KKR Forms Maritime Finance Company
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RBI allows non-bank Islamic finance firm
Led by former Helios Advisors partners Kristan Bodden and Gabriel Tolchinsky, Maritime Finance is an asset-based lender focused on maritime assets in the offshore oil field services and traditional shipping sectors. The Company will originate, structure, underwrite, invest in and distribute debt financings secured by high-quality maritime assets, including drilling rigs, development and production assets, subsea construction vessels and other traditional shipping assets. Maritime Finance will initially be capitalized with $580 million of equity, over 45% of which has been provided by KKR, including through its balance sheet, KKR Financial Holdings LLC /quotes/zigman/464576/quotes/nls/kfn KFN +3.57% and MerchCap Solutions (“MCS”), KKR’s recently established mid-market focused merchant banking venture with CPPIB and Stone Point Capital. The balance of the capital was arranged by MCS and included participation from various family offices, mutual funds, hedge funds and specialist financial services investors. Proceeds will be used by the Company to fund its establishment and operation, provide capital for newly originated maritime financings and potentially acquire a seed portfolio of outstanding loans.
But its decision appears to open the door to the possibility of more NBFCs offering Islamic non-interest products in future, even though full-fledged Islamic banks are expected to remain banned. RBI governor Duvvuri Subbarao, who will step down in September, has said Islamic banking is not possible in the country but sharia-compliant products could be delivered through alternative means. LEGAL CHALLENGE Last year, the RBI directed Kochi-based Alternative Investments and Credits Ltd (AICL) to stop its non-interest NBFC business almost a decade after the firm was launched. This prompted an ongoing legal challenge by AICL.