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Oceanis: Ship finance goes digital

Oceanis, a Hamburg-based start-up, is looking to reshape ship financing through digitisation.

Having worked in both shipping and finance for several years, Maximilian Otto, managing partner of Oceanis, believes a digital ship financing platform gives shipowners far more efficient access to capital.

“While working with Ernst Russ I dealt extensively with senior debt financing in the shipping segment. The inefficiency, complexity and in-transparency of the asset-backed financing market motivated me to create a digital tool for shipowners that assists in sourcing and securing their required debt funding in an efficient and fast way,” Otto says.

Otto also believes market forces are working in his favour as the number of active alternative debt funds is constantly growing and new banks are being set up specifically for asset-backed lending while traditional lenders focus on tier 1 clients or have exited the sector completely.

According to Otto, the company’s aim is to provide every shipowner easy access to diversified global financing sources and a transparent overview of achievable terms. In order to achieve this, Oceanis strengthens owner’s negotiation power by unbundling a clunky tender process and augmenting it with technology, while lowering the lead-time significantly and bringing down the associated costs of securing the required funding by standardising the process with debt providers.

“Our focus is on asset-backed lending and project finance. In that respect, most of our active lenders have a strong focus on the underlying asset and are able to offer non-recourse structures. In terms of loan-to-value (LTV) requirements, we have already been able to source offers between 50% to 80%.

Structure wise we can source direct senior debt financing but also leasing structures and unitranches,” Otto says.

Oceanis launched with its first project at the beginning of May. Currently there are 10 live projects on the platform comprising a total transaction volume of around $120m. The respective project ticket sizes range from $4m to $50m.

Otto claims that Oceanis is currently the only active digital ship financing platform with a pure marketplace approach.

“We are very pleased with the run-up phase and extremely happy about the positive support and feedback we received from both sides, ship-owners as well as banks and alternative debt funds,” Otto says.

Going forward, Oceanis will make efforts to grow the deal flow and debt provider network as well as creating further efficiencies.

“The target is to grow deeper into the process from request to drawdown, standardise as well as digitise as much as possible. Further features like a semi-automated structuring tool, contract negotiation, background due dilligence checks, data rooms and syndication option are in the pipeline,” Otto says.


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