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Mitsubishi UFJ top lender to shipping

Mitsubishi UFJ top lender to shipping

Tokyo: Mitsubishi UFJ Financial Group Inc. arranged $1.62bn in shipping loans as a lead arranger in the three months to March 31, surpassing Norway's DnB NOR ASA as the world's biggest lender to the shipping industry, writes Bloomberg. DnB NOR was the biggest underwriter for all of last year with $8.4 billion, while Mitsubishi ranked eighth.

Asian banks have taken a greater role in ship-financing as they have avoided the worst of the credit crunch that slashed lending and forced Germany's HSH Nordbank AG, the bank with the most outstanding loans to shippers, to seek government funds. There are currently 2,788 bulk carrier vessels on order, while the World Trade Organization expects a 9% drop in global trade this year.

"The order book was based on optimism that the good times were here to stay," Matthias Umlauf, senior economist at HSH Nordbank, told the newswire on May 26 in Tokyo. "There's going to be less liquidity available for shipping in the future. It will be perceived as a much more risky business and lenders will be more careful."

Asian banks including Mitsubishi UFJ and Sumitomo Mitsui Financial Group Inc. have accounted for just 3% of the $1.4trn in losses from the global credit crisis. Sumitomo jumped two places to seventh-largest arranger in the first quarter, up from ninth last year, according to Dealogic.

"Calls from companies have increased as foreign banks have been unable to cover the flow of transactions," Mamoru Takahashi, a manager at Mitsubishi UFJ's Structured Finance Division is reported as having said in a telephone interview yesterday. He declined to comment on the amount of loans they made last quarter.  [28/05/09]