Raymond Ko

Dutch Senate - Marstrat

Marstrat is pleased with decision Dutch Senate to allow commercial armed guards on board Dutch vessels

Raymond Ko |

Marstrat is pleased with the decision of the Dutch Senate on 19 March 2019 to allow commercial armed guards on board Dutch flagged vessels. After a long period of cooperation between various Dutch maritime organisations, Dutch vessel owners will be able to provide full support and protection against piracy for their seafarers, like other European owners. The new law is expected to be in place by the end of this year.

Flying the Dutch flag is one of the most reliable and competitive ship registrations available today. Ranking third place on the Paris MoU white list, the Dutch flag enjoys the benefits of the Netherlands’ maritime infrastructure based on sustainability, innovation and responsible sailing.

The position of the Royal Association of Netherlands Shipowners on this topic can be found on their website (Dutch article)

Alternative Ship Finance Raymond Ko - Marstrat - Maritime Strategy Implemented

(Alternative) Ship Finance

Raymond Ko |

Traditional ship finance for more than a century is based on financiers, the banks, taking a first priority mortgage on the ship. This proved a good way of lending to the sector, providing security in case the shipowner cannot pay back. The characteristics of the ship (valuation and ability to generate income) determine the amount of finance should be made available, how this is repaid and at what price (interest margin). International ship finance banks have mainly funded the global ocean going fleet. The Dutch banks are still amongst the leading players. Also regional shipowners involved in coastal and inland transportation have been solely depended on local bank funding in case of limiting own sources.

From the start of the financial crisis in 2008 and due to continuing overcapacity in many of the shipping markets the financing capacity from traditional banks in Europe and US have reduced. The private and smaller shipowners find it especially difficult to obtain bank financing. Marstrat has assisted owners in the financing, refinancing and restructuring of various vessels and have involved alternatives to bank funding to in order to survive or to ‘make the deal work’.

An example is funding from institutional investors such as pension funds or insurance companies, making capital available for the longer term (matching with the life of the ship). Regulatory requirements like Solvency II for insurance companies may work out more favorable than the shipping banks’ regulatory framework in the near future (Basel IV), therefore offering attractive cost of funding for the shipowner and attractive risk-return for the institutional investor.

Increasingly there are alternative fundings available from private high net-worth individuals as well as from direct lending platforms and Chinese funds, depending on the vessel and the sponsor’s business model. Financial institutions can act as intermediary or advisor in accessing new sources but are often available for the ‘big players’.

Marstrat acts fully independently with hands-on advice and strong network in the financial market. We have the complementary advantage of fully understanding you maritime business needs.


Marstrat – Gold Sponsor of the Maritime Awards Gala 2018

Raymond Ko |

Marstrat proudly announces to be Gold Sponsor of the Maritime Awards Gala 2018 (MAG). The Rotterdam based maritime consultancy firm has been a participant of the MAG over the years and is honored to support this year’s edition which will take place on Monday 12 November at the Taets Art and Event Park in Amsterdam.

Marstrat and MAG share the same vision when it comes to highlighting the significance of the Dutch maritime industry: ranging from creating world class innovative solutions and highly advanced shipbuilding to realizing sustainable maritime solutions with the strong support of maritime finance providers. Marstrat has been involved in various mandates promoting the Dutch maritime sector internationally and has been guiding companies and the public sector to develop business activities locally.

MAGEvery year almost 900 maritime professionals attend the annual networking event to celebrate the innovative power and achievements of the Dutch maritime industry. The event hosts five prestigious awards in the categories designer, innovation, ship-of-the-yearshipping and student innovation.

Marstrat is a strategic consultancy firm based in Rotterdam, the Netherlands that provides a unique combination of business, financial, and operational expertise to the maritime sector. Marstrat simplifies, organises and supports in order to solve your cross-disciplinary maritime challenges. Marstrat’s partners speak the language of the sector and understand the international markets. They have extensive experience, and an undisputed track record in the maritime sector.

Photo credit: Ruud Aantjes – Navingo


Is your maritime business ready for recovery?

Raymond Ko |

We hear positive noises in the markets from brokers, researchers, ship-owners and even bankers. The global economy and international trade is recovering from the downturn and our clients see improvements in turnover and margins. It looks as if the worst is behind us!

In the Netherlands most companies active in maritime supply or ship building are still trying to make ends meet whilst other sectors in the Dutch economy are recovering. The investment climate however is good: asset prices are modest, demand is growing and interest rates are still low. The Netherlands is still a very attractive place to establish a maritime business. Rotterdam as Maritime Capital of Europe is going strong and disruptive creativity with 3D printing, block chain, and big data will accelerate maritime business efficiency. Charles Groenhuijsen mentioned all this during the Marstrat Think & Drink.

On the back of positive signs in the maritime sector, Marstrat has been involved in many projects showing diversity of our capabilities. We have put together a platform to drive maritime regional promotion, which is in high demand in various parts of the country and abroad. In the field of financial solutions, we have advised a Dutch family business, a US investment fund as well as a public Norwegian offshore company on funding and shipping finance. We are keen to support you as well to make a deal in an environment where funding is a challenge.

Marstrat has travelled West and East and identified exiting developments in the promising energy market in Mexico. Also in Turkey and Thailand we have put our maritime expertise to work where maritime business activity is recuperating.

Marstrat shipbuilding - 2

A Dutch perspective of the Thai maritime sector: Sound opportunities in supplying specialised products in niche markets.

Raymond Ko |

Maritime consultancy Marstrat B.V. and Netherlands Maritime Technology in collaboration with research partner Kasetsart University, have recently delivered a market study to highlight opportunities for Dutch companies in the Thai maritime market.

The Netherlands has an active trading relationship with Thailand and in terms of the maritime sector there is a long history. Today a number of Dutch players are active in the field of equipment supply, vessel construction and maritime services. Given the favourable economic outlook in the region and major government incentives focused on infrastructure improvements, the requirement for modernising the shipbuilding sector is high, although maritime policies and governance could hamper this.

The report gives an overview of sectors such as ports, shipping, offshore, the navy, fisheries, yachting, cruises and ferries. Emphasis is on the shipbuilding and repair industry, whilst the report covers local policies, regulations and institutes influencing the sector.

There is momentum to develop the shipbuilding sector as part of large infrastructure investments in the Eastern Economic Corridor and Chao Praya River as well as other maritime hubs. In particular in respect of specialised vessels as well as ports, delta technology and logistics. Expected requirements are in (eco) design, supervision and supply of equipment as well as support in developing maritime policies and education.

The study was assigned by the Embassy of the Kingdom of the Netherlands in Bangkok. Interested parties can contact the Embassy by sending an e-mail to for further information.

Charles Groenhuijsen - Marstrat - Think and drink

Groenhuijsen: ‘I say we underestimate Trump’

Raymond Ko |

During the annual Think & Drink event of Marstrat BV, Charles Groenhuijsen gave an outline on the consequences of Trump leadership on worldwide trade and the maritime sector. According to Groenhuijsen the world is getting crazier, faster, bigger and more modernised. “We should not underestimate Trump. He still has 40% of American voters behind him and his unpredictability does not mean he will be gone soon.” The world economy is moving forward at high-speed and new technologies in respect of for example block-chain and autonomous shipping will impact the way the industry has been functioning for decades. It is the golden age for entrepreneurship, with data as the new fuel for the economy and Trump is not hampering these developments at all.

Also Raymond Ko, Managing Partner of Marstrat presented a positive outlook. “The maritime sector is leaving the bottom of the market behind. The Baltic Dry Index has recovered steadily last years and new shipbuilding orders, also in the Netherlands, are being placed in a continuing low-interest rate environment and stronger economy.”

The Marstrat partners are ready to face the fast changing maritime environment, together with you as maritime entrepreneur or decision maker. The Think & Drink event took place at Sociëteit De Maas in Rotterdam and was attended by guests from the financial services industry, maritime government bodies, entrepreneurs and the commercial maritime sector.

Raymond Ko - Marstrat

Marstrat appoints Raymond Ko as Managing Partner

Raymond Ko |

As of January 1st Raymond Ko is appointed Managing Partner of Marstrat. Raymond succeeds Martin Bloem, who was responsible for setting-up the company and the successful first years of operation. Martin steps down because of engagements in various commercial projects, amongst others the interim management role at Deal! Drecht Cities. Martin will stay on as Marstrat partner.

Bloem was Marstrat’s CEO from the start of the company in 2015 and created the foundation of the market position and brand Marstrat has today. He feels confident that Raymond will continue this success and lead the company into the next phase. Bloem explains: ‘Raymond has 18 years of experience as an all-round maritime financial expert. He enjoys respect and has a vast network in the maritime industry. This makes him the right man for the job. Exactly what Marstrat needs to keep delivering value to our clients.’

Raymond Ko was appointed Marstrat partner in September 2016. Previously he worked as a ship finance expert for international banks in the UK and the Netherlands, supporting the development of maritime companies in the Netherlands and internationally. Ko: ‘It is my goal to continue the growth of Marstrat and to explore new opportunities to help clients deal with difficulties that come with today’s reality. Our added value lies in the complementary areas of expertise, skills and networks of the Marstrat partners. Because of this we can act as a one-stop shop and are able to deliver cross-disciplinary services and solution to our clients.’

Marstrat is a strategic consultancy firm that provides a unique combination of technological, business, financial and legal expertise to the maritime sector. The company simplifies, organises and supports in order to solve cross-disciplinary maritime challenges. Marstrat’s partners speak the language of the industry and understand the international markets. They operate at senior managerial level, have extensive experience, and an undisputed track record in the maritime sector.

MARSTRAT cargo harbour

Funding issues of Ballast Water Treatment systems

Raymond Ko |

Raymond Ko - Marstrat - Ship FinanceOn December 8 the Royal Association of Dutch Shipowners (KVNR) organised a seminar in Amersfoort (NL) on issues connected with the recently ratified international ballast water convention. Marstrat’s financial specialist Raymond Ko was asked to share his vision on funding issues connected with installing Ballast Water Treatment systems into existing ships. Other topics included legislative and operational impact of the convention, that come into force in September 2017.

Some 90 shipowners and associated KVNR members attended the session and held good discussions on regulations and technical solutions that are available. Installation of such solutions on an existing vessel is a huge investment, ranging from $  300,000 for small ships to $ 1,000,000 plus for large ships. A substantial investment, especially now that liquidity is under pressure due to continuing challenging economic times for shipowners. It is expected that most owners, especially smaller and medium-sized companies are going to bring forward special surveys before September 8, 2017. By doing so the vessels are compliant until the next obligatory class survey. In other words, it postpones investments and keeps them in the clear for another five years.

Raymond proposed shipowners to actively deal with this challenge instead of pushing decisions forward. They should engage and involve multiple parties like shipyards, suppliers and banks. “From a credit perspective banks might not see valid reasons to leverage further on a vessel, especially in this market, they have clear interest in their security vessels being compliant and therefore marketable.” Raymond explains. Additionally banks have an interest to support sustainable shipping. A combination of funding can be a solution when coordinated well: bank facility increase, seller’s credit and owners funds. Subsidies and guarantee schemes (such as EIB) were discussed as well but have proven challenging in the past given availability and size, even for the stronger owners.

Please contact Raymond Ko if you would like to share thoughts or seek advise.



Raymond Ko - Marstrat

Marstrat welcomes Raymond Ko

Raymond Ko |

Marstrat introduces ship finance specialist Raymond Ko as new partner. Trained as a shipping financier, Raymond has supported the development of many shipping companies in Western Europe, but also in Greece, the Middle East and Russia by structuring loans to clients’ needs and capabilities and advising on corporate finance and capital raisings. More recently he managed a sizable equity portfolio of non-public shipping investments on behalf of a large Dutch bank.

With 18 years of maritime financial services and investment experience Marstrat is very happy Raymond joined the team and will contribute to build-up Marstrat’s capabilities towards clients. Raymond: “I aim to help companies improve and grow their business by strengthening or establishing relationships with for example providers of funding and use my network to develop or execute new ideas.”

CEO Martin Bloem: “Within Marstrat we share the passion for everything that floats. We bring the various disciplines together and we are sure Raymond’s experiences as shipping banker and having learned from highly volatile markets and crises adds true value to the team.

Raymond: “Now looking as an outsider to the banking industry whilst working with maritime entrepreneurs, I experience how the sector distrusts banks. It will take a long time to regain that trust and I believe both banker and ship-owner should invest more time to understand each other. I am sure this will open up the support for well thought proposals, whether for growth, complex restructurings or innovative projects.

The Marstrat team is keen to help you to take important steps for the future.