Thursday, November 5, 2009

Finance For Shipping In Short Supply In Asia But Hopes For London Gateway Container Port

Asian Banks Reluctant to Comment on Funding Slowdown
Shipping News Feature

SINGAPORE – LONDON - Having just returned from a trade mission to China, Singapore’s Second Minister for Finance and Transport, Mrs Lim Hwee Hua, spoke out at yesterdays inaugural DnB NOR Asian Investor conference and commented on the growing unwillingness of banks in the region to lend money for shipping projects. She told the gathering that ship owners are having to seek finance elsewhere and estimated an injection of around $350 billion would have to be found to finance foreseeable future shipbuilding projects.

She understood that approximately half of Asia’s banks had stopped investing in shipping related projects. Needless to say bankers themselves were tight lipped about their own transactions but hosts of the meeting, DnB Nor Bank said that they were looking after existing customers’ interests but agreed that finance for new projects might have difficulty in finding finance. Over 200 investment agencies attended the event including hedge fund and institutional investors.

Mrs Lim commented on the recently signed Memorandum of Understanding between the Oslo Bourse (stock exchange) and Singapore’s own Exchange which is specifically designed to assist in the listing of shipping companies as well as energy interests.

Meanwhile in Europe rumours are rife that the European Investment Bank (EIB) is about to approve a £300 million loan to kick start the first phase of the DP World London Gateway Container Port project. As reported here earlier £12.7 million was provided for a controversial dredging of the river approach just last week and yesterday John Denham, Secretary of State for Local Government, told the Thames Gateway forum that a competition was now under way to find a suitable partner for a Public – Private Partnership (PPI) to raise funds for the regeneration of 48 hectares of local brownfield land to develop local amenities.

pic: Mrs Lim Hwee Hua