BUSINESS

Greek shipping turns to local lenders

ILIAS BELLOS

TAGS: Shipping, Banking

Three Greek banks – Piraeus, National and Alpha – are among the world’s top 40 lenders in financing oceangoing shipping, as the Greek credit sector has increased its share in funding Greek shipping companies in the face of a global reduction in marine lending, according to 2017 data compiled by Petrofin Bank Research.

The total credit issued to shipping companies dropped $10 billion euros on an annual basis last year to $345 billion, as credit institutions continue their deleveraging, and the sector is among their main targets. The above amount concerns the top 40 banks in ship finance. Still, although bank credit has declined 25 percent since 2008, the global fleet has expended by 28 percent, as shipowners and companies have resorted to alternative forms of financing by private investment funds – directly or via the bond market, mainly in Oslo.

Likewise, borrowing by Greek shipping companies from the international credit system was 5.62 percent lower at the end of 2017 than a year earlier, despite the growth of the Greek-owned fleet. However, credit from Greek banks has increased.

Total borrowing by Greek-owned shipping firms amounted to $53.994 billion at end-2017, from $57.211 billion at end-2016 and $62.711 billion at end-2015. More than a sixth of last year’s credit (16.83 percent) came from Greek lenders, which increased their loans to Greek shippers by 4.25 percent year-on-year from $8.721 billion at end-2016.

Today the biggest Greek shipping loan portfolio is held by Piraeus Bank ($2.75 billion, excluding coastal shipping), which puts it in fourth spot among the world’s banks in this respect. It is followed by National Bank, which ranks seventh among Greek shipping’s financiers ($2.427 billion), Alpha Bank is in 14th place ($2.225 billion euros) and Eurobank in 19th (with $1.524 billion), while Aegean Baltic is in 29th spot ($164.4 million).

The above data concern both the balance of loans and credit that has been approved but not yet disbursed – at least until the end of 2017.

On a global level, last year was the first time two Chinese banks topped the ship finance chart, namely Bank of China and EXIM.

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