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Shipping Firms Look to Equities to Fill Funding Gap

Shipping companies are turning to equity markets to fill a growing funding gap, betting that investors hungry for decent returns will provide capital to a sector recovering from its worst downturn since the 1980s.Ship owners ordered large numbers of vessels between 2007 and 2009, just as the global economy sank into crisis. Prospects have brightened in recent months as world trade picks up and the ship glut is absorbed.The industry still faces a multi-billion dollar financing hole after banks, its traditional source of funding, cut back lending to boost capital in the wake of the financial crisis.Alternative investors such as private equity firms have been snapping up shipping assets including loan portfolios from the banks. Scenting an opportunity, shipping companies are now trying to take advantage of strong equity markets to seek out funds through initial public offerings (IPOs).Avance Gas listed this week in Oslo. Germany's Hapag-Lloyd and Chilean peer Vapores agreed this week to a...

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