Marina Tzoutzouraki: Put maritime finance in the digital age

In the digital era, shipping finance passed, with a Greek banker in front of me. This is Marina Tzoutzouraki who is the co-founder of eShipfinance, which offers the traditional ship financing on a digital platform, in an easy, fast and safe way.

“The is intended to bring together those who want if they invest in shipping with the sources of finance. The platform also manages everything that is required to complete the deal and approve a loan. The direct connection to the electronic platform facilitates boat mortgages in an “easier”, “faster” and more “safe” way,” Marina Tzoutzouraki points out in “The programs are secured by a mortgage of no more than 50% LTV at a favorable cost to the shipowner, supported by an experienced team and with an attractive repayment for the investor.”

The idea was conceived four years ago:

“In January 2014, my 20-year career at Eurobank was completed. in which I had been hired to create from scratch its Shipping Department – accounts, policy, relationships with lawyers, brokers, buying and selling, etc.” narrates Marina Tzoutzouraki

«When I left the bank with a voluntary exit, in the same month we founded dagmar navigation limited with Dagfinn Lunde. We both had a long career in shipping, me 30 years and he did much more. Our goal was to join forces and continue to advise our clients in the finance party.

After two successful years, during which the financing was possible to be found by banks, in the form of loans and by funds in the form of sale and lease back, it came in 2016, when everything froze. Although the freight market was at an all-time low, so were the prices of ships, a situation that created ideal conditions for financing the acquisition of ships, precisely at that time the taps to shipping were closed” and continues:

“Then we thought that there should be a faster, easier and more effective way to bring together all those involved in shipping and want to buy on ships with those who want to invest in shipping projects or in financing that are secured by a mortgage and have a good return.

I started searching the internet where I found several platforms that made the middleman. You simply filled in your details, your financial situation and they gave you the terms of financing to buy a house, a car, or to make a retrofit or repair. They also gave financing terms for companies.”

Marina Tzoutzouraki along with Dagfinn Lunde, Tarun Gulati and Aparna Gulati,began to design the platform that the person who wants to buy a dry or wet cargo ship could provide the details of the ship, prepare a five-year plan -5 year business plan- using the tools used by the Banks. An analysis of the investment could be done and they could promote it on a platform where investors would have the opportunity to see the investment proposals and the risk of each proposal that had been assessed according to international standards.

“Each investment proposal can be loaned up to 50%. Investors can invest in it at a rate of 10-100%”, marina Tzoutzouraki points out:

“The methodology used to assess the investment risk and based on this the Loan Committees approve the loans is similar to that of the Banks. Whenever we are sure of the proposal we submit to the would-be investors who, for their part, have at their disposal the full analysis of the investment plan and can make their own assessment”.

Meanwhile, regualtions and compliance rules for banks have been so far as to make it impossible to finance many projects that in the past would have financed and would be profitable.

“It is no coincidence that Jack Ma’s new platform (alibaba) completed $8 trillion in trade last year. A platform that allows citizens to purchase financial products. It is the ease and speed that attract them”, underlines Marina Tzoutzouraki:

“Banks are moving in the same direction by investing in technology either by buying ready-made applications or by hiring IT experts.

When a bank to evaluate a new investment and give a shipping loan has a cost of 250,000 euros one understands that the investment and the loan in which it can proceed are limited.

For these reasons we have approached banks wanting to find a way to cooperate” and concludes by saying:

“The platform we created reduces both the cost of analyzing and preparing the five-year plan. Lawyers’ costs can also be limited, since as long as the contracts are standardized, as well as all procedures as much as possible.

Of course we know that it will take time, patience and perseverance to inform investors about the shipping industry and convince them of the reduced risk and security provided by a shipping mortgage that is commensurate with the mortgage insurance of a mortgage.

Dagfinn Lunde of the co-founders added:

“Having worked for more than 30 years in the banks and having experienced all the phases of developments in the banking sector and financing, I decided together with Tarun Gulati and Marina Tzoutzouraki that the time had come to offer a new service to shipowners in terms of maritime financing”

In turn Tarun Gulati emphasized:

“The problem in maritime finance today is that small and medium-sized shipowners do not have easy access to raising the necessary capital for the operation of their company and fleet. The reason is that the number of banks with a maritime portfolio is now limited vessel financing easily. This is because the number of banks offering boat financing is limited and there are other forms of funding. Therefore, we saw that there was a gap and the need for a change. We are confident that the will revive the accessibility of loans and improve the understanding of shipping loans, maintain low-cost transparency and management.”

The launch of this digital platform took place during the World Maritime Exhibition “Posidonia 2018” caused huge interest in the shipping community.

You can read the original article here.