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China Merchants closes $500m financing deal for two Viking newbuilds

Yi Lou, vp of CMBFL together with Torstein Hagen, founder and chairman of Viking Ocean Cruises at Viking Sun's launch last December
Shanghai's CMB Financial Leasing (CBMFL), a subsidiary of China Merchants Group, has closed a deal reportedly worth close to $500m for the financing of Viking Ocean Cruises' four and fifth 930-passenger newbuilds.

Viking Sun and Viking Spirit, both being built by Fincantieri, are due for delivery in September 2017 and June 2018, respectively.

The transaction lifts Viking’s ocean fleet to five 47,800gt ships.

The first ship Viking Star was delivered at Fincantieri's Marghera yard in spring 2015. The second and the third ships, Viking Sea and Viking Sky, were both built in Ancona and delivered in early 2016 and early 2017.

A sixth, yet-to-be-named ship will be delivered in 2019.

In April this year Viking and Fincantieri signed a memorandum of agreement for the construction of two additional 47,800gt cruise ships, with an option for another two.

Viking currently operates a fleet of 67 river vessels and three ocean vessels.

Viking Sun was launched in Ancona last December in front of godmother of the ceremony Yi Lou, vp of CMBFL and Torstein Hagen, founder and chairman of Viking Ocean Cruises.

Viking accounted for more than half of the North American sourced river cruise passengers at the end of 2016, noted CMBFL.

CMBFL is one of the first five bank-affiliated financial leasing firms approved by China's State Council, owning a fleet of 130 vessels, mainly containerships, LNG carriers and tankers.

China Merchants has widespread shipping interests covering operations, shipbuilding and ports.

In an expanding asset portfolio, it is targetting new investment opportunities with cruise being one sector, it reports.

Its cruise arm is based in Shenzhen.

The name came under the cruise spotlight in 2015 when Carnival inked a memorandum of understanding with China Merchants Group to explore the possibility of a domestic cruise line for China and turnaround and transit port development.

Earlier this year, China Merchants teamed with Miami-based SunStone Ships to sign a framework agreement to build four 104mtr long expedition ships with options for six more.

The vessels will be constructed by China Merchants Heavy Industry (Jiangsu) Co., Ltd. near Shanghai, with the design, equipment and management supplied by Norway's Ulstein Design & Solutions.

Genting Hong Kong entered into a strategic cooperation framework agreement with China Merchants Shekou Holdings to jointly develop Tai Zi Bay, Shekou, Shenzhen into an international cruise homeport.


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