Several prominent family-owned shipping companies, mainly with Norwegian roots, have invested in new company Maritime Asset Partners, which will offer alternative financing for shipping and offshore companies.
"We are an upstart company which has already raised investments for USD 150 million. There has been enormous support from investors, and it's important to me that customers understand that we're not going out to raise capital, but that we already have the capital and that we can raise more money according to our needs," explains Nick Roos, who will head Maritime Asset Partners' office in London, to ShippingWatch.
He has worked with ship financing for 30 years, including stints at firms such as Deutsche Bank and HSBC.
That the company, where investors include Blystad Group and Nergaard Investments Partners, and which is also involved in the new shipping bank Maritime & Merchant, is being established now is attributed to the crisis that has enveloped the shipping markets in recent years – and which means that many companies may now find it difficult to raise capital from the traditional shipping lenders.
Not a last resort
"First of all, we're not a bank, and second, our financing will be more expensive than with a traditional shipping bank. That being said, it has generally become more expensive for shipping companies to access capital, and for us it's not a matter of exploiting of the weak position some companies find themselves in, or to serve as a lifeline, but rather to develop long-term relationships with our customers," says Roos.
He expects that Maritime Asset Partners' customers could be small or medium-sized companies which do not wish to use traditional bank financing, or larger companies looking to supplement their existing capital arrangements.
"We are not going to compete with the major commercial banks about the big names in shipping, but even the big names may need alternative financing. For instance, Euronav made a deal with Wafra Capital Partners in January, one of our investors, for a loan, and I think we'll see more these kinds of deals in the future," explains Roos.
The deal between Euronav and Wafra Capital Investments was made in January and concerned financing for VLCCs totaling USD 186 million.
Maritime Asset Partners will target customers around the world, and as for which segments of the industry the firm will bet on, Roos says:
"We are definitely agnostics in terms of picking sectors in shipping and offshore. We want to do business where it is. The same applies geographically, where our background is in Nordic and Asian shipping, but we are in no way looking to only make deals with companies in Germany, Greece, or elsewhere."
Mainly investors with Norwegian backgrounds
The names behind Maritime Asset Partners count a total of five companies, four of which have Norwegian backgrounds.
First is Blystad Group, owned by Arne Blystad with headquarters in Oslo. Then comes another Norwegian family-owned company, namely Nergaard Investments Partners, which has joined the ownership circle and also has roots in Oslo and is headed by Birger and Alex Nergaard.
The owners include another two family-owned investment companies – LMP Pte Ltd, owned by family Utvik and which invests in, among other sectors, shipping, oil, and gas, as well as ASL AS, which is owned by Norwegian shipbroker Axel Stove Lorentzen.
And finally, the group of investors also counts WCP Investments LP (Wafra Capital Partners). This company is registered in the US and is owned by the Kuwaiti government.
Names also behind new bank
Two of the investors in Maritime Asset Partners – Blystad Group and Nergaard Investment Partners – are also part of the new Maritime & Merchant bank headed by CEO Halvor Sveen.
The bank has been underway for a long time, but announced just before New Year that the launch was imminent.
As ShippingWatch reported, wealthy Norwegian shipping investor Endre Røsjø and German Henning Oldendorff, who controls one of the world's largest dry bulk carriers, are the other two investors in Maritime & Merchant in addition to Blystad and Nergaard.
According to Nick Roos, the two companies – the bank and the financing platform – have nothing in common beyond the fact that they share two investors.
"It's probably not a coincidence that people with an appetite for ship financing involve themselves in several ventures, as is the case here. But the businesses are not related. There are no ties in terms of strategy or management. We look forward to working with Maritime & Merchant as we do with other collaborators," he says.
English Edit: Daniel Logan Berg-Munch