Mark Westley takes helm of SG's shipping finance team

Societe Generale transfers Mark Westley from London to head its Asia-Pacific shipping and asset finance business.

Societe Generale (SG) has appointed Mark Westley as its Asia-Pacific regional head of shipping and asset finance as a replacement for Mark Howard, who returned to Europe with the bank.

Westley, who previously headed the bank's London-based liquefied natural gas (LNG) shipping team, will be based in Hong Kong and will drive the further development of SG's LNG and offshore advisory and arranging business in the region.

Howard, former Asia-Pacific regional shipping and asset finance head, returned to Paris earlier this year as the bank's deputy global head of export finance.

The slowdown in global trade has hurt the shipping industry, said a spokesperson, but the bank is focusing on the pockets of the market where business is picking up. "The traditional shipping industry, which includes tanker, bulk and container ships, still has a few years left for the pain [but] strong opportunities have emerged from a new shipping sector -- LNG and offshore development," they said.

"Thanks to the strong demand for energy and natural resources, particularly from Asia, there are numerous project developments around the region including LNG fields, storage, terminals, drills and ship building," they continued. Current focuses for the bank include energy-related shipping projects in Papua New Guinea and Australia.

According to the spokesperson, an LNG facility can cost as much as $1.5 billion.

The Baltic Dry Index, the globally accepted barometer of shipping demand, was at 2,612 points on Wednesday, down from a seasonal peak of 4,291 points in June. The index has fallen 77% from its all-time high of 11,793 in May 2008.

Globally, Westley reports to Paris-based Yves Lallemand, deputy head of infrastructure and asset finance, and Paul Taylor, global head of shipping. Regionally, he reports to Ashley Wilkins, Asia-Pacific head of global finance. In addition, he works closely with the heads of other advisory teams in the bank's global finance business, including energy and natural resources, export finance and trade finance.

Having joined SG in 2005, Westley became head of SG's LNG shipping team in 2007. He previously worked at ANZ Investment Bank on their leasing and structured asset finance and power and infrastructure project finance teams.

Gareth Williams has replaced Westley as head of LNG shipping and offshore advisory in London.

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