CIT Group (CIT) in Livingston, N.J., has launched a unit that will originate and underwrite financing for seafaring vessels.

Svein Engh was appointed as managing director and group head of CIT Maritime Finance, the specialty lender said Tuesday. He will report to C. Jeffrey Knittel, president of CIT Transportation Finance.

The unit will offer senior secured loans, sale-leasebacks and bareboat charters to owners and operators of oceangoing cargo vessels, including tankers, container ships, car carriers and drilling rigs.

“The launch of CIT Maritime Finance demonstrates our efforts to increase the financing options offered through CIT Transportation Finance,” Knittel said. “There is strong demand for financing in the global marine sector, and the deep industry relationships and expertise of our new team, led by Svein, will enable us to capitalize on these opportunities.”

Before joining CIT, Engh served as chief executive of a shipping company, Octavian Maritime Holdings. Before that he was managing director at BNP Paribas Fortis where he was responsible for building its maritime portfolio in the North American market.

CIT focuses on serving small and midsize companies and offers asset-based loans, equipment financing and leasing, import-export financing and other commercial lending services.

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