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10 minutes with Andy Blundell on the marine industry

Andy Blundell

In this Q&A, Director of Close Brothers Aviation and Marine, Andy Blundell, details what makes the company different from other lenders in this niche part of the marine industry.

Tell us more about Close Brothers Aviation and Marine

Close Brothers Aviation and Marine has been in existence for over four decades after first opening our doors in 1976 as Air and General Finance Limited. 

It’s fair to say that we are the only funder that has demonstrated this level of longevity and commitment to businesses and individuals in this sector.

We are proud to be active members of the British Marine Federation and typically employ people who have worked directly in the marine sector or have a specialist marine finance background, which helps us better understand the needs and requirements of our customers.   

Who would you typically work with?  

It’s fair to say that we don’t have a ‘typical’ customer because we work with all types of people, from single, independent fishermen who may need a scallop vessel to multi-national, multi-vessel operators.

What type of marine vessel do you finance? 

We can finance a wide range of marine vessels, including wind farm support vessels, powered barges, tug boats, fishing vessels, work boats and a range of other commercial vessels, typically valued up to £20 million. 

How are the finance packages structured?   

Deciding how to finance a vessel is a key component in the ownership process. Any good finance house will work with their clients to understand the key drivers of each transaction, taking into account the proposed usage, flag and sailing areas of the vessel, and ownership structure together with the cash flow requirements of the borrower, to offer a tailored and bespoke solution for each transaction. This is not just marketing speak – because of the nature of the marine industry, you cannot apply a ‘one size fits all’ approach to transactions – each deal is unique in its own right. 

The sheer variety of vessels available is another factor to consider and a reason why it’s important each opportunity is assessed individually - we have helped customers purchase thousands of vessels.

We are able to finance vessels in a range of geographical areas and finance facilities are structured by way of a loan secured by with a mortgage registered with the relevant national Maritime register. 

Security – using a mortgage over the vessel - will be required, together with the appropriate guarantees, and facility fees normally apply.

When lending to companies and limited liability partnerships (LLPs) we register a mortgage with Companies House. 

What makes you different from other lenders?

We focus on building strong and lasting relationships with our customers, and have become known as a lender that continues to provide funding through all the economic cycles, including the refinancing of vessels to assist with cashflow. 

Close Brothers Aviation and Marine was the only company in our sector that continued to lend during the recessions, including the early 90s and 2010, when solid businesses’ cash flow dried up. Our understanding of our industry and the sector we work in allows us to be confident in business owners and the value of the assets they utilise. 

Our team’s level of industry knowledge is unmatched and is key in helping our customers understand the value of their investment.