The fifth annual The Maritime Standard Ship Finance and Trade Conference took place the Sofitel Abu Dhabi Corniche, on 6th November 2019. The event highlighted the importance of the shipping, ports and other maritime sectors working more closely with the financial services sector, as well as the growing influence of green issues and digitalisation.
The tone was set by the keynote speaker, H.E. Ahmed Shareef Alkhoori, Director General, Federal Transport - Land & Maritime. He said: “Financial institutions have a key role to play in helping to unlock the barriers that can exist to the development of maritime businesses. It is important that good lines of communication between the financial and maritime sectors are cultivated, to allow both to take full advantages of the growth opportunities that exist.”
The chief executive of Abu Dhabi-based ADNOC Logistics & Services, Capt. Abdulkareem Al Masabi, gave the second keynote. Offering a strategic market insight from a ship owner perspective, he said, “We need long term financial partners to help achieve efficiencies in the global supply chain. Investment is central in this context and increased cooperation is needed.”
On behalf of Abu Dhabi Ports, Martin Arup, Chief Finance Officer, also made a keynote speech. He commented, “It is vital that shipping embraces technological solutions to drive the industry forward. In particular investment has to target the requirement for smart ports.”
For the first session, which had the theme Accentuating the positive - how to take advantage from regional and global trade trends, TMS had assembled a high quality panel of business leaders. These included Ali Shehab, Acting CEO, Kuwait Oil Tanker Company; Chris Peters, CEO, Emirates Ship Investment Company; Zhang Wei, Assistant General Manager, Industrial and Commercial Bank of China
Limited (ICIC); Capt. S.R. Patnaik, CEO, International Shipping & Logistics; and Bobby Varghese, Vice President - Financial Strategy, Abu Dhabi Ports
After lunch the topic moved to address how different approaches to finance can help maritime companies achieve sustainable growth. Speakers included Andrew Simmons, CEO, Global Marine Transport; Vijay Kamath, Regional Head, North Star Asia Maritime (NSAM); Nitin Mehta, CEO, Tomini Group; and George Giannakis, Managing Director, StormHarbour. They were joined by Christopher Thomas, Chief Finance Officer, ADNOC Logistics & Services, for an entertaining panel discussion afterwards.
Breaking down the barriers to greater shipping and finance industry collaboration was the subject of the third and final session. Delivering a varied series of presentations K. B. Chandramouli, Director, Shipping, Aviation and ECA Financing, Faber Capital; Richard Briggs, Member of EMAC Board of Trustees and Executive Partner at Hadef & Partners; Nabil Azzouz, Vice President-Marine & Energy (International), Abu Dhabi National Insurance Company; Tien Tai, Partner, HFW; and Nijoe Joseph, Partner, Stephenson Harwood, all kept the audience fully engaged, and listening intently right to the end.
Conference chairman, Clive Woodbridge, editor of The Maritime Standard, said, “It was a really dynamic conference with some extremely interesting presentations, that generally reflected a more upbeat and optimistic assessment of market trends. However, speakers also highlighted some of the key challenges that lie ahead, with the introduction of IMO 2020, the banking Poseidon principles, digital transformation and the emergence of a new generation of lenders, among others.”
The conference attracted an audience of around 170 top executives from shipping, ports, finance, law and other maritime sectors. Attendees joined the event not just from across the region, but from Europe and Asia as well.