Funding to shipowners could start sinking

Greek banks may be less willing to make loans to the country?s shipowners as the lenders seek to finance higher-return businesses after completing recapitalization plans, Petrofin Research SA said on Friday.

Greece?s sovereign debt crisis, recession, the high cost of liquidity, losses due to a writedown of government debt and the capital inadequacy of Greek lenders saw the value of loan portfolios to Greek shipowners fall 8.6 percent in 2011 to $15.9 billion, the Athens-based shipping research company said in a report published on its website.

?Once recapitalized, Greek banks will seek to apply their new liquidity to those sectors offering the highest rewards whilst maintaining sufficient liquidity for the future,? Petrofin said. ?Consequently, the outlook for Greek banks toward ship finance remains hazy.?

The value of committed but undrawn loans from Greek banks to shipowners fell nearly 59 percent in 2011 to just under $892.5 million, the report said.

Most lenders are allowing such loans to lapse without replacement, according to the report, affecting ?the ability of existing new shipbuilding orders being financed, as well as the possibility of placing new orders.?

Such loans fell by around 71 percent for both National Bank and Alpha Bank, respectively Greece?s first and third-largest lenders, and by about 61 percent for EFG Eurobank EFG and Piraeus Bank, the second and fourth-largest, according to the report. [Bloomberg]