New quango seen boosting shipping registry
An oil rig supply firm’s redomiciling to Bermuda last month coincided with ongoing initiatives to strengthen the island’s attractiveness to shipping companies and boat owners.
Nordic American Offshore, which operates a fleet of supply vessels in the North Sea, completed its move from the Marshall Islands to Bermuda on September 27. The redomiciling placed the company, which has a market capitalisation of $77 million, into the same jurisdiction as its largest shareholder, Nordic American Tankers.
Bermuda is the corporate home to a number of major shipping companies, among them Frontline Ltd, the world’s largest oil tanker shipping firm.
Kevin Richards, a business development manager with the Bermuda Business Development Agency, said the redomiciling of NAO, and of Ardmore Shipping Corporation in 2014, “show that we can compete with the fastest growing regions in the world”.
Mr Richards’s specialised areas within the BDA include shipping and aviation. He has attended a number of shipping and marine finance events this year to network and attract business to the island.
He believes Bermuda’s position has been greatly strengthened by giving a level of independence to its ship registry and maritime authority.
That happened on October 1 when the Department of Maritime Administration’s status changed and it was renamed the Bermuda Shipping and Maritime Authority. It now operates as a quango, that is a quasi-autonomous non-governmental organisation.
Mr Richards said it was important for Bermuda to be on an equal footing with leading jurisdictions around the world from a ship registry point of view.
“The new authority is the gold standard for shipping registry. We have vetted what the other jurisdictions are doing,” he said.
Bermuda’s ship registry is a Category 1 member of the British Red Ensign Group, supporting a worldwide portfolio of vessels, including large cruise ships, oil, gas and chemical tankers, container ships, bulk carriers, offshore vessels, cruising and megayachts.
Mr Richards said Bermuda has much to offer ship owners and operators, including its status as a leading financial centre, its regulatory framework, Know Your Customer process and country-by-country reporting standards.
“The most sophisticated shipping companies recognise that. The people in Bermuda are top players; they know why Bermuda is the best place to be.”
He said that the on-island access to other sectors, such as insurance and client trust, enhanced Bermuda’s appeal as a jurisdiction for ship owners and operators.
Mr Richards added: “The BDA’s ability to talk about other agencies, other industries, and about our entire economy, makes us stand out from our competitors.”
He attended last month’s Superyacht Finance Forum in Monaco, presented by Marine Money. The Bermuda contingent at the forum included Lynesha Lightbourne, BDA business development coordinator, and Mark Soares, owner of Bermuda Yacht Services.
Mr Soares took the opportunity to speak about new marinas on the island and Bermuda’s appeal to yacht owners and operators.
The island’s hosting of the America’s Cup proved to be a talking point.
“The America’s Cup resonated with a lot of the audience. People were asking about Bermuda. We have a lot of leads to chase up,” said Mr Richards.
Last week he was in New York City following up with “key decision makers” he met at the Marine Money Week event, also in New York, during June.
Mr Richards said such events were an opportunity to learn about new trends in tax and registration, as they relate to shipping and boat ownership, and to connect with influencers and advisers to shipping and yacht companies and owners.
“It gets us face time to network with key players in the industry and it keeps us top of mind, so that when a new ship is built and it comes time to decide where to have it registered, they will remember Bermuda.”
Mr Richards was also represent the BDA at an air finance round table in New York.
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