Shipping finance in Greece

Norton Rose Fulbright

Norton Rose Fulbright recently advised Amsterdam Trade Bank in respect of a loan of three ships to Poseidon Containers and also recently acted for Costamare on its purchase of a 60% share in five 14,000TEU vessels from York Capital. The practice actively handles cross-border matters with the capacity to advise on both Greek and English law. It is headed by one of the market’s most renowned names, Dimitri Sofianopoulos, whose areas of expertise include asset finance, fleet acquisitions, management agreements, demise charterparties and international capital markets. Yianni Cheilas is another name to note, delivering specialist knowledge of debt finance transactions, secured and unsecured facilities and export credit-based transactions.

Practice head(s):

Dimitri Sofianopoulos

Key clients

Alpha Bank A.E.

ABN AMRO Bank N.V.

Piraeus Bank A.E.

ING Bank N.V.

HSBC Bank plc

LMZ Shipping S.A.

Empire Bulkers Limited

Hellenic Carriers Corporation S.A.

Commonwealth Bank of Australia

DVB Bank SE

Nordea Bank Finland plc

National Bank of Greece S.A.

Eurobank Ergasias S.A.

Credit Suisse AG

Citigroup

Skandinaviska Enskilda Bank (AB)

Fortress Credit Advisors LLC

Bank of America Merill Lynch

Amsterdam Trade Bank N.V.

Safe Bulkers Inc.

Latsco Shipping Limited

Costamare Inc.

National Australia Bank

Korean Development Bank

Work highlights

  • Representing certain lenders in the financial restructuring of Toisa, one of the largest offshore and ocean-going ship operators.
  • Advising Orix Investment and Management Private Limited, as mortgagee  bank, on its rights under a $7.3m facility agreement.
  • Advised Amsterdam Trade Bank N.V. in respect of a three-ship loan to Poseidon Containers LLC.

Watson Farley & Williams – Greek Branch

Watson Farley & Williams – Greek Branch fields a team ‘of seasoned professionals with a highly-regarded expertise in maritime law’. The group advises financiers and borrowers alike on both English and Greek law considerations and recently acted for Danaos Corporation in reducing its debt of $2.2bn by approximately a quarter through a comprehensive restructuring and refinancing scheme. Practice head George Paleokrassas is a leading practitioner for the structuring and restructuring of loan transactions, transactions involving the transfer of shipping loan portfolios and distressed assets, long-term charter agreements and leasing transactions. He also frequently represents owners, operators and investors in shipbuilding projects. Senior associate Konstantinos Mexias is dual-qualified in Greece and New York, representing a number of US-listed shipping companies on finance transactions.  

Practice head(s):

George Paleokrassas

Testimonials

‘WFW Greece features a fully fledged team of seasoned professionals who have developed highly regarded expertise in Maritime Law. What makes these professionals unique is a combination of strong commitment towards their clients and their objectives, an ability of delivering high quality work in sometimes short timeframe and a wide range of capabilities (from plain vanilla loans to ECA, leasing transactions, restructuring).’

‘Alexia Hatzimichalis has consistently shown an ability and commitment to assist us in achieving our goals always to our entire satisfaction and often under significant time pressure. She has been a greatly valued partner in the transactions we worked together and we always know we can rely on her for our most challenging projects.’

‘Specialized knowledge of ship finance. Follows market developments. Responsive to client needs.’

‘Vassiliki Georgopoulos does an excellent business managing the associates, is always available and makes sure to respond punctually. Very helpful in negotiations, usually able to find a mutually acceptable solution.’

‘The team has many years of experience in shipping finance, a great knowledge of the local and international market and good relationships with many owners which assist in ensuring a smooth negotiation process. It also benefits from the assistance from the WFW network in several other jurisdictions.’

Key clients

Danaos Corporation

HSBC Bank plc

EnTrust Global

Star Bulk

Deutsche Bank

Hellenic Bank

HSH Nordbank

Korea Development Bank

Skandinaviska Enskilda Banken AB (SEB)

Credit Suisse

Credit Agricole Corporate and Investment Bank

DNB Bank ASA

Work highlights

  • Advised Credit Agricole – CIB, a leading international ship finance bank, on the financing of Poseidon Containers in relation to the merger between Global Ship Lease and Poseidon Containers.
  • Advised Norway’s DNB Bank ASA (“DNB”), as facility agent and security agent for a syndicate of banks comprising itself, ABN AMRO Bank N.V., BNP Paribas, Danish Ship Finance and Skandinaviska Enskilda Banken AB, in relation to a US$310m loan facility provided to Star Bulk Carriers Corp. (“Star Bulk”).
  • Acting for Credit Suisse AG in relation to a US$233m facility agreement to Costamare Inc. for the purpose of refinancing certain indebtedness secured on 18 ships.

Constant & Constant (the Maritime Division of TLT in Greece)

Constant & Constant (the Maritime Division of TLT in Greece) is highly regarded for its ‘long and in-depth knowledge of the Greek shipping finance market’ along with its ‘commercial approach to business’.  Practice head Jeremy Watson has accumulated ‘substantial experience’ in the field, acting on behalf of major banks and financial institutions on syndicated and bilateral new-building facilities, marina and port development financings, multi-currency loans and interest rate swaps, among other matters. He also represents a number of shipping companies in the negotiation of new building contracts with ship builders, leasing arrangements and the negotiation of long-term charters. Stelios Andreiotis 'is always helpful and possesses significant expertise in the area'.

Practice head(s):

Jeremy Watson;

Testimonials

‘Their work is always characterised by professionalism and reflects the latest updates on ship financing loan documentation. Their commentary on legal aspects of the loan documentation is always to the point, protecting financiers’ interests and also taking into consideration the client’s position. They always work towards a timely, smooth completion of the transaction.’

‘Jeremy Watson has substantial experience in ship financing and in a number of areas of law, including shipping litigation cases. Through his long term involvement with a broad range of work in the maritime sector and the expertise he has developed, he has managed to act on behalf of major shipping lenders and shipowners in the structuring and restructuring of loan transactions and vessel acquisitions’.

‘Stelios Andriotis is always helpful, with significant expertise in the area and eager to assist in any difficult case may arise.’

‘Long and in-depth knowledge of the Greek ship finance market and a commercial approach to business.’

‘Jeremy Watson – very experienced partner with a detailed, in-depth knowledge of his market. Ably supported by Stelios Andreiotis who is knowledgeable and experienced and Stavroula who is efficient with great attention to detail.’

‘Due to the nature of shipping, most of the tasks which have been assigned to them had to be carried out under intense time pressure, in order to meet critical deadlines. Their shipping finance team performed extremely well in terms of quality, time, flexibility and cost.’

‘Jeremy Watson is very experienced, knowledgeable and reliable, and has a very broad network of business contacts. Stelios Andriotis is hard working, accurate, reliable and always meets deadlines.’

‘Constant & Constant is a reputable firm which provides high-quality services to shipping companies and clear legal advice in a prompt fashion.’

 

Key clients

ABN AMRO Bank NV

National Bank of Greece SA

Credit Suisse AG

Punjab National Bank International Limited

Bank of India

Work highlights

  • Recovery action on behalf of Punjab National Bank International Limited relating to loan and overdraft facilities provided to two connected entities for the purpose of purchasing a Bahamian registered cruise liner and consolidating existing debt.
  • Pursuing recovery of US$27m relating to separate facilities provided by Bank of India to two Panamanian registered borrowers which were used to assist with the purchase of two ships.

Hill Dickinson LLP

Hailed for its ‘efficiency, effective communication and good commercial advice’, Hill Dickinson LLP provides a full service offering in the shipping finance sector. The practice represents international investors, ship owners and borrowers, large corporate and international banks in addition to private equity and financial institutions. Practice head Jasel Chauhan is noted for his ‘considerable experience in all ship-financing structures’; Cyprus and the Middle East are markets of particular focus for his team. Senior associate Anthony Paizes delivers 'multi-jurisdictional experience'.

Practice head(s):

Jasel Chauhan;

Testimonials

‘Lean / efficient team, effective communication, good commercial advice helpful in resolving deadlocks.’

‘Jasel Chauhan provides attention to detail, considerable experience in materially all ship financing structures, wide spectrum of understanding of the shipping business.’

‘Anthony Paizes has attention to detail, hard working, delivers in time, multi-jurisdictional experience.’

‘Immediate availability, personal relations, strong knowledge, flexible pricing.’

‘Jasel Chauhan: readiness to assist, takes your concepts to the next level, hard working.’

‘Anthony Paizes: hard working, readily available, immediate response / action.’

Stephenson Harwood

Stephenson Harwood provides ‘in-depth knowledge of the Greek shipping market and various financing structures which work well within it’. The practice undertakes a varied caseload, handling commercial and trade agreements, insolvency and restructuring, real estate and project work. Nigel Bowen-Morris is praised for his ‘deep knowledge’ and heads the Greek law desk alongside Chris Vartzis. The team represents a number of shipping companies and also acts for lenders from Germany, the Netherlands, Switzerland and Scandinavia on facilitating loans to shipping entities in Greece, Croatia, Bulgaria and Israel. Turkey is also a key jurisdiction with the firm hosting a dedicated desk for the country headed by Vartzis. Associate Fotis Teknakis  provides 'excellent multi-transaction management skills'.

Practice head(s):

Nigel Bowen-Morris; Chris Vartzis

Testimonials

‘Speed when needed, efficiency, availability at all times, immediate responses,  provision of feedback/advice and solutions, close follow-up until completion, excellent co-operation throughout the whole process.’

‘Professionalism, time efficiency, organizational skills, commercial skills.’

‘Hard working team, available on short notice, excellent response times, good quality documentation.’

‘Fotis Teknakis (Associate):  good understanding of the ship financing business, adequate experience, hard working, excellent multi-transaction management skills, very helpful.

‘In-depth knowledge of the Greek shipping market and the various financing structures which work well in that environment.’

‘Good team – supportive and willing to assist.’

Work highlights

  • Advising ABN Amro Bank N.V. – in its capacity as arranger and sole lender – on a buyer credit facility in relation to a multi million loan facility to Star Bulk Carriers Corp. in relation to the financing, delivery and installation of 42 scrubbers on 42 vessels, owned by the group.

HFW

The workload at HFW encompasses bills of landing, charterparties, ship sale agreements, fleet and group acquisitions, leasebacks and shipbuilding contracts.  The 'extremely knowledgeable'  Kalliopi Karaiskaki heads the practice which counts ship owners and borrowers, large corporates and a range of domestic and international banks. Clients note the department’s expertise ‘in a range of commercial transactions including international joint ventures and foreign direct investment’.

Practice head(s):

Kalliopi Karaiskaki

Testimonials

‘HFW Greece practices in the area of corporate law and advises clients on a range of commercial transactions with an emphasis on international joint ventures, foreign direct investment, and employment law. The teams cares about the needs of clients and able to provide efficient solution in every cases. Compared with other law firm, I deeply feel my interests were timely protected, with the team’s prompt reply to my queries every time. The firm really understands the business of its clents, and guarantees top-level international legal adivice.’

‘Kalliopi Karaiskaki is very smart, efficient and experienced, and always provides top-level analysis and strategic advice.’

‘They are always available, ensure that the team is updated on pending cases, give solid advice and follow up timely and efficiently, and follow up on the relationship with regulatory news.’

‘Exceptionally knowledgeable, open minded, very cooperative with third parties, exceptionally efficient.’

 

Ince

The team at Ince provides clients with a ‘personal, commercial and very competent approach’. It handles all types of debt and equity financing by banks, financial institutions, funds and private equity groups while also undertaking the drafting and negotiation of all forms of shipping contracts. Examples include charterpartiers, shipbuilding contracts and MOAs for the sale and purchase of second-hand ships. Practice head Robin Parry and Ronan Le Dû ‘prove their professionalism with well-structured deals and to the point advice’.

Practice head(s):

Robin Parry;

Testimonials

Personal, very commercial and competent approach. Very good sense of priorities.

Robin Parry: best in the industry. He is extremely knowledgeably and efficient, provides outstanding service to clients.

‘Their service is characterized by consistent, professional and accurate work, with good industry knowledge.’

‘Both Robin Parry and Ronan Le Du have a substantial experience in ship financing and have proven their professionalism with well-structured deals and to the point advices. They both have excellent communication skills and are always hands-on the negotiation process of the loan documentation.’

 

 

Key clients

ABN AMRO Bank NV

Oaktree Maritime Finance

Piraeus Bank AE

Eurobank Ergasias SA

DnB Bank ASA

KfW

Deutche Bank

NordLB

Navios Maritime

Credit Suisse AG

Work highlights

  • Acting for Credit Agricole Corporate and Investment Bank in relation to a loan facility to four companies affiliated to Navios Maritime Partners L.P.
  • Acted for a joint venture established by Oceangold Tankers, Gunvor and Maas Capital for the purpose of acquiring and operating a number of product tankers.
  • Acted for a US-based fund on providing lease financing for 2 vessels.

Sarantitis

Sarantitis possesses ‘vast experience, flexibility and professionalism’. The team represents international and local shipping companies in addition to banks, recently acting for Chronos Shipping on the purchase of a 2014 Kapsarmax vessel from a Japanese group while also advising Piraeus Bank on the financing for the acquisition of a bulk carrier provided to Apollonia Lines, an Athens-based shipping group. Practice head Eleni Papakosta is noted for her ‘vast experience in handling shipping finance deals’.

Practice head(s):

Eleni Papakosta;

Testimonials

‘We have worked with Sarantitis Law Firm for many years and we are very happy with their service and their handling of our shipping and shipping-related matters.’

‘The team has vast experience, a good team work ethic, flexibility and professionalism. They perform efficiently and very quickly on our instructions. We also receive excellent comments and very positive feedback from our clients regarding Sarantitis’ shipping team.’

‘Eleni Papakosta is a well-educated professional with vast experience in shipping finance deals from both sides (banks & clients). This experience gives her flexibility and a lot of commercial sense, allowing her to cover our needs even on difficult situations during drafting negotiations.’

Key clients

Chronos Shipping Co. Ltd.

Zim Hellas S.A.

Cuma Shipmanagement Ltd.

SSKYS Seven Seas Greece Ship Supplies SMPC

Piraeus Bank S.A.

Niovis Shipping Co. S.A.

Neptune Lines Shipping Company S.A.

Oil Marketing &Trading International

Work highlights

  • Advising Niovis Shipping Co. Group in connection with the sale of a second-hand bulk carrier flying the Greek flag to a major group established in London and arranging for its deletion from the Greek flag.
  • Successfully acting for Niovis Shipping Co. Group on the sale of a second hand bulk carrier flying the Greek flag to a Greek shipping group and arranging for its deletion from the Greek flag.
  • Supporting legally Niovis Shipping Co. Group with its launching into the tankers sector, through the acquisition of  an aframax crude oil tanker built by Hyundai Samho Heavy Industries Co., Ltd. and a 50,000 dwt class product/ chemical tanker built by Hyundai Mipo Dockard Co., Ld.

Timagenis Law Firm

Timagenis Law Firm is ‘made excellent’ via its extensive ‘knowledge of shipping law in combination with its inexhaustible experience in the real world of the shipping industry’. The practice directs equal attention to representing borrowers and banks, acting on matters such as ship transactions, long-term timechaters, new loans, restructuring, supplemental agreements and the delivery of new vessels. The vastly-experienced Lily Timagenis oversees the department which Yiannis Timagenis, an expert in sales and leasebacks, shipbuilding and management agreements.

Practice head(s):

Lily Timagenis;

Testimonials

‘What makes unique Timagenis Law Firm is the excellent knowledge of the shipping law in combination with their inexhaustible experience in the real world of the shipping industry. The accuracy of providing the legal information required in the speed set by the in-house lawyer makes us choose them again and again because they are people we can count on.’

‘I would answer with one word: reliability. The experience that Mr Yiannis Timagenis and Mr Christos Timagenis among the rest exceptional Partners of Timagenis Law Firm (including of course without a doubt Gregory and Lily Timagenis) makes an in-house lawyer to rest assured that their opinion is provided without question marks; this is very helpful, especially when the legal department of a company urgently needs a legal opinion.’

‘Very well-knowledgeable team, spot on, commercial approach and result-driven. The reputation of the practice as a whole and of also of all separate individuals (I’ve worked with the majority of the team members) is utmost, providing extra comfort to all their clients.’  

‘Exceptional Knowledge and experience both in shipping and finance Value for money Team work Ethics in their work Experienced and competent team of lawyers.’  

‘Immediate and efficient reply. Commercial minded.’

Key clients

Eurobank Ergasias S.A.

CIT Finance LLC

Bank of America N.A.

Credit Suisse AG

Queensway Navigation Co Ltd

Metrostar Management Corp

Diana Group (Diana Shipping Inc/Diana Containerships Inc)

Dorian Group (Dorian LPG Ltd/Dorian LPG Management Corp/Dorian Hellas SA)

Capital Ship Management Corp

Work highlights

  • Acted for a US listed dry bulk company in connection with a $19m term loan facility secured by two vessels.
  • Negotiations for the respective borrowers of a Greek Shipping group in relation to the restructuring of different loans and different lenders and the relevant supplemental agreements.
  • Advising borrower in relation to structuring and recovery proceedings regarding a $75.463m loan agreement with a Greek bank.