Soo Cheon Lee ranked 6 on Lloyd’s List Ship Finance Top 10 – 2016

20 December 2016 Hong Kong – On the back of awarding winning deals such as Korea Line and Pan Ocean, Co-Founder & CIO Soo Cheon Lee has been awarded the Number 6 ranking on the Lloyd’s List Ship Finance Top 10, joining this very distinguished list of global shipping financiers.


01. Kristin Holth, global head of shipping, offshore & logistics, DNB

DNB gets top billing for having a super-active year in both commercial lending and investment banking. It has been shrinking its shipping book, just like everybody else, with the portfolio standing at $25bn at the end of 2015, compared with an external estimate of $28.3bn at the end of 2014. Even so, that is a lot of money, and it remains the world’s largest lender to the industry. Ms Holth joined one of DNB’s predecessors as soon as she left business school, and has stayed there ever since. She took over as head of shipping in 2013.

02. Liu Liange, vice-chairman and president, China Exim Bank

MR Liu recently told a conference in Beijing that China Exim Bank had extended shipping loans worth Yuan170bn ($25bn) since 2013 alone. If DNB has continued its recent direction of travel, Cexim may already enjoy shipping exposure higher than its Norwegian rivals. Mr Liu has previously worked for the People’s Bank of China, acting as its London representative between 1999-2000, and the Asian Development Bank.

03. John Haefelfinger, head of corporate and specialty lending, Credit Suisse

CREDIT Suisse has, until now, been seen as an ‘also ran’ in ship finance. It was always there, but never in a big way. But it has quietly been growing its book and this year it overtook RBS as the largest lender to the Greek market. It even got as far as tabling a bid for RBS’s $6bn Greek shipping book, although it pulled out at the due diligence stage, presumably because it did not like what it saw. Much of the build-up has been the work of Mr Haefelfinger, but he is working out his notice, after being chosen as managing director of Basellandshaftliche Kantonalbank from next year.

04. Wiley Griffiths, vice-president, Morgan Stanley

MORGAN Stanley maintained its commanding position among top-tier Wall Street firms for shipping investment banking in 2016. Led by Wiley Griffiths, Morgan Stanley played lead underwriting roles in the equity offerings of Ardmore, Seaspan, Nordic American Tankers, and Costamare.

05. Michael Parker, chairman of EMEA corporate banking, Citi

IF anyone can be described as a British establishment figure in a positive sense, that would be Michael Parker. While working for a US bank in London for nearly 40 years, the Oxford graduate in politics, philosophy and economics has often spoken out for the UK shipping community, whose mood remains decidedly downbeat after Britain voted to exit the EU. Mr Parker was promoted to Citi’s corporate banking chairman of EMEA in April 2016 while retaining his position of global shipping head.

06. Soo Cheon Lee, chief investment officer, SC Lowy

MR Lee is another standard-bearer for the advance of Asian ship finance. The firm has its fingers in numerous pies, but is strong in shipping, and has played a part in several Korean restructurings. Prior to founding the outfit with Michel Lowy in 2009 — Mr Lee is the ‘SC’ component of the name — he was a managing director at Deutsche Bank and, before that, a research analyst at Cargill.

07. Oliver Faak, global head of ship and aircraft finance, NordLB

LIFE has given German ship finance lemons, and Norddeutsche Landesbank’s Mr Faak has come as close as anybody to making lemonade. In August, Mr Faak signed off on a $1.5bn securitisation deal with KKR and an unnamed sovereign wealth fund, which at a stroke lifted both performing and non-performing loans on around 100 vessels off NordLB’s balance sheet. Also this year, NordLB joined forces with Offen Group and Caplantic to launch Crystal Ocean Advisors, a consultancy specialising in shipping restructuring and workout deals.

08. Stephen Fewster, global head, transportation finance at ING Bank, ING

ING has featured prominently in the shipping press this year. The Dutch investment bank acts as assignee for the debts of OW Bunker, and has been relentless in making good its claims. Poor Mr Fewster has sometimes been in the situation of watching another department of his own bank arrest vessels on which his department has lent money. He has also hit the headlines for his controversial decision to pull the plug on Flinter, perhaps the most substantial north European company to go under as a result of the downturn.

09. Christa Volpicelli, managing director, Global Transportation Group, Citibank

CITIBANK was very busy in investment banking in 2016, with a very strong finish as the sole or joint book runner for Golar, Costamare, and Hoegh LNG Partners. Ms Volpicelli leads the firm’s US-based shipping investment banking practice. She joins Kristin Holth as the two female power-bankers in our list.

10. Chris Weyers, head of maritime investment banking, Stifel

MR Weyers has “done a fabulous job positioning Stifel as a top-tier shipping investment bank”, we are told. Stifel was particularly active this year, and a had a streak of being in almost every secondary offering, including Scorpio Bulkers, Ardmore and Seaspan, even at times when it was hard to raise money.

11. The European shipping banker

NEWS about European shipping banks has been grim this year. They are losing ground to Asia; have had to be bailed out by the taxpayer; and are exiting the sector in increasing numbers. But the reality remains that those middle-aged white men in grey suits in London, Hamburg and Oslo still do the heavylifting in ship finance. Wall Streeters dabble here and there, until they get their fingers burned, but for bread-and-butter lending, the Europeans remain the go-to financiers. The question is, for how much longer? The decline in European ship finance is starting to look structural and, short of a miracle, it is difficult to see what can possibly reverse this trend

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