Financing the Future of Shipping in the Rotterdam Maritime Capital of Europe
Nesec Shipping Dept Fund
Within the Rotterdam Maritime Services Community, financial institutes are highly valued and actively present both in providing financial services, as well as in enthusiastically advocating the maritime industry vis a vis (local) government.
There can be no innovation without a solid financial base. Nesec Shipping Dept Fund is active as lender to shipowners since 1946 and gives financial perspective to shipowners by developing debt funds for long term financing of maritime assets, with the Nesec Shipping Debt Fund set up early 2020.
We ask Pieter van der Burg and Nienke Blans what’s going on in their sector and how they see the benefits of the maritime cluster in Rotterdam.
Nesec started in 1946 with the purpose of helping shipowners to finance their ships via loans and mortgages. The initial focus was on international shipowners buying Dutch build ships. Gradually this shifted towards an emphasis on short sea shipping and the Dutch maritime cluster.
The Netherlands is big on small tonnage – explaining the importance of the Dutch shipowners – many companies here focus on shortsea shipping, which Pieter calls ‘the backbone of the European trade infrastructure’.
“Shortsea shipping is the backbone of European trade infrastructure”
Banks have been re-assessing their interest in financing the shipping industry and Nesec sees an opportunity to step in a part of this gap. Shipowners need access to long term finance, and institutional investors want a relatively safe return on investment. Loans tend to be repaid and are secured with a mortgage, they are therefore, for institutional investors, considered less risky business compared to investing in (shares of) specific companies. After the latest financial crisis, the Nesec Shipping Debt Fund was launched in 2020 and the portfolio is gradually growing.
Last year, Nienke Blans started at Nesec as Financial Director at Nesec. Can you tell us a bit about yourself and why you choose a career in the maritime industry?
I studied at Delft with a maritime engineering background, and like many others at that time, went into banking. Happily I stuck to maritime finance and after years in Singapore and Amsterdam for ABN AMRO, now in Rotterdam with Nesec to facilitate access to capital for shipowners. First of all, I am the risk manager and the financial manager. Additionally, together with Pieter I develop new strategies within the group. As mentioned, we aim to grow our fund business, NSDF is a start. New strategies could include expanding our efforts in first mortgages loans and portfolios of subordinated finance but we may also focus on broader maritime related assets.
With NSDF we would like to have a mix of assets in our portfolio, we currently executed a financing for existing tonnage. To support the (Dutch/Eu) shipbuilding industry, we are keen to finance newbuilding projects as well. We notice that for innovative newbuilding ideas, there are alternative financing methods, amongst which, subsidy schemes. We therefore cooperate with (local) government to structure finance packages for innovative newbuildings.
With the majority of the Dutch shipowners being located in Groningen, why is Nesec in Rotterdam?
Pieter smiles and explains there is an office in Groningen since a very large part of the Dutch shipowners is based in the North of the Netherlands. However virtually all shipowners have to be in Rotterdam to visit their ships, meet insurers, brokers, experts, crew and cargo interests. Adding to this, the vicinity of Den Haag and presence of other maritime service providers make Rotterdam ideally located for Nesec.
It is a small world, where people know each other and as positive as this is, at the same time, it is also difficult, as you can be each other’s competition, while the sector needs a strong cluster to compete with the other maritime nations.
There RMSC steps in, Pieter adds – where you can meet people of the different sectors in an informal way, discussing opportunities and strengthen the ties. Right from the start of RMSC Nesec is a member and Pieter has seen it grow, both in members and in activities. A strong connection to the local government and promotion towards young professionals is of importance. Connecting people will stay important, and RMSC plays their role well.
Header photo: Guido Pijper