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Singapore ship finance scheme attracts German owner

Singapore: Leading German owner and investor Rickmers Reederei plans to set up an office in Singapore later this year in order to utilise the Republic's new Maritime Finance Incentive (MFI) scheme, Seatrade learns.

Moritz Mittelbach, managing partner and cfo of Rickmers Holding, says the company increasingly needs to look outside Germany for ship investment vehicles, 'as we think that the good old times for the KG system might be over. The German KG model was unique, but now similar schemes are appearing elsewhere. Singapore is also offering lots of incentives.'

The MFI, introduced by the Maritime and Port Authority of Singapore (MPA) earlier this year, is one of the latest initiatives to enhance the maritime services or 'software' side of Singapore. It grants tax exemption for qualifying income of ship investment vehicles and a 10% concessionary tax rate for qualifying income of ship investment managers. It was intended to help launch Singaporean equivalents to KGs, and one such fund - the PIL-backed Pacific Shipping Trust - was launched on the Singapore Stock Exchange in late May.

Meanwhile, Rickmers is also increasingly building ships for its own account, rather than for private investors in KG ship funds. It now has 47 ships on order, mainly boxships, with only a handful financed by the KG system. Some 20 have already been sold to other owners, with the rest destined for time-charter with liner operators. Current fleet in service numbers 78 vessels in the 1,000-5,060teu size range.  [20/07/06]

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