Shipping finance in France

Norton Rose Fulbright

Norton Rose Fulbright‘s practice includes the financing of ships, offshore equipment, port equipment, containers and port facilities. Seeing the increasing demand for innovative financings of specialised equipment, the team has been busy advising on LPG and ethylene carriers, drill and production rigs and supply vessels, as well as specialised vessels in the offshore wind market. The firm has a keen focus on the decarbonisation of transport industries and has, for example, assisted with the financing of scrubber devices. Christine Ezcutari is the global head of transport. Alexandre Roth made partner in January 2021.

Practice head(s):

Christine Ezcutari

Other key lawyers:

Alexandre Roth 

Testimonials

‘Christine Ezcutari is available and adaptable.’

‘Good team in maritime finance. Efficient, professional and friendly.’

Key clients

BNP Paribas

Bourbon

CitiBank N.A

Crédit Agricole Corporate and Investment Bank

HSBC France

Société Générale

UniCrédit Bank AG

UniCrédit S.p.A

Work highlights

  • Advising Société Générale regarding pre-and post-delivery Bpifrance Assurance Export guaranteed facilities to finance three cruise vessels.
  • Assisting Bourbon with the shipping aspects of its restructuring.
  • Providing assistance to Citibank N.A. in relation to the ECA-backed financings of three large cruise ships.

Stephenson Harwood

Stephenson Harwood's Paris team advises most major French banks on the biggest vessel financings, restructurings, and transactions in the French market. The firm has also developed a collaboration agreement with Burgess, a yacht broker, and Hot Lab, an Italian yacht designer, to develop new financing structures for the working capital needs of Italian yacht builders. Alain Gautron is 'an absolute market leader in his practice' and is supported by stand-out senior associate Ezio Dal Maso.

Practice head(s):

Alain Gautron

Other key lawyers:

Ezio Dal Maso

Testimonials

‘Technical brilliance and intimate market and sector knowledge; reassuring presence on files; always listening to us as clients and our concerns and dealing with them thoroughly.’

‘Excellent lawyers.’

‘In Paris, the outstanding partner in shipping finance is Alain Gautron, an absolute market leader in his practice for his knowledge and deep network. Superb professional and relationship skills.’

Key clients

BNP PARIBAS

COMPAGNIE DU PONANT

SUNSTONE SHIPS

RUBIS ENERGIE

FIMAR

CORSICA FERRIES

CIC

INGÉPAR

CEPAC

CAISSE D’EPARGNE ILE DE FRANCE

CELR

Work highlights

  • Acted as counsel to the arrangers and the lenders on three French leases for special purpose companies jointly controlled by NYK and Geogas.
  • Advised the bank, the arranger, the ECA (KSURE), and the lessor in connection with two French lease financings of the first two LNG Gas carriers in France for Knutsen.
  • Assisted the bank, the arranger, and the lessor with the French lease financing of a product tanker for Sogestran.

Watson Farley & Williams LLP

Watson Farley & Williams LLP‘s shipping finance team in Paris includes English law capabilities with several dual-qualified team members, making it a go-to firm for complex multijurisdictional financings. The Paris team is led by Alexia Russell on the English law aspects, who has a ‘great expertise in the sector’, and by Laurence Martinez-Bellet on the French law aspects. With experience working for export credit agencies, the firm is often assisting key market players with the provision of finance and credit support to ships under construction.

Testimonials

‘Thanks to its expertise in the maritime sector, the firm remains an undeniable firm to help us with the legal structuring of our financing.’

‘We work regularly with Alexia Russell on our shipping files. Each time, we benefit from her great expertise in the sector and her negotiating skills to better defend our position.’

‘We have a long-standing relationship and the team has adapted to our usual legal requirements which allow us to focus on important points when negotiating documentation.’

‘Working with Alexia Russell provides the reassurance that the deal will go through smoothly and that every minute is used cleverly.’

‘Young, responsive and very available team. Excellent expertise on maritime law subjects.’

‘Excellent knowledge of the shipping sector and market practice resulting in efficient, commercially-focused legal advice.’

‘Alexia Russell is extremely proactive and responsive, providing clear and concise expert advice at all times.’

Key clients

BNP Paribas

Crédit Agricole Corporate and Investment Bank

Société Générale

Work highlights

  • Advising a working group of creditors comprising leading French banking groups on the shipping aspects of the debt restructuring of French shipowner Bourbon Maritime.

HFW

HFW‘s expertise covers the full range of shipping finance matters, including asset finance, ECA financings, acquisition finance, and financial restructuring. The firm regularly acts as counsel for world-leading shipowners, banks, private and public financial institutions, and maritime service providers. Jean-Marc Zampa has developed over 20 years of specialised expertise in complex financial transactions and has renowned experience in big-ticket ship financings under the French tax lease structure, coupled with export credit cover for cruise vessels and container ships. Senior associate Olivier Challine is valued for his ‘pragmatism’ and ‘professionalism’.

Practice head(s):

Jean-Marc Zampa

Other key lawyers:

Olivier Challine

Testimonials

‘Rigour, sense of client interest, ability to write and find innovative solutions.’

‘Olivier Challine: availability, sense of organisation, pragmatism, professionalism.’

Key clients

CMA CGM

Ingepar (BPCE Group)

Credit Agricole Corporate and Investment Bank (CACIB)

CIC

Société Générale

Hogan Lovells (Paris) LLP

‘One of the most renowned practices on the market’ for financing, Hogan Lovells (Paris) LLP has an excellent track record advising on the financing of individual vessels or portfolios of vessels, of large corporate acquisitions and restructuring matters. Acting for leading international banks in shipping finance as well as for market-leading operators, the firm handles a diverse range of financing work. Practice head Alexander Premont is lauded for his ‘in-depth technical knowledge’ in asset financing.

Practice head(s):

Alexander Premont

Testimonials

‘The practice in Paris is one of the most famous and experienced a big boost with the arrival of Alexander Premont a few years ago.’

‘The team does not hesitate to adapt its assistance proposals to our needs, both in terms of cost control (capped fees, etc.) as well as content and time.’

‘Hogan Lovells’ financing practice in Paris is one of the most renowned practices on the market. The team is dynamic, responsive and extremely competent. They have the technical arsenal and are attentive to offer solutions and guide us in our choices. In addition, Alexander Premont is receptive to our needs and formulates personalised proposals.’

‘I enjoy working with Alexander Premont for his in-depth technical knowledge of structured, asset and acquisition finance. Alexander makes a point of being involved in all of his files. He listens and is proactive in proposing pragmatic solutions. He is an excellent negotiator who streamlines exchanges between the parties.’

‘Alexander Premont is closely involved in all aspects of the transaction and has a good knowledge of the market. He works hard to give us the best result.’

‘Hogan Lovells has a practice that covers a wide range of financing (acquisition and assets (ships, aircraft and other significant assets)) on behalf of banks, investors, lessors, lessees and owners. They have excellent visibility of market conditions and a real knowledge of the sector. Our teams appreciate the involvement of team members, their availability and their enthusiasm despite the complexity of the files and the tight deadlines. Our team’s operational staff can count on a team that is committed to finding a solution to our transactional and legal issues.’

‘Alexander Premont balances the demands of sound legal documentation with the necessary business flexibility. He has a very good knowledge of the specifics of financing, particularly in the maritime sector.’

Key clients

Société Générale

BNP Paribas (Suisse) SA

Credit Agricole Corporate and Investment Bank

ABN AMRO

Natixis

UBS

Bred Banque Populaire

Caisse D’Epargne

Seaowl

Willkie Farr & Gallagher LLP

Willkie Farr & Gallagher LLP finance practice stands out through its primary focus on  work for liners and shipyards. Among others, the team handles the construction financing of new vessels, matters involving letters of intent, shipbuilding contracts, and refund guarantees. Recent matters also included financings for equipment bought to comply with environmental regulations. Brice Pommiès is the head of the shipping finance practice.

Practice head(s):

Brice Pommiès

Testimonials

‘Exceptional competence and availability of Brice Pommiès, whose communication and negotiating skills are also remarkable.’

Key clients

CMA CGM

Chantiers de l’Atlantique

Work highlights

  • Advised Chantiers de l’Atlantique in connection with the documentation entered into with a new cruise line (backed by a private equity sponsor) for two firm and two option cruise vessels.
  • Assisted CMA CGM with innovative financing relating to the acquisition and installation of scrubber equipment on vessels owned or chartered by CMA CGM.

Reed Smith

Reed Smith has an in-depth understanding of the risks and liabilities faced by owners, investors, or financiers in the maritime sector. The team has experience in acquisitions, traditional bank loans, private equity investments, joint venture arrangements, and restructurings.

Stream – Avocats et Solicitors

Stream – Avocats et Solicitors assists clients in the shipping and offshore energy industries with all aspects of marine asset financing. The team's expertise ranges from straightforward bilateral bank facilities to more complex transactions such as tax leases, non-recourse facilities, equity financings. Advising both borrowers and lenders in default situations, the firm handles loan restructuring, and is experienced in the enforcement of vessel arrests and freezing orders. Aymeric de Tapol heads the practice.

Practice head(s):

Aymeric de Tapol

Key clients

Louis Dreyfus Armateurs

Hapag-Lloyd

CA-CIB

Société Générale Private Banking (Monaco)

ABN AMRO

CGG

SOGESTRAN Group

EDF

CORSICA LINEA

Les Abeilles