October 11 - Bloomberg is reporting that a trio of shipping, offshore and finance professionals based in Norway are planning to set up a new bank to focus on the funding requirements of owners and operators active in the global shipping and offshore indus

The business news agency is reporting that the bank will be named Maritime & Merchant Bank (M&M) and that a banking licence application will be made to regulatory authorities in the autumn.

The main shareholders of the bank's holding company M&M AS are currently Arne Blystad, Henning Oldendorff, Nergaard Investment Partners, controlled by Alex and Birger Nergaard and Landmark Holdings in Shanghai.

Once in operation, the bank will focus on the maritime and offshore industries and provide a broad range of services including secured lending, syndication, hedging products and payment services which have generally dried up in the current squeezed credit market.

Pending the successful resolution of the filing process, the bank is expected to begin operations in the second quarter of next year.

Halvor Sveenm, managing director of the bank's holding company M&M AS, is quoted as saying: "Over the past four years, the introduction of stricter capital requirements has forced many banks to either discontinue lending to owners or scale back on activities in ship finance. This tight credit market has left many small to medium-sized owners seeking financing with no place to go - until now."