Sumitomo Mitsui to Double Overseas Banking Staff

Wednesday, November 07, 2007
According to a Bloomberg report, Sumitomo Mitsui Financial Group Inc. will double its overseas banking staff that works on financing for ship construction, as Japan's biggest arranger of such deals tries to take advantage of surging demand for vessels. China's appetite for iron ore will boost demand for vessels with cargo capacity of more than 100,000 tons by 44 percent between last year and 2010, according to a report last month by Mitsui O.S.K. Lines Ltd., owner of the world's largest merchant fleet. Corporate lending at Japan's biggest banks contracted 0.7 percent from a year earlier in September, the sixth straight month of declines, a Bank of Japan report showed last month. Sumitomo Mitsui lent $2.7b for ship construction in 2006, according to the U.S. magazine Marine Money. The bank reportedly aims to double ship finance staff outside Japan to 40 in three years. It sent two ship finance bankers to Singapore in September and plans also to increase staff at its Shanghai office. The Baltic Dry Index, a benchmark for prices to ship bulk commodities such as iron ore and coal, rose to a record last month and surged 150 percent in past 12 months, according to the London-based Baltic Exchange. The daily charter fee for the largest vessels rose to $184,469 on average last month, from an average $60,916 last year, according to the exchange. The global ship finance market is worth more than $50b annually, Sumitomo Trust & Banking Co. said in a report in July. The index tracking 10 Japanese maritime transport companies increased 2.7 percent at the 3 p.m. close in Tokyo, the best performance among 33 industry groups in the benchmark Topix. The index has risen 74 percent in the past 12 months, the biggest gainer, as the nation's largest shippers including Mitsui O.S.K. predict record full-year profits. The benchmark fell 2.6 percent during the same period. Nordea Bank AB, the largest Nordic bank, and smaller DnB NOR ASA, were the largest arrangers of ship finance deals globally last year, putting together more than $13b in loans each, according to Marine Money. Sumitomo Mitsui's $2.7b in loans was more than double the ship financing by larger Mitsubishi UFJ Financial Group Inc. and Mizuho Financial Group Inc., the magazine reported. Sumitomo Mitsui shares declined 0.5 percent to 842,000 yen in Tokyo at the market close. [Source: Bloomberg]

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