German lender Hamburg Commercial Bank (HCOB) has logged weaker earnings from its ship financing operations in 2023.

The private equity-controlled bank said maritime net profit came in at €81m ($87m), down from €88m in 2022.

Total shipping income improved slightly to €180m, compared to €177m the year before.

This was despite a decline in lending volumes, HCOB added.

Higher administrative expenses and loan-loss reversals below the level of 2022 offset this growth, however.

Gross new business with national and international shipping companies with good credit ratings amounted to €1.3bn, against €1.6bn in 2022.

The shipping book stood at €2.9bn to 30 June, but no updated figure was given.

The bank’s overall net profit was down at €271m from €425m, due to a bigger tax bill of €156m.

Net interest income grew 21% at €683m, however.

Group loan-loss provisions came in at €79m, against reversals of €11m in 2022, but these related to property.

Good start to 2024

The bank’s capital and liquidity positions remained at a high level, HCOB said.

“Following the extraordinary success in 2023, Hamburg Commercial Bank has also started the current year on a positive note,” added chief executive Ian Banwell.

The non-performing exposure (NPE) volume increased to €800m from €405m owing, in particular, to higher interest rates and the resulting weakness in the property market.

The NPE ratio rose for the first time in four years and stood at 2.3% at year-end.

Pre-tax profit is expected to hit more than €300m in 2024, the bank said.