Dagfinn Lunde – Shipping readies to party
Capital Link is the first of the big conferences at Posidonia today. Dagfinn Lunde from eShipfinance.com on the likely talking points this week in Athens.
Unquestionably there is an extraordinary buzz about the return of Posidonia this week, shipping’s most fun gathering – it is clear the Greek event has been missed.
Up for discussion I imagine will be the demise of international banking. Latest data for Q1 shows the lowest syndicated loan volumes to shipping on record. Both the number and the volume of deals are so minimal as to be amazing – and when it comes to offshore it is non-existent. More syndicated loans have been club deals, with fewer open deals. It really is astonishing.
Looking at Petrofin data pertaining to the Greek market, while most international banks continue to scale back, local banks are upping their game. Greek banks now rank second, third, fourth and seventh in the Petrofin Greek ship finance charts – only Credit Suisse is bigger. Among the traditional banking names that have serviced this market for so long it is only BNP Paribas that continues to grow.
More generally we see the east gaining ground led by the Japanese and Chinese and a lot of private equity firms are growing very strongly, mainly via leasing structures.
Despite the tough times most households are facing in 2022, I am expecting some rather lavish parties in Greece – shipping can afford to lay on a mega bash this year.
I recently spent a few days in Hamburg and the German shipowners were discussing what to do with all their cash. In 40 years in this industry, I’ve never heard such talk. Ships in so many sectors are raking in money – the cross-sector ClarkSea Index stands at $44,357 a day, with the average in the year to date up 158% on the 10-year average. Likewise, I love the stat I read from John McCown recently that container shipping profits in the first quarter of 2022 beat out those of FANG—an acronym for Facebook, Amazon, Netflix and Google—by 103%.
With all this cash pile, owners can’t do their normal instant reflex which is to sign contracts with yards in Asia. For once, they are sitting on huge reserves and cannot destroy their markets as they’re unable to get a newbuild berth before 2025. We are truly in a new world of shipping with the only risk as I see it being demand destruction.
Elsewhere at Posidonia, I imagine all things green or sustainable will be the main talking point. Incoming pollution regulations and the urgent need for green tech solutions will likely dominate discussions as will talk of carbon levies and spiralling bunker bills.
You look at what some bureaucrats are saying about cars – such as banning petrol cars by the end of the decade – and it gives one pause for thought. What would happen if they did the same for shipping? A wholesale fleet replacement would be an environmental disaster in terms of the products and pollution needed to build a new fleet. I’ve been saying for years shipping needs to focus far more on retrofitting. Retrofit finance is readily available – you just need to call it something green and/or sustainable and financiers will fall over themselves to lend you capital these days.
I look forward to catching up with many of you in sunny Athens this week.
This article first appeared in the most recent issue of Maritime CEO magazine, which is being distributed at Posidonia this week. You can access the full magazine for free by clicking here.
To know more about eShipfinance.com and Dagfinn Lunde, click here.