Star Bulk had agreed in May to acquire the Norwegian shipowner’s fleet for $328m in a cash and share deal. The funds obtained by Star Bulk under this new five-year capital lease of $180.4m entered into with CMBFL was used to part-finance the cash portion of the consideration. After paying out the $145m cash portion, this handily gives Star Bulk another $35m in extra liquidity, which may come in handy as it starts to install scrubbers on some of its vessels ahead of the 2020 sulphur cap.
Shanghai-based CMBFL, as well as other Chinese bank-backed financial leasing companies have been active in the Hong Kong market in recent months. It is a subsidiary of China Merchants Bank, the first share-holding commercial bank wholly owned by corporate legal entities in China.
The deal also showcased WFW’s global capabilities in the ship finance space, with the Hong Kong Maritime team advising on the transaction led by partner Christoforos Bisbikos, and also supported by associates in Athens and the partner in the New York office Daniel Rodgers, who advised on the Marshall Islands law aspects of the transaction.
Christoforos said: “We are delighted to have advised CMBFL on this cross-border and complex transaction which was instrumental to the acquisition of the Songa fleet. It also underpinned WFW’s ability to field a strong team from Hong Kong, Athens and New York to close the transaction in an extremely tight time frame for 15 vessels. This transaction shows once again how Chinese leasing companies are working closely together with international ship owners to fulfil their financing needs”