Latsis and Costamare-backed Neptune Maritime Leasing has announced a “collaboration” with former Ocean Yield chief executive Lars Solbakken.

The Jersey-registered operation has brought the experienced shipping and finance man in as an advisor to the executive board.

Harris Antoniou, founder and chief executive of Neptune Leasing, said he was honoured that “yet another leading shipping expert has agreed to support our platform of leasing services to the maritime community”.

“Lars will help us reach our goal to build a high quality diversified portfolio in shipping and oil services,” he said.

Chair Gabriella Kindert said Solbakken’s long experience in the sector will help Neptune Leasing pursue its mission and growth objectives.

Solbakken stepped down from Ocean Yield in February after 40 years in front-line shipping roles.

He had been with the Norwegian sale-and-leaseback shipowner, which was bought in December by US private equity giant Kohlberg Kravis Roberts (KKR), for 12 years.

Solbakken told TradeWinds at the time that he was sure he would continue to have “new, less operative roles” within shipping.

On Monday, he said: “The company is well positioned to offer a very competitive leasing product and should be a very attractive financing partner for both shipping and oil-service companies.”

Solbakken has also been chief executive of John Fredriksen’s Ship Finance International, as well as Norwegian Car Carriers.

In banking, he was general manager of Fortis Bank in Oslo, and at Christiania Bank — now Nordea — he was a senior vice president and deputy head of shipping.

Big-name backing

Neptune Leasing was set up by ship financier Antoniou with the backing of the Latsis group in 2021.

In March, Greek owner Costamare invested up to $200m in the company, becoming a leading shareholder.

The Latsis clan’s Latsco Family Office also increased its stake.

Antoniou told TradeWinds in 2021 that the company planned to work in the niche left open by the retreat of traditional financiers, to help clients meet mounting decarbonisation mandates from regulators.

He described the organisation’s initial focus as midsize shipowners that make up 60% of the market in terms of ownership but who were left “less-attended by the traditional sources of capital”.

Before setting up Neptune Leasing, Antoniou had been out of shipping since parting ways in September 2019 with Amsterdam Trade Bank, where he had served as chief executive for four years.