HSH Nordbank’s global trade finance team in Hamburg has been expanded once again. GTR caught up with some of the new team members that have recently been appointed to the division.

In March this year, Stephan Böttger joined the Hamburg-based global trade finance team from his previous position as head of the bank’s Riga representative office in Latvia, where he had been for four years.

Böttger joins Wiebke Brueck and Kersten Hoeft as the third member of the bank’s corporate sales team in global trade finance based in Hamburg but operating throughout Germany. This new addition brings the total number of Hamburg-based global trade finance staff to 19.

In his new role, Böttger is tasked with the promotion of sales of foreign payment, foreign trade and export finance products among the bank’s domestic corporate clients.

Before joining HSH Nordbank, Böttger gained experience with PwC Deutsche Revision in Hamburg, where he used to work in the consortium with Hermes Kreditversicherungs on behalf of the Federal Republic of Germany’s export credit agency.

Böttger reports to Timm Raatz, who joined as the bank’s Hamburg-based head of global trade finance in December last year from his GTS sales position at ABN Amro in Frankfurt.

According to Raatz, the effects of the global credit crisis on the bank have not been entirely negative, and he reports that there has not been a visible decrease in business. “But there’s a definite change,” he adds, noting that there are a number of new countries – including Spain and Ireland – coming into play.
“Our possibilities and capabilities are limited, so we can’t follow everything out of our own coverage. We are keeping a very close eye on country limits and counterparty limits,” Raatz says.

Raatz reports that the team is encountering smaller transactions that request coverage from “the traditional, typical names such as China, India, Russia and so on”.

In terms of the deals that are being signed, Raatz notes that the team is currently arranging very traditional LC trade-related financing. “This includes confirmation of letters of credit, forfaiting letters of credit, and, of course, getting more and more involved in the ECA-covered products. We are also seeing more short-term based revolving facilities – not only the traditional long-term transactions.”

Towards the end of last year, HSH Nordbank closed down its commodity finance activity. This decision was taken as a result of a package of measures designed to improve the bank’s financial strength.

According to Raatz, the discontinuation was due to the general refocusing on the bank’s core business. “We reduced our international presence and businesses, and commodity finance was mainly with international corporates and not those located in Germany.”

“We still do commodity finance,” Raatz adds. “It has not completely disappeared.” Clients in the core Hamburg/Schleswig-Holstein-region are supported by the bank’s corporate clients business unit.