FEBRUARY 3, 2014 — A niche merchant bank providing mortgage based lending to the maritime and offshore industries plans to start operations in April.
Maritime & Merchant AS (M&M) (TBR Maritime & Merchant Bank ASA) has received regulatory approval to operate a private bank in Norway.
When plans for the new bank were announced last year, the main sponsoring shareholders were Arne Blystad, Henning Oldendorff, Nergaard Investment Partners, controlled by Alex and Birger Nergaard and Landmark Holdings in Shanghai.
"M&M filed a banking license application on November 13, 2013 and we are very pleased with the rapid handling of the application, which now allows us to fully concentrate on the forthcoming capital issue, completion of the core bank system and putting the organisation together,'' says Managing Director Halvor Sveen (formerly Senior Vice President, Offshore & Shipping at Pareto Bank ASA). "We are currently preparing for a capital issue with a target of $300-350 million in equity to fund operations. We have selected Pareto Securities AS and DNB Markets as joint lead managers and bookrunners, with Cleaves Securities to act as financial advisor."
Over the past years, the introduction of stricter capital requirements, in combination with the severe impact the financial crisis had on the banking community in general, has forced many banks to either discontinue lending to owners, or scale back on activities in ship finance. This tight credit market has left many small- to medium-sized owners facing difficulties when seeking financing, says Mr. Sveen.
"There are interesting opportunities out there," Mr. Sveen says, "with a market emerging from a down cycle, favorable asset prices and, currently, increasing rates in some sectors. But smaller and medium-sized players, even those with an excellent reputation, can't take advantage of that without accessing finance."
M&M will be a small operation conducting business on a personal level, keeping overheads as low as possible while focusing on quality assurance during the entire decision process. M&M thinks this is possible based on a business concept that concentrates on mortgage based lending to an industry that the management team comes from and understands.
"At M&M, we implicitly understand our clients needs and they understand us. You talk straight to the person that can help, your banking partner," says Mr. Sveen.