A growing number of Greek ship owners are embracing Chinese leasing according to the buzz at Marine Money in Greece. Vincent Xu of Stephenson Harwood traveled from Shanghai to moderate a panel of owners all of which have either concluded a deal or are in the process.
Taking some by surprise, Capital’s CEO Jerry Kalogiratos announced that the company had recently concluded a leasing deal of more than $200m for four VLCCs, the first time this vessel type has been funded in this way. Top Ships CFO Alexandros Tsirikos added that were close to concluding a $100m leasing deal for two suezmaxes.
Speaking about whether more leasing deals were in the pipeline, Kalogiratos pointed to the vast amount of preparation that was required to get the deal done. “You want to do more than one deal as there is a lot of preparation.”
He added that the process was slow to begin with but believed it would speed up as the relationship between owner and leasing bank developed. He described the “learning curve” for both sides but believed that once the “path has opened” they would see more leasing deals being done. In a later session, Thomas Kaas Christiansen, CCO Shipping, Offshore & Logistics, Europe, Minsheng Finacial Leasing agreed “More and more of the deals will create a higher level of education in the Chinese leasing community.”
Kalogiratos was keen to stress the value of having multiple sources of capital. “You have to diversify your capital sources. Leasing companies will be an important part of it – they are here to stay and can now offer service across all vessels types and sizes.”
Local finance guru George Xiradakis, perhaps wondering about the future of his own business, asked the panel whether Chinese leasing would ever be the “main source of finance for owners.” Seanergy Martitime Holdings CEO Stamatis Tsantanis responded that shipping should expect leasing companies to be able to “compete in the future”, but that leasing would have to further “develop before that happens.”
In his opening remarks, conference sponsor Jeff Zhu General Manager, Ship Leasing Avic International Leasing described his rain-soaked arrival in Athens the previous day. But he wasn’t bothered, he explained, “In China, raining means money is coming.”
Among all the sweet talk about Chinese leasing, Eleni Vrettou, Managing Director, Head of Wholesale Banking Greece for HSBC vocalized the question that Greek owners in the room might be wondering to themselves “When things go sour, are you still going to have your vessel?”
Marine Money Greece was sponsored by Spinnaker Global.