Hong Kong-focused sale and leaseback deals continue to move with Watson Farley & Williams (WFW) advising on CMB Financial Leasing’s (CMBFL) $180.4m transaction with Nasdaq-listed Star Bulk Carriers for its acquisition of 15 bulkers from Songa Bulk.

Although bank ship finance into Greek shipping continued to contract in 2017, the decline is slowing and by the end of this year more banks will become more willing to lend into the Greek market. This is the conclusion of the annual look at Greek ship finance by Petrofin Bank Research.

Scorpio Tankers is strengthening its balance with a sale and leaseback deal for five vessels with China’s AVIC International Leasing.

CSIC Leasing, the financial leasing arm of China Shipbuilding Industry Corp (CSIC), has made its first-ever sale and leaseback transaction worth $65.5m with Greek tanker owner and operator Eletson Corporation.

China’s financial leasing institutions are stepping up their game in shipping becoming more flexible and competitive in their deal terms compared to traditional bank lendings, according to Western shipowners.

With less new ships being ordered amid the severe oversupplied shipping market and vessel assets changing hands in light of restructurings, owners are starting to seek refinancing for secondhand tonnages, but bankers have expressed little or no interests in entering into deals for such passed down assets.

Chinese financial institutions are seeing increased interest from shipowners over the past few years during the time when traditional lending sources from banks have shrunk due to the shipping crisis.

China’s Minsheng Financial Leasing Co is eyeing to enlarge the value of its ship financing deals by 10-15% in 2017 over this year, amidst the market slump which it believes has presented opportunities.

Shanghai-based CMB Financial Leasing, subsidiary of China Merchants Bank, has affirmed its interest in ship financing amid the industry downturn, with an aim to expand its current $2bn leasing assets in shipping and to diversify its portfolio.

As a testament to the strength and depth of the country, as China's government puts the squeeze on banks and the credit they offer, other institutions are coming in to fill the gap.