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Maritime & Merchant bank is still on its way

Maritime & Merchant bank is still on its way
A new name in shipping finance, backed with shipping experience including Henning Oldendorff, Maritime & Merchant (M&M) was granted its banking license in Norway in January 2014 with a stated aim to start operations in April 2014.

Since then things have been quiet from the mortgage lender, at least on the surface. "We are leaping ahead at present with the final preparation for a capital issue during the autumn of 2014," Halvor Sveen, managing director told, Seatrade Global.

"We were shooting for opening in April and we are obviously behind that schedule, as it is has taken longer time than expected to put together the anchor capital platform. In this context there are also regulatory issues involved, as we have a limit of maximum 10% ownership for a single shareholder in a bank in Norway."

With investment funds looking to own more than 10% of the bank, M&M has had to apply to the Norwegian government for exception from that limit. "We have recently seen that there have been granted exceptions from the 10% limit," Sveen explained. "We are certain that we will have a fair and correct handling of the application and in view of other cases we have observed we are optimistic that our investors will get the green light, however, all applications live their own life and we just have to wait for the outcome."

Despite the regulatory hurdle M&M is having to overcome, Sveen is convinced that Norway is the right place to establish the company. "Oslo maintain a strong position as a 'financial hub' for the maritime sector and the overall maritime cluster creates a most interesting environment for developing a competence driven niche bank like M&M. The regulatory matter in question we believe we shall be able to overcome."

Sveen is confident that M&M has not suffered from the delay, "quite the opposite, we have almost on a daily basis enquiries from potential customers who urge us to start lending."

"I will say that we have received a massive amount of encouragement for M&M from a broad spectre of stakeholders within the maritime sector and we are convinced that with common efforts we, including our excellent advisory team; Pareto Securities, DNB Markets and Cleaves Securities, will materialise Maritime & Merchant Bank."

Although the bank itself operates in a niche sector, Sveen expects the bank's main areas of operation for its mortgage-backed lending within the maritime industry will be in established sectors. "Our prime focus will be on standard mainstream tonnage with a high degree of liquidity; such as tankers and dry bulk in the shipping sector, PSV/AHTS in the offshore sector. We will as well finance 'standard' specialised vessels, like LPG, chemical tankers and car carriers but, primarily vessels that have employment."

Halvor Sveen will be speaking at SMM's Ship Finance Forum on Monday 8 September.