Genoa - In the offices of the Mariotti Shipyards of Genoa, for some weeks the employees have been working on the construction of the first of the two Seabourn cruise ships, the luxury and exploration brand of the Carnival group. The first unit should be delivered in June 2021 and the second unit in May 2022.
The order has a value of over 400 million euros and, according to estimates, it is destined over the four-year period to produce employment on national territory, particularly in Genoa, for about 800-1,000 people. A piece of the financial puzzle that holds the orders of this kind in shipbuilding, however, has not yet arrived and if it does not materialize in a short time the construction of the ships could end up in the hands of non-Italian shipyards. Bruno Manganaro, representative of the Fiom union, says: “Everyone thought the contract was signed. The state company Sace gave the guarantee. We have heard that some banks have not yet decided and this is a serious problem. In the naval sector, orders are lost (unfortunately for Italy) due to international competition. Losing orders because a normal financing mechanism is not finalized is unacceptable ».
The order of the new cruise ships - small (170 meters long, 264 passengers in 132 suites) but luxurious - was collected on 2 July by Damen-Mariotti, a new commercial alliance that allows the Dutch company to enter the cruise industry and to Mariotti to return, after the financial difficulties due also to the debt left by the Sultan of Oman, to work with Seabourn, his historical client.
The naval industry works through financial mechanisms supported by banks and guarantors. The owner usually anticipates a percentage of the total price of the ships and pays the balance on delivery. The construction of the ship is supported by bank loans, which allow the purchase of materials and pay for supplies: a sort of loan (the shipyard can not use that money to do anything else), which is repaid and remunerated as soon as the shipowner settle the bill.
According to financial sources, in order to support the order collected by Damen-Mariotti, there would be a pool of banks led by Intesa Sanpaolo. It would be Bnl and Unicredit, who have not yet decided how to behave, to slow down the signature of the comfort letter - a guarantee document signed by the owner. “If this operation is not closed, ships will be built on foreign sites,” says Manganaro. “Finance can not make industry difficult. If some banks do not want to participate, it is better to find other banks available or it is better for the government to intervene”.