Why Norway works so well as a maritime cluster

Nor-Shipping is nearly upon us. My calendar is full of receptions to attend in Oslo and I am looking forward to the show.

Norway has done a fantastic job at developing its maritime cluster – it reminds me of the Dutch model in fact. The NIS registry was a smart move and just about every facet of shipping is covered in this Scandinavian country. You have two very strong banks, two P&I Clubs, lawyers and it’s important to remember also all the marine technology developed in Norway. I’ve been at naming ceremonies for $750m drillships in South Korea where up to 40% of the value of these giants is coming from innovative Norwegian manufacturers.

From a finance point of view, Oslo has a huge amount to offer. There’s a noticeable closeness to the business by the regulatory authorities, which helps smooth transactions. It is also a quicker market for finance. Bear in mind, too, that this is very much an international ship finance centre – more than half of the over the counter (OTC) deals done in Oslo are with foreign firms.

The OTC market is most interesting as a stepping stone to bigger IPOs such as the recently announced move by OTC-listed Hafnia Tankers to seek a New York listing.

The other great aspect about raising funds here is that Norwegian capital tends to be more knowledgeable than other markets; there’s a real understanding of shipping and offshore, which is a very big difference compared to other places such as New York.

Moreover, the market is pretty big while the maturities are pretty short, so the money gets invested regularly and rapidly – snowballing as such.

The other nice thing is that, unlike certain other nation’s banks, Norwegians tend to pay you back.

Beyond Norway, a quick look at the markets – and I want to start by stating how sick I am of people overplaying the doom and gloom in the dry bulk sector. People are too overwhelmed by the dry bulk depression. Dry bulk and offshore aside, the markets are actually okay, there are more than 20 other sectors to be looking at – people, including the media, need to stop getting hung up about the misfortunes of dry bulk.

Offshore, I admit, is wildly overbuilt and overpriced. There will be plenty more pain in this segment. My take is the oil price should be lower. The oil price at $60 per barrel is on the high side, in my mind it should be $40 as there is a complete oversupply of oil.

Finally, for those who are new to Nor-Shipping, a couple of bits of useful advice – try to snap up as many invites to the myriad receptions as well. Secondly, hope for good weather.

This article first appeared in the most recent issue of Maritime CEO magazine which readers can access for free by clicking here.

Dagfinn Lunde

Dagfinn Lunde, previously head of DnB New York (90-95), Head of INTERTANKO (95-00), and on the board of DVB responsible for the shipping and offshore division from 2000 until end of 2013. He is now a board member of Advantage Tankers, Dynamic Drilling and Maxi Shipping and co-founder of DagMar Navigation Ltd.
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