ECONOMY

Lending to shippers seen hitting 8-yr low

Greek shipping firms continued to draw on banks for capital in 2008, as loans to shipping companies reached $73.2 billion, up 9.39 percent from 2007, when the figure stood at $66.9 billion, according to a report from Petrofin Bank Research. However, bank financing was drastically reduced in the last quarter of 2008. Petrofin points out in the report that lending to Greek shippers will drop in 2009 for the first time in eight years. It also added that $53.5 billion of the total amount of available finance had been drawn upon last year, while the respective figure in 2007 was $45.3 billion. Greek banks’ ship portfolios in 2008 reached $16.94 billion, up 6.97 percent in comparison with 2007, when it stood at $15.84 billion. Petrofin data indicate that international lenders with offices in Greece held shipping portfolios amounting to $38.98 billion, up 5.25 percent from the previous year, when it stood at just over $37 billion. On the other hand, international lenders without offices in Greece had contributed more than $17 billion in loans to the transport sector. This amount is 23 percent higher than 2007 figures, when the amount reached $14.06 billion. Petrofin added that it expects a number of credit lines not to be being drawn upon by Greek shippers due to the cancellation of ship orders and the renegotiating of purchase agreements, among other factors.