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Topaz secures USD42m financing

December 21 - Topaz Energy and Marine has raised USD42 million from Standard Chartered Bank, Dubai in support of its fleet expansion plans, taking its total financing raised in 2009 to USD150 million, the lion's share of which has been deployed to support

The profile of the banks provide finance to Topaz is diverse and covers leading, regional commercial and Islamic banks, specialised international shipping banks and global institutions.

A leader in the offshore support vessel market, Topaz operates more than 100 modern and high-spec vessels with diverse capabilities such as anchor handling tug supply vessels, platform supply vessels, flotels, ice breakers, crew boats, cable layers, survey vessels and specialised barges.

Topaz employs a prudent vessel acquisition strategy that restricts any speculative buying other than in technological or geographical niches. This model has proven very successful and paired with the relatively low counterparty risk related to Topaz's blue-chip client base, banks have responded positively.

Topaz CFO, Pramod Balakrishnan commented on Topaz's success in securing financing, "Topaz has a strong balance sheet and comfortably meets its bank covenants which makes financing us a compelling case for the banks. Our overall fleet exposure is weighted towards medium and long-term contracts which helps counterbalance any spot market volatility, providing another level of comfort for the banks. The long visibility and consistent cash flows generated enable our bankers to sleep soundly."

Setting the stage for 2010, Topaz has stated its strategic intent to aggressively pursue growth through acquisitions into geographies of strategic importance to the global hydrocarbon markets. Depressed asset valuations and motivated sellers are likely to provide attractive opportunities for Topaz. The OSV-market globally is characterised by smaller operators and in the wake of the global financial crisis, a certain degree of consolidation is expected.

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