Shipping finance in France

Norton Rose Fulbright

Transport and asset financing continues to be a core area of focus globally at Norton Rose Fulbright, which is reflected in the type of instructions received by the Paris-based team who are able to advise on both English and French law matters. The practice is particularly well versed advising on matters relating to ships, port equipment, offshore equipment and containers. It has noted an increase in demand for assistance with innovative financings of specialised equipment such as LPG and Ethylene carriers, drill and production rights and supply vessels. The team is primarily retained by financial institutions that benefit from the firm's full-service capabilities. It also advises several shipowners where it typically handles tax and corporate matters. Christine Ezcutari, who is a board member of the Women International Shipping and Trading Association, specialises in structured finance. Alexandre Roth handles domestic and international financing.

Practice head(s):

Christine Ezcutari

Other key lawyers:

Alexandre Roth

Key clients

BNP Paribas

Bourbon Maritime

Bpifrance Assurance Export

Bred Banque Populaire

Citibank, N.A.

Crédit Agricole Corporate and Investment Bank

HSBC

Société Générale

Mauritius Commercial Bank

NYK Group Limited

UniCredit Bank

Work highlights

  • Advising Société Générale on pre-and post-delivery Bpifrance Assurance Export-guaranteed facilities to finance three cruise vessels.
  • Advising Bourbon on the shipping aspects of its restructuring.
  • Assisting Citibank with the ECA-backed financings of three large cruise ships under construction at Chantiers de l’Atlantique.

Stephenson Harwood

Stephenson Harwood acts on major vessel financings and restructurings in the domestic and international market, working in close tandem with the firm's offices in key maritime jurisdictions such as China, London, Dubai, Piraeus, Singapore and Seoul. Retained by several leading French banks including BNP Paribas and CIC, it provides advice relating to the full range of asset finance matters. Alain Gautron, who sits on the Board of Directors of the French Maritime Institute, a French think tank involved in determining policies for the future development of industries related to the maritime sectors in France, leads the department. He is assisted by senior associate Ezio Dal Maso, who is well versed in all areas of commercial shipping, cruises, super yachts and business jets.

Practice head(s):

Alain Gautron

Other key lawyers:

Ezio Dal Maso

Key clients

BNP Paribas

Compagnie du Ponant

Sunstone Ships

Rubis Energie

Jifmar Offshore Services

Compagnie Fluviale de Transport (CFT)

Fimar

Corsica Ferries

CIC

Ingépar

CEPAC

Caisse d’Epargne Ile de France

CELR

Work highlights

  • Advised lenders and Compagnie du Ponant on the implementation of debt holiday principles and restructuring of debt as a result of the Covid-19 outbreak.
  • Advised the arrangers and the lenders on three French tax lease financings arranged by different pools of banks for special purpose companies jointly controlled by NYK and Geogas in connection with the construction and exploitation of three newbuild LNG carriers to be operated under the French flag.
  • Advised BNP Paribas and BPCE as arrangers and investors, and BNP Paribas, various BPCE group banks (CERA, CEPAC and BRED), SMBC and MUFG as senior lenders on the financing of two vessels combining a project-based limited recourse financing with a French lease financing.

Watson Farley & Williams LLP

Clients of Watson Farley & Williams LLP benefit from the firm's presence in all major ship finance centres, with the group experienced in advising on French, English, German, Italian, New York and Marshall Islands law. The team is retained by a mix of lenders to the shipping industry and export credit agencies, which increasingly instruct the department on restructurings, work-outs and enforcement matters. Asset and project finance specialist Alexia Russell leads on English law matters and jointly heads the practice alongside Laurence Martinez-Bellet, who focuses on cross-border transactions and is also the key contact for issues relating to French law.

Practice head(s):

Laurence Martinez-Bellet; Alexia Russell

Key clients

B.A.I. (Bretagne Angleterre Irlande)

BNP Paribas

Crédit Agricole Corporate and Investment Bank

Société Générale

HFW

HFW's shipping finance group is retained on a broad range of matters which include asset finance, export credit agency financings, acquisition finance and restructurings. Jean-Marc Zampa represents a diverse client base of shipowners, banks, financial institutions and maritime service providers, and has a strong track record handling big-ticket ship financings. He is assisted by Timothy Clemens-Jones who specialises in international transportation and trade, and is dual qualified in France and England.

Practice head(s):

Jean-Marc Zampa

Other key lawyers:

Timothy Clemens-Jones

Key clients

Corsica Linea

CMA CGM

Corsica Linea

Helvetia

Jifmar

Ingepar (BPCE Group)

Credit Agricole Corporate and Investment Bank (CACIB)

CIC

Hogan Lovells (Paris) LLP

Hogan Lovells (Paris) LLP houses a broad shipping finance practice with experience advising on financings for the full range of vessel types as well as debt and capital markets financings. The team also has a strong track record in superyacht financing and is highly regarded for its work related to the full range of tax leasing matters. On the transactional side, the group specialises in high-end, structured and corporate acquisitions and reorganisations, typically representing leading international banks. Alexander Premont leads the department and covers cross-border acquisitions, leveraged finance, and asset financings, among other matters.

Practice head(s):

Alexander Premont

Testimonials

Its main qualities: – Expertise in yachting – Well organized team, reactive and providing us with significant time savings which is a scarce resource.

Alexander Premont is available for all sensitive questions. When we send him the points we realize that he has followed the transaction from end to end.

Key clients

Société Générale

BNP Paribas (Suisse) SA

CACIB

ABN AMRO

Natixis

UBS

Bred

Caisse D’Epargne

SeaOwl

Work highlights

  • Advised Société Générale on the financing of eight vessels for a joint venture vehicle between Louis Dreyfus Armateurs and Abu Dhabi Ports Company.
  • Advised Cathay Capital and SeaOwl on the financing of the acquisition of Sofresud and the refinancing of the group’s existing debt as part of the expansion of its operations.
  • Advised Société Générale and KBC Bank on the financing of one heavy lifting vessel for the Deme Group.

Willkie Farr & Gallagher LLP

Willkie Farr & Gallagher LLP has developed a niche shipping finance practice, acting primarily for liners and shipyards such as CMA CGM, as opposed to financial institutions. The team has advised on the construction financing of new build vessels as well as shipbuilding contracts and refund guarantees. Corporate finance specialist Brice Pommiès leads the department and is well versed in advising on sale-and-leasebacks, high yield financings, restructurings and corporate matters.

Practice head(s):

Brice Pommiès

Key clients

CMA CGM

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

Neptune Orient Lines (NOL)

Work highlights

  • Advised CMA CGM on a €1.05bn loan arranged by BNP Paribas, HSBC and Société Générale as part of France’s state-guaranteed loan scheme in response to Covid-19.
  • Advised Chantiers de l’Atlantique (formerly STX France) on the construction financing of a new vessel ordered by Royal Caribbean Cruises.
  • Advising CMA CGM on financing relating to the acquisition and installation of scrubber equipment on its fleet.

Reed Smith

Reed Smith is experienced in the full spectrum of shipping finance matters and acts for a range of clients which include export credit agencies, banks and non-bank lenders, shipping companies and private equity houses. Restructurings, portfolio acquisitions and sales, and export credit agency-backed financings all make up a key part of the department's work. Victoria Westcott and Florent Rigaud jointly lead the practice.

Practice head(s):

Victoria Westcott; Florent Rigaud

Stream – Avocats et Solicitors

Stream – Avocats et Solicitors advises clients in the shipping and offshore energy industries on all aspects of marine asset financing. The team represents a diverse range of owners, operators and banks and is experienced in limited recourse financing, syndicated and bilateral loan transactions and tax lease structures. Practice head Aymeric de Tapol specialises in structured and project financings.

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