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Top maritime financial centres of the world

The leading maritime financial and legal centres of the world are often also recognised for their innovation and R&D. 

In its Leading Maritime Capitals of the World report, Menon cites the top cities for carrying out different maritime business activities. Fathom-news looks at how the top 5 financial centres, according to Menon, fare in terms of maritime technology and innovation.

Top financial centres according to Menon:

  1. London
  2. Oslo
  3. New York
  4. Singapore
  5. Shanghai

These rankings are based on leading bookmakers, mandated lead arrangers, total lending portfolio, number of maritime firms on the stock exchange, and the market capitalisation of maritime firms on the stock exchange.


Menon ranks London as the top financial centre of the world and has been ranked number 1 by the Global Financial Centres Index.  Both its law related services and marine insurance are ranked highly and it is home to world class maritime brokering services.

In terms of innovation and maritime technology, London is ranked 9th by Menon, falling behind Oslo and Shanghai.  This is based on industry experts selecting London as a leading centre for maritime technology, which considers R&D, education, ship building, and maritime equipment.

While it still remains high on Menon’s list, its 9th place in maritime technology and innovation is largely driven by its maritime education and research institutions, in which it achieves 2nd.  However, it is less highly rated by industry experts that mention the city as a place to find companies producing world-class specialised maritime equipment, reaching 12th place behind Singapore, Shanghai, and Oslo.


Oslo has a strong financial position thanks to Norway’s historical position in the maritime industry and the development of world leading financial centres. Two leading shipping banks are located in Oslo – Nordea and DNB.  It also has a strong and focussed maritime stock exchange and leading insurance and brokering entities.

Its financial position is helped by the Oslo Stock Exchange, which is the largest securities marketplace for shipping in Europe. Furthermore, Norway benefits from a willing community of shipping investors and has a solid maritime cluster.  Menon also reports that Oslo is the most important centre in the world for syndicated financing, by which most ships are financed in order to reduce risk for individual lenders.

In terms of innovation, Oslo fares well. According to Menon, it has the strongest position in brokerage, shipping finance, maritime law, insurance, and technology.

New York

New York ranks as number 3 on the list, partly due to the world’s largest maritime stock exchange being located here, which helps it to finance maritime operations. It is the largest equity market in the world for maritime stocks, according to Menon. New York, Oslo, and London are cited as having highly specialised maritime competence within their banks and financial services.

The US city is also home to more than 250 shipping companies with more shipping companies listed on the New York exchange than any other exchange. While it has a significant maritime community, including financial institutions, law firms, brokerage and more, it doesn’t quite make Menon’s top 25 in terms of maritime technology and innovation.


Singapore takes 4th place as a maritime financial centre and is stated by industry experts as being home to world class brokering services. In particular, the Singapore Maritime Foundation has been used to develop the Singapore’s own Ship Sale Form and has worked to build a modern Charter Party form with BIMCO and ASBA, indicating its growing importance as a leading international maritime legal centre.  It is also supported heavily by the Maritime Innovation and Technology Fund since 2003

In terms of maritime technology, Singapore has climbed higher on Menon’s ranking, from 5th in 2015 to 2nd in 2017. Singapore has attracted many R&D centres to the city, which is expected to increase its status as a maritime technology hub in the future. Menon ranks it highly because it is a place where buyers and sellers can meet without the companies necessarily producing ship equipment and technological products in Singapore.

According to Wong Weng Sun, President & CEO, Sembcorp Marine, Singapore is a technology-driven arena. Marine and offshore entities are increasing in the city, and support from research bodies and tertiary institutions has helped expand its technological boundaries and enhance its competitiveness.


Menon reports that Shanghai has a strong stock exchange, with the second largest market capitalisation of maritime stocks. It is ranked 5th overall for maritime finance and law, with one or two major companies dominating the value of maritime stocks.  China Shipbuilding Industry combined with Shanghai International Port Group has a combined market capitalisation of USD $51bn.

Shanghai also has highly specialised maritime competency, ranking 7th, with London, Singapore and New York beating it to the top spot. In terms of education and R&D, Shanghai is ranked 7th by Menon as having some of the best educational institutions in the world.

Technological innovation in Shanghai is promising, largely thanks to its shipbuilding status and producer of maritime equipment. While the technical capacity is increasing in China, Menon reports that Chinese yards import 50% of equipment installed in vessels, indicating that the most advanced parts of the equipment industry are found in places outside of China. Menon experts rank Shanghai as the number 1 place for quantity of maritime orientated personnel working in the leading classification societies in the city.


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