SMM Hamburg Ready for a New Beginning

Posted by Michelle Howard
Thursday, February 13, 2014

At the SMM Ship Finance Forum just ahead of SMM, the leading international maritime trade fair hamburg, experts will discuss the potential and prospects for new ship financing models.

In spite of low newbuilding prices, the total number of ship orders is declining around the world. Financing difficulties are part of the problem, and new concepts are in demand to revitalise the market. "In ship finance we have to address two separate issues: On the one hand, we need to put the fleet in service on a more solid financial basis. After a five-year double crisis – one affecting the financial, the other the shipping markets – that may be a tall order. On the other hand we need to finance new tonnage to be commissioned over the next few years. In the wake of the crisis, this often calls for new partners and new conditions," said Dr. Max Johns, Managing Director of the German Shipowners Association (Verband Deutscher Reeder, VDR) and member of the Advisory Board of SMM, the leading trade event for the global shipping industry. Held biennially, SMM (9 to 12 September 2014) is a major gathering place for the Who's Who of the maritime business.

Distinguished Experts

Under the motto, "A New Beginning", the Ship Finance Forum 2014, held one day ahead of the fair, will address global financing issues facing the shipbuilding and shipping industries. Top-flight industry experts will discuss current opportunities and challenges. "The Ship Finance Forum has become an essential event in the maritime calendar. Through its close affiliation with SMM it enjoys excellent visibility as Hamburg assumes its role as the undisputed world capital of shipping," says VDR Managing Director Johns who also teaches Ship Finance at the Hamburg School of Business Administration (HSBA).

The motto of the event highlights the sense of anticipation growing in the industry: "SMM is a major technology trend-setter for the shipping industry: We are dealing with enormous challenges, such as the emission control areas and the ballast water convention. SMM will surely offer inspiring insight on both topics," Johns assures. After all, both of these challenges are associated with substantial capital investments.

Three Overarching Topics

The SMM Ship Finance Forum will focus on three overarching topics: The first part will look at current developments in the German market. US investors are entering the German market in increasing numbers, primarily seeking to invest in newbuilding projects. Yet, conventional bank financing schemes continue to be in demand, as well. A Norwegian-German group of investors has established a new ship financing bank recently.

The second topical segment, titled "Shipyards: Financing Shipbuilding, Financing Exports", will examine the efforts of many shipyards to finance exports. Part 3 ("Global Financing Trends – Bonds, Leasing, IPOS") will highlight alternative financing models in the market which compete with traditional schemes.

Blue Sea – Blue Wonder

The SMM Ship Finance Forum will also address the protection of the maritime environment. SMM, as the leading global maritime trade fair, has adopted the logo of the German Federal Government's initiative "The Sea, Our Blue Wonder". The ambiguity of the German term "blaues Wunder", blue wonder, which also means "shocking experience", alludes to the threatened maritime environment. The initiative awards projects across all of Germany aimed at raising awareness of the importance of healthy seas for the global climate, the economy and the well-being of humanity. In 2014, Germany will host the annual "European Maritime Day (EMD)" for the first time, providing an excellent opportunity to encourage the public discussion of maritime policy, biological diversity and the complexity of maritime ecosystems and their interaction with human civilisation. This topic will figure prominently in both, the SMM Ship Finance Forum and the SMM itself. "I am convinced we will see innovative technologies and surprises at the fair once again which will bring about further advances in ship efficiency and environment protection," Johns said.

From national and international players to the future role of banks and investors and the consequences of new environmental regulations, the SMM Ship Finance Forum in Hamburg will address all major issues concerning the ship finance sector.


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