Awards

Shipping: Finance (International firms)

Shipping: Finance (International firms)

Chris Vartzis Partner

Chris is a partner with Stephenson Harwood, Piraeus. He is an asset finance specialist with particular focus on and extensive experience in, the financing of all types of vessels (including yachts) and aircrafts (corporate jets) working with major global banks and financial institutions specialising in asset financing (including ECA facilities). Chris also advises owners in the context of negotiation and entering into ship financing facilities.
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Chris has substantial experience in syndicated and bilateral loan facilities, sale and lease back facilities, restructurings, work-outs, IPOs, intercreditor and subordination arrangements, accession deeds, financing and sale and purchase of second-hand vessels and financing of newbuildings with particular expertise in Chinese, Korean and Vietnamese newbuildings, shipbuilding contracts and refund guarantees. In addition to working with and advising major Greek shipowning groups, he also works on markets outside Greece, especially in Turkey, working with Turkish diversified conglomerates, and with shipping groups in Bulgaria, Croatia and Norway.

Dual qualified in England & Wales and Greece, he is known for his experience and motivation to develop solutions for complex, cross-border financing transactions and clients value his commercial and innovative legal approach and his proactiveness and efficiency.

Clients describe Chris as "very diligent and very efficient in his work" with "extensive experience combined with a commercial approach and excellent communication skills" regularly acting on cross-border mandates involving Turkey, and clients outline his "'out-of-the-box' thinking".

"Extensive experience combined with a commercial approach and excellent communication skills." 

Chambers UK 2023

  • Shipping
  • Aviation finance
  • Finance
  • Ship and offshore finance

Financing, leasing and ECA facilities 

Acting for major international financial institutions and banks on syndicated and bilateral loan facilities (including ECA facilities) for the financing of vessels of all types, sale and lease-back facilities, restructurings, work-outs, IPOs, intrecreditor and subordinations arrangements, accession deeds, financing and sale and purchase of second-hand vessels and financing of newbuildings.

ECA facility

Acting for  Dutch bank in its capacity as agent, lender and security agent on a K-sure backed loan facility for the acquisition of a bulk carrier vessel to be registered in the ownership of a Marshall Islands corporation with a major Greek shipping group, including complex K-sure arrangements and negotiations in relation to the loan facility exposure and detailed negotiation with both the borrower, its Korean counsel and the K-sure agent and K-sure Korean counsel.

Work-out

Advising German bank in relation to a syndicated loan facility where the security was granted in favour of all three lenders, rather than a security agent, including acting for the agent in connection with the assignment of the lenders' security as a result of the sale of that lender's participation to another lender. The work included supplementing the facility to reflect the change in the shareholding structure of the borrower and its joint venture structure and entailed major restructuring of the facility and the granting of new security.

Secured loan facility

Acting for a German bank in relation to a syndicated facility for the refinancing of a bulk-carrier vessel registered in the ownership of a Turkish borrower forming part of a major Turkish conglomerate active in shipping and shipbuilding, including advising on a security structure involving Turkish, Marshall Islands and Maltese corporate guarantors, personal guarantees, shares pledges, and mortgages. The deal included interesting questions regarding the concept of "trust" structures and "parallel debt" principles and priority issues.

More: Shipping

Financing and leasing

Representing banks and aircraft lessors on the financing and operation of corporate jets.

Financing of commercial jet

Advising Greek bank in the context of financing of corporate jet registered under the Greek Registry.

Leasing of corporate jet and financing

Acting for Greek bank in the case of a business jet being leased out to an operator and deregistering aircraft from Greek Registry and registering it under the UK Registry.

Leasing of business jet

Advising aircraft owner in the context of change of operator of business jet and advising owner on the loan and security documentation prepared by bank's lawyers.

More: Aviation finance

Advising major Greek bank in relation to a US$125 million secured term loan facility extended to a NASDAQ listed company for the purpose of refinancing existing indebtedness over 17 vessels and providing Group with liquidity to redeem existing bond.

Advising major European bank in relation to a US$26,000,000 partial financing of a bulk carrier vessel under the terms of a MOA secured by, amongst others, a first priority mortgage over the vessel, assignment, personal guarantee, share charges and Greek account charge.

Acting in relation to a US$88,500,000 secured loan facility for the purpose of refinancing existing indebtedness over five Hong Kong flag container vessels and for working capital purposes.

Acting for major Dutch bank in connection with a US$36,644,921.31 secured loan facility extended to one of the largest shipping companies listed in NASDAQ for the partial refinancing of scrubbers. The facility was subordinated to senior facilities of the same bank and was secured, by inter alia, second-priority mortgages over 18 collateral vessels.

Advising in relation to a US$26,000,000 financing of the purchase price of a bulk carrier vessel, providing extensive legal advice in respect of obtaining shares charge over shares in the Borrower incorporated in Norway (owned by a joint venture between Greek and Norwegian interests).

Acting for Dutch bank, as assignee bank in connection with the assignment of certain secured term loan facilities of an aggregate amount of US$31,710,000 and transfer of related security documents, that formed part of major European bank's portfolio of ship loans with relevant shipping groups.

Acting as English legal counsels for lessees and holding companies, in connection with two sale and leaseback transactions of an aggregate amount of US$183,5000,000 with two major Chinese leasing companies and their respective subsidiaries, for the sale and leaseback of 7 newbuilding bulk carriers.

Shipowners work

Acting for and advising major Greek shipowning groups, Turkish diversified conglomerates and shipping groups operating out of Croatia, Bulgarian Norway, Switzerland and France on ship finance projects and financing arrangements.

Ships

Advising leading financial institutions on debt and equity financing for all types of vessels (including yachts).

Secured facility – owner's work

Advising shipping group in the context of a US$60 million multi-currency syndicated facility with Australian bank as agent being extended to SPCs including reviewing, revising and commenting for and on behalf of the borrowers the loan agreement and the security documents.

Advising Greek shipping group in the context of a US$180million secured LMA loan facility in respect of the refinancing of 6 vessels.

Sale and purchase of vessels

Acting for seller (distressed asset fund managed by major international bank) in the context of the forced sale of bulk carrier, involving drafting and negotiating MOA and all relevant documents.

Advising buyer in the context of purchase of yacht flying Greek flag.

Newbuildings

Advising shipping group on terms of the building contracts and refund guarantees in respect of two bulk carriers and two options to be built in leading PRC shipyard, in view of the proposed financing of the vessels by a syndicate of international banks.

More: Finance

Advising in relation to a US$17,500,000 secured term loan facility for working capital purposes in relation to a vessel flying the Maltese flag owned by a reputable Turkish shipping group.

Acting for major Dutch bank, as assignee bank in connection with the assignment of certain secured term loan facilities of an aggregate amount of US$103,200,000 initially granted by other major European bank to a series of shipping groups.

Financing, leasing and ECA facilities

Advising international and domestic banks and equity funds on the financing of both second-hand vessels and newbuildings (including ECA facilities) with particular emphasis on Chinese, Korean and Vietnamese newbuildings, shipbuilding and shipsale contracts and refund guarantees.

Secured facility refinancing fleet 

Advising agent to syndicate of bank on a US$120 million loan facility for the re-financing of a part of a major Turkish fleet in respect of 10 tankers and 2 bulk carrier vessels registered in the ownership of Maltese single purpose owning companies, with a corporate guarantee from the parent company. The deal involved complex negotiations of the loan terms and conditions and the security documentation, including tax and stamp duty issues.

Debt financing of part of fleet in the context of IPO 

Advising a large syndicate on a US$275 million secured loan facility for the refinancing of 10 tanker vessels. This transaction was distinct due to the fact that the refinancing of Sponsor's  major part of tanker fleet was to take place in conjunction with the listing of a new company (the guarantor in the transaction) on the Oslo stock exchange involving the transfer of ownership of the 10 borrowing companies from the previous shareholder to the new company which was to be listed. The matter involved multiple jurisdictions, 5 syndicates of outgoing mortgagees and extensive coordination with Norwegian lawyers in respect of the listing aspects of the transaction. Further involved in a detailed revision of underlying Acquisition Agreement which set out the transfer of ownership, considering and analysing the impact on the facility and security and adapting loan documentation accordingly. 

Restructuring

Advising Greek bank in the context of major restructuring of the financings amounting to US$160 million to a Greek shipping group (such restructuring involving all facilities of the group being extended by different banks) involving refinancing elements; bridge loan, co-ordinating with other banks being involved in the restructuring.

More: Ship and offshore finance

  • Aviation

Financing and leasing

Advising banks and aircraft lessors on the financing and operation of corporate jets.

Financing of commercial jet

Advising Greek bank in the context of financing of corporate jet registered with the Hellenic Aircraft Registry.

Leasing of corporate jet and financing

Acting for Greek bank in the case of a business jet being leased out to an operator and deregistering aircraft from Hellenic Registry and registering it with the UK Registry.

Leasing of business jet

Advising aircraft owner / lessor in the context of change of operator of business jet and advising owner on the loan and security documentation prepared by bank's lawyers.

More: Aviation

  • Greece

Greek law – drafting and registration of Greek law mortgages

Advising bank on and documenting for banks, Greek law mortgages and discharges of mortgages over ships of class A and class B.

Greek law – security over immoveable property

Advising and obtaining prenotation of mortgages over real estate properties in Greece in the context of financings being extended by banks to companies and individuals with immoveable properties in Greece.

Greek law - drafting Greek law account and shares pledges

Advising banks on and drafting Greek law pledges over accounts located in Greece under loan facilities governed by English law and shares pledges in the case of bearer or registered shares in Greek incorporated companies.

More: Greece

Awards

Shipping: Finance (International firms)

Shipping: Finance (International firms)

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© Stephenson Harwood LLP 2016. Any reference to Stephenson Harwood in this document means Stephenson Harwood LLP and/or its affiliated undertakings. Any reference to a partner is used to refer to a member of Stephenson Harwood LLP.