Shipping finance in France

Norton Rose Fulbright

The 'very available and responsive' team at Norton Rose Fulbright focuses on asset financing, primarily relating to ships, offshore equipment, port equipment, containers and port facilities. The bulk of the team's client base consists of financial institutions. In recent work, the team advised a bank on the post-delivery aspects of the €2.5bn export credit agency-backed term loan facility to finance the world's largest cruise ship, Symphony of the Seas. Practice head Christine Ezcutari and senior associate Paolo Pinna rare 'excellent professionals, very responsive and very available'. Counsel Alexandre Roth is also recommended.

Practice head(s):

Christine Ezcutari


Good team, very available and responsive. The response to our problems has been perfectly adapted.

We have worked with Christine Ezcutari and Paolo Pinna. Both are excellent professionals, very responsive and very available. Paolo Pinna has shown great mastery, diplomacy and experience in the context of a complex and sometimes intense negotiation. He was undoubtedly an asset by also showing creativity and listening to bring the parties to balanced and satisfactory compromises.

Work highlights

  • Advising a leading bank on post-delivery aspects of the €2.5bn ECA-backed term loan facility to finance the world’s largest cruise ship, Symphony of the Seas.

Stephenson Harwood

Stephenson Harwood 'combines unique expertise in law and tax in France and internationally in the field of maritime financing', allowing the team to assist clients with global matters. The practice offers 'innovative solutions' to major financial institutions, ship operators and transport service providers, including BNP Paribas. Alain Gautron, who has 'a deep knowledge of the maritime sector', advised Compagnie des Pêches de Saint-Malo on the construction and financing of its new vessel Emeraude in a cross-border matter with a high value. Aude de Chavanne, formerly a counsel, left the firm in September 2019.  

Practice head(s):

Alain Gautron


Stephenson Harwood combines unique expertise in law and tax in France and internationally in the field of maritime financing. This alliance allows them to offer innovative solutions to a wide range of situations and problems encountered.

Alain Gautron has a deep knowledge of the maritime sector which allows him to be one step ahead of his colleagues. Stéphane Salou is the essential reference in tax matters for asset financing and especially maritime financing. Ezio Dal Maso shows a great commitment which allows him to deliver high quality documentation, sometimes in very tight timing.

Key clients

BNP Paribas

Jifmar Offshore Services

Sunstone Ships

La Banque Postale

Corsica Ferries

Compagnie Fluviale de Transport (CFT)

Compagnie du Ponant


Compagnie des Pêches Saint Malo





Work highlights

  • Negotiating the construction and financing of ten small expedition cruise vessels for the Arctic and Antarctic on behalf of SunStone Ships.
  • Advised Compagnie du Ponant on two French tax lease financings, coupled with Norwegian export credit support.
  • Advised Compagnie des Pêches de Saint-Malo on the construction and financing of its new vessel Emeraude.

Watson Farley & Williams LLP

Watson Farley & Williams LLP's team has 'expert knowledge of the maritime industry'. The firm has a global reach which ensures it 'covers all jurisdictions in Europe, the Middle East and Asia'. Clients, including lenders to the shipping industry and export credit agencies, have instructed the practice to advise on a number of restructurings, work-outs and enforcements. Between them, joint practice heads Laurence Martinez-Bellet and Alexia Russell are 'qualified under French and English law, which is a big asset'.


Expert knowledge of the maritime industry. Ability to support clients in different jurisdictions and with different structures. Very responsive and very professional.

WFW has an historical presence within shipping finance and large coverage of the main maritime clusters with dedicated teams. Good coordination and relationship between its teams is a real strength. Low turnover of key individual persons is really a plus.

The team is highly specialised in shipping finance and covers all jurisdictions in Europe, the Middle East and Asia for instance.

Combination of excellent expertise in shipping finance and a pragmatic approach makes the team very reliable.

What has always struck me at WFW Paris is the combination of a particularly fine and detailed knowledge of law and jurisprudence, with an analysis and a broad view of things. The latter is the most distinctive characteristic compared to other law firms. When some companies are still preparing papers and court decisions, WFW gives the singular impression of keeping one step ahead (at least). This sense of anticipation, this innate ability to identify the most strategic points, allows this company to address emerging issues earlier than its competitors. WFW knows how to make the most of its international network and the relationships between partners from different countries seem to offer a simplicity that is not repeated in all other companies. The general feeling is that you can establish a tailor-made relationship with WFW, whereas other firms provide you with off-the-shelf content.

Alexia Russell always has concrete answers to specific legal issues occurring during negotiations with our counterparts. She is the brightest and best law partner currently practising in Paris under English law for shipping transactions.

Alexia Russell shows a great availability and a first-line commitment in the negotiation and documentation process. Compared to other international law firms where the partners appear only at the first meeting, Alexia remains involved in the whole process.

Laurence Martinez-Bellet is dedicated to her clients, highly knowledgeable and excellent in negotiation. One of the best lawyers in her sector and very pleasant to work with.

Very supportive/reactive and deeply involved on each legal issue. Easily reachable which makes a huge difference from other law firms in this sector.

Alexia and Charles are both qualified under French and English law, which is a big asset.

Key clients

BNP Paribas

Brittany Ferries

Crédit Agricole Corporate and Investment Bank


Société Générale


Work highlights

  • Advising BNP Paribas and a syndicate of four other banks on a $439m Sinosure-backed financing of 86 scrubbers.
  • Assisting Technip with a £70.5m financing agreement of the newbuild diving support vessel Deep Discoverer, arranged by CIC and BNP Paribas.


HFW's shipping finance team handles a broad spectrum of matters, including  asset finance, export credit agency financings, acquisition finance and financial restructurings, with a particular focus on structured and tax-advantaged finance work. In recent work, the group advised several financial institutions on a high-value cross-border vessel financing matter. Practice head Jean-Marc Zampa acts for a wide range of clients, including shipowners, major shipping industry players, banks, private and public financial institutions and maritime services providers.

Practice head(s):

Jean-Marc Zampa

Key clients

Ingepar (Groupe BPCE)

Natixis (BPCE Group)

Work highlights

  • Advising BNP Paribas, BRED Banque Populaire, Banque CIC Nord Ouest and Caisse Régionale de Crédit Agricole Mutuel de Normandie-Seine on the acquisition of Compagnie Maritime Nantaise by Sogestran.

Hogan Lovells (Paris) LLP

The team at Hogan Lovells (Paris) LLP advises banks and other clients on the financing of a wide range of vessels, from LNG vessels, tankers and superyachts through to bulk carriers, ferries, and cruise ships. The group is also able to draw on specialists across the firm to provide a cross-disciplinary service and frequently works with the firm's restructuring practice. The team was further strengthened by the arrival of senior associate Cristina Marin, a banking and finance specialist, from Weil, Gotshal & Manges LLPAlexander Premont heads the practice.

Practice head(s):

Alexander Premont

Key clients

Société Générale

BNP Paribas (Suisse) SA






Work highlights

  • Advised Société Générale on the financing of eight vessels for a joint venture vehicle between the French global marine transport and services group Louis Dreyfus Armateurs SAS, and the UAE entity Abu Dhabi Ports Company PJSC.
  • Assisted Cathay Capital and SeaOwl with the acquisition of Sofresud and the refinancing of the groups’ existing debt as part of the expansion of its operations.
  • Advised Société Générale on the French and English law aspects of the lease financing of Mol Motivator.

Willkie Farr & Gallagher LLP

Willkie Farr & Gallagher LLP occupies a niche position in the shipping finance market with its focus on acting for liners and shipyards rather than financial institutions. Clients include large container shipping company CMA CGM and French shipyard Chantiers de l’Atlantique. Debt financings, sale-and-leaseback issues, high-yield financing work and restructuring matters make up the bulk of work handled by the practice. Practice head Brice Pommiès  is 'very rigorous' and stands out for his 'technical' knowledge.

Practice head(s):

Brice Pommiès


Brice Pommiès is very rigorous, invested, and technical.

Key clients


Chantiers de l’Atlantique (f/k/a STX France)


Work highlights

  • Advising Chantiers de l’Atlantique on the construction financing of a new vessel ordered by Royal Caribbean Cruises.
  • Assisted CMA CGM with the acquisition and installation of scrubber equipment on vessels owned or chartered by the client.
  • Advised CMA CGM on the financing of nine new 22,000 TEU (Twenty-Foot Equivalent Unit) liquefied natural gas vessels.

Reed Smith

Reed Smith acts for banks and non-bank lenders, export credit agencies, private equity houses and shipping companies. Key names to note include joint practice heads Victoria Westcott and counsel Florent Rigaud. The team assists with the full spectrum of matters in the space, including financial restructuring, portfolio acquisitions and sales, and export credit agency-backed financings.

Stream – Avocats et Solicitors

Stream – Avocats et Solicitors recently gained Corsica Linea and Sea Tankers Shipping as new clients. Areas of expertise include advising on bilateral loan transactions, limited recourse financing, syndicated transactions, and tax lease structures. The firm affirmed its focus on yacht financing by advising a UAE-based ultra high-net-worth individuals on the refinancing of a yacht by a major European bank in a cross-border matter. Aymeric de Tapol is the key name to note.

Practice head(s):

Aymeric de Tapol

Key clients




Louis Dreyfus Armateurs

Work highlights

  • Advising Corsica Linea on the financing of an LNG-powered ferry arranged by Crédit Agricole Corporate and Investment Bank, to be built by Visentini Shipyard.
  • Assisting a UAE-based ultra high-net-worth individual with refinancing a yacht, where the financing was provided by a major European bank.