Cooler bond market a hot topic at conference

The financing prospects in light of the oil price decline were a hot topic when the shipping and offshore industry gathered close to 300 participants at Marine Money's Norway Ship & Offshore Finance Forum yesterday. Wiersholm, which sponsored the event, was of course well represented.

This year's conference, which was the 17th ever held, has become an important meeting place for the Norwegian and international shipping, offshore and finance industry. –One important reason for that is that the conference functions as an open arena for discussion for operators in several different industries, says Mike McCleery, who is responsible for the event. –This is an arena in which lawyers, owners and the financing community gather for conversation and debate on neutral grounds. Thus, the conference plays an important part in establishing mutual understanding between operators in finance, shipping and offshore, he explains.

One essential topic at the conference was the oil price's effect on the access to financing going forward. This was also the topic for the panel debate about the bond market, which was headed by Wiersholm's Kristine Hasle Øverby. As much as 60% of the Norwegian bond market is targeted against the shipping and offshore industry. Therefore, the oil price decline last autumn and the subsequent tightening in terms of bond financing had major consequences for this very industry.

Even through the market is now looking somewhat brighter, several of the debaters emphasised that the market is very selective in terms of which companies they are willing to invest in. The willingness to undertake risk is much reduced compared to the time when the market was at its hottest before the oil price decline. Therefore, the debate panel advised the shipping and offshore industry to take into account the fact that there will be much uncertainty in the market in the near future too.