The early years
Our company traces its origins to Frontline AB, which was founded in 1985 and listed on the Stockholm Stock Exchange from 1989 to 1997. In 1996, Hemen Holding Limited, a company indirectly controlled by trusts established by John Fredriksen for the benefit of his immediate family (“Hemen Holding”), became the majority shareholder in Frontline AB. Frontline AB was subsequently re-domiciled from Sweden to Bermuda and listed on the Oslo Stock Exchange in May 1997. The following year, Frontline AB was merged with London & Overseas Freighters (“LOF”), also a Bermuda company, with LOF as the surviving company. LOF was subsequently renamed Frontline Ltd. (“Frontline”), the Frontline we know today.
Returning Value to Shareholders
Through a series of acquisitions and purchases of new and secondhand tankers, Frontline became the world’s largest tanker company. In August 2001, Frontline shares began trading on the New York Stock Exchange (“NYSE”) under the ticker ‘FRO’. For the next ten years, Frontline consistently returned value to its shareholders in the form of cash dividends and shares of Frontline subsidiaries spun off as separately listed companies.
In October 2003, Frontline formed Ship Finance Limited (“Ship Finance”) as a wholly owned subsidiary. On June 16, 2004, Frontline distributed 25% of the common shares of Ship Finance to Frontline’s shareholders. The following day, the common shares of Ship Finance began trading on the NYSE under the symbol ‘SFL.’. By the end of 2006, Frontline had distributed 100% of its ownership in Ship Finance to its shareholders.
In December 2004, Frontline spun off its interest in a subsidiary, dry bulk owner Golden Ocean Group Limited (“Golden Ocean”), to shareholders of Frontline. Golden Ocean was subsequently listed on the Oslo Stock Exchange and later through the merger with Knightsbridge on NASDAQ under the ticker ‘GOGL’.
Since the company’s initial listing on the NYSE, it has returned significant dividends to its shareholders. The company has also generated significant returns for its shareholders through share spin offs.
Restructuring & Rebuilding
In early 2012, after an extend downturn in the tanker market, Frontline completed a restructuring while many of its peers filed for bankruptcy protection. The restructuring was made possible through a significant financial commitment of Frontline’s still-largest shareholder, Hemen Holding. In the restructuring, a new company, Frontline 2012 Ltd., was formed and listed on the Norwegian over the counter market. Frontline 2012 raised $285 million in equity, of which 50% was received from Hemen Holding, to acquire 15 of Frontline’s vessels, including five newbuilding contracts, and the debt and contractual obligations associated with those vessels.
Following the restructuring, Frontline gradually divested itself of older vessels and decreased its fleet size.
Frontline 2012 pursued a growth strategy, mainly through newbuilding acquisitions in the dry bulk, gas, crude oil, and refined product segments. In 2013 Frontline 2012 acquired a large stake in Avance Gas Holding Ltd (“Avance”) and Frontline 2012 sold eight Very Large Gas Carrier newbuildings to Avance. Later the shares in Avance were distributed to the Frontline 2012 shareholders.
In 2014 Frontline 2012 and Knightsbridge Tankers Limited agreed to combine Frontline 2012s cape size dry bulk newbuildings. Knightsbridge subsequently issued shares to Frontline 2012. Knightsbridge later agreed to merge with Golden Ocean Group Limited and forming a leading dry bulk company. In 2015 Frontline 2012 announced a special dividend and distributed its shares in the merged company, Golden Ocean , to its shareholders.
Merger with Frontline 2012
On November 30, 2015, the shareholders of each of Frontline and Frontline 2012 agreed to enter into a merger transaction, with Frontline 2012 becoming a wholly-owned subsidiary of Frontline.