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Maritime & Merchant: Shipping’s new bank


Oslo: He’s behind the shipping story of the past week and is today’s Maritime CEO profile.
Halvor Sveen, backed by a heavyweight line up of shipping luminaries, is the managing director of the brand new Norwegian shipping bank, Maritime & Merchant (M&M).
Announced late last week M&M has been created to fill the gap left by the exodus of shipping-related banks in the past five years. The bank aims to push through a $300m IPO next year. Among shareholders are Germany’s Henning Oldendorff and Norway’s Arne Blystad, who each have a 30% stake.
Shanghai’s Landmark Holdings, through Paal Utvik and well-known offshore specialist David Wu, has a 18.75% stake, with Singapore-based Nergaard Investment Partners, controlled by Alex and Birger Nergaard, taking an 11.25% share. The chairman of the new bank, Endre Ording Sund, a former Wilhelmsen executive, has a 2% stake.
The bank is set to officially open for business in the first half of next year.
“We will focus on the mid-sized and smaller shipping companies; however it will always be the credit quality evaluated case by case and the overall structure which will be decisive for our credit approvals,” says Sveen, who was formerly senior vice president, offshore and shipping at Pareto Bank. M&M will provide some sweet relief to many smaller, second tier owners who have been left high and dry by banking’s sudden turn against shipping
Regarding sectors, M&M will prefer tonnage types with high liquidity such as conventional bulkers, tankers and containers and not too specialised units.
“However,” stresses Sveen, “it depends again on the total structure such as employment of the vessels and the solidity of the customers.”
On how M&M will differentiate itself from other banks Sveen is clear.
“We think we can represent a competence driven bank,” he says, “characterised by quick decisions and in-depth industry knowledge. Furthermore, we would like to be perceived as a solution-oriented bank with a clear and transparent credit policy, which could be an interesting partner for companies who want to materialise new projects.”
To begin with the bank will focus on European markets. Going forward, expansion will take the bank to other continents. With founding partners based in Shanghai and Singapore, Asia will be on the cards. “We expect that considerable business can come from Asia in due course,” says Sveen.  [09/10/13]

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