Chinese Banks Lend Money to Foreign Ship Owners.
The Chinese government's revitalizing plan for the shipbuilding industry promulgated last year encourages financial institutions to provide loans for foreign customers of major homegrown shipbuilders. As a result, Chinese banks are foraying into the global ship financing market. On February 1, 2010, The Export-Import Bank of China (China Eximbank) inked an agreement with Torm, providing the latter with USD 170 million for six new ships to be built from 2010 to 2012
Torm says Chinese lenders participated in its financing of 12 new ships. Although the Danish ship owners have plans to obtain loans from banks of other countries, it finds out that offers of the Chinese parties are very lucrative.
Since September 2008, when the financial crisis broke out, Chinese lenders have offered loans of billions of US dollars to ship owners in Europe and the US.
Rampant talks say that ship loans provided by Chinese banks have risen by more than 10%.
Major Chinese lenders have unanimously extended their reach to the ship financing market, including Bank of China Limited (BOC, SEHK: 3988 and SHSE: 601988), China Construction Bank Corporation (CCB, SEHK: 0939, and SHSE: 601939), Bank of Communications Co., Ltd. (BoCom, SHSE: 601328, and SEHK: 3328), and China Development Bank (CDB).
Industrial and Commercial Bank of China Limited (ICBC, SEHK: 1398, and SHSE: 601398) even lured an important European customer from a local peer, which was unimaginable in the past years.
A lawyer specialized in ship financing points out that Chinese banks support homegrown shipbuilders, which hire many labor forces and consume steel products produced by local steelmakers.
The ships built by domestic shipbuilders will be used to carry iron ores from Australia and coals from South Africa, which in turn pushes up the Chinese economy.
By far, there have been few reports about the transactions between Chinese lenders and European and US ship owners. One of them was a loan of USD 389 million offered by China Eximbank to Overseas Shipholding Group (NYSE: OSG). Thus, guesses arise that Chinese banks only grant loans to homegrown companies and their oversea subsidiaries.
The aforesaid lawyer discloses that customers of Chinese lenders include shipping giants engaged in the transportation of containers and dry bulk cargos. However, the loans for oil tankers are limited to Hong Kong ship owners.
Chinese banks are fastidious to select the objects of their loans. Some ship owners with bad credit standing have been turned down for their intentions to obtain loans from Chinese lenders, revealed Erik Lassen, CEO of Danish Ship Finance.