Ship financing a drive for further development of Cyprus maritime cluster says Shipping Deputy Minister

We foresee ship financing as another drive to further develop our maritime cluster, particularly in view of the new opportunities arising in Cyprus following the privatisation of the Limassol port and the discovery of hydrocarbons in our EEZ, Deputy Minister of Shipping, Natasa Pilides has said.

Addressing on Wednesday the 2nd Annual Marine Money Cyprus Forum that took place in the coastal city of Limassol, Pilides said that offshore exploration and production of gas and oil, as well as their transportation ashore, require the operation of specialised ships and equipment and the supply of specialised supporting services.

With direct and easy access to the various shipping markets situated along the coasts of the Levant, the North Adriatic and Black Sea as well as access to other main-line deep sea trades across the Mediterranean, Cyprus is set to strengthen its position as a key regional transport hub and soon, we hope, an energy centre in the eastern Mediterranean region, she said.

Pilides pointed out that at the Ministry they aim to enhance the cluster in every way they can, not only for the benefit of our economy, but also, and importantly, to ensure that every single company operating in the shipping sector in Cyprus feels part of an advanced cluster which caters to its every need.

High quality and expertise in specialised services are values which matter to us more than anything else. As part of the public sector, we aim to follow private sector standards in the provision of services, both in terms of speed and in terms of quality. That’s why we offer 24-hour, personalised services, 365 days a year. By remaining close to the private sector, we aim to listen to our clients and to ensure that we change and adapt in ways that will add value to the industry. We also aim to contribute as much as we can to the further development of our cluster, she added.

She also underlined that in the last few years we witnessed a significant increase in the number of shipping companies maintaining offices in Cyprus, many of them offering new maritime services and activities. Pilides also added that in the last two years, Cyprus welcomed the establishment of three marine academies , new ship insurance companies and P and I Clubs and the entrance of Cypriot banks to the ship finance market. The provision of ship finance services in Cyprus was long awaited by our shipping industry which can now have additional options of access to capital to finance its plans, she said.

Demetra Kalogerou, the Chairwoman of CySEC (Cyprus Securities and Exchange Commission (CySEC) said that in the recent years the supervisory remit has widened substantially to include new groups of supervised firms and products, including collective investment schemes, fund managers, and administrative service providers.

She added that the CySEC places great emphasis on the development of the collective investment and asset management sector due to the numerous advantages it generates for the Cypriot economy as an alternative form of finance. This, Kalogerou said, strengthens the establishment of Cyprus as an international services center.

Shipping loans, including export credit financing and leasing, have been the traditional source of finance in shipping. In the last years however, especially after the financial crisis, significant private equity money have flowed into shipping, through the establishment of funds as banks have no longer the lending capacity as they used to have or they are not willing to lend.

Increasingly, private equity funds are becoming a prominent feature on the ship finance landscape. Ship-owners may obtain better access to financial, commercial and related mar�kets by utilising the private equity funds’ broad investor base. Also, private equity funds they are able to offer more flexible lending solutions, she added.

In her speech Kalogerou also said that CySEC in its effort to make the whole investment fund regime in Cyprus even more attractive, promotes a variety of changes to the legal framework governing collective investment schemes in Cyprus.

Source: Cyprus News Agency