Euronav share.

Had the deal been completed, it would have resulted in Frontline becoming the parent entity while Euronav would have become a majority-controlled subsidiary.

The merger would have created the largest publicly-listed oil tanker owner and operator across the globe, with a market capitalisation of more than $6bn and 146 vessels.

At that time, Euronav CEO Hugo de Stoop said: “The proposed combination is a huge opportunity to take a leading position in the tanker industry as we seek to master the transition to a world of clean, safe and sustainable shipping.

“This transaction represents a unique opportunity to deliver substantially better service to our customers, enhanced returns to our shareholders, and to provide a unique platform where people can fully express their talents while advancing our ambitious sustainability strategy towards decarbonisation of the shipping industry.”