Founded in 2014, Sonan Bunkers (UK) Ltd is a relatively young business operating in the marine fuel supply sector, but was established by experienced industry veteran Graham Furse. The company provides refuelling services to commercial marine vessels out of Rotterdam; the $150 million turnover business also offers a global broking and trading service for shipping clients from its offices in London, Rio de Janeiro, Athens, Singapore, Oslo and Rotterdam.
Sonan Bunkers had done an excellent job of growing the business without any significant third-party funding. However, in an industry where margins are typically very fine, and with a balance sheet and retained profits that were relatively small, further continued growth was dependent on access to funding.
FRP was appointed to look for a funding facility of up to $10 million to support the next phase of Sonan Bunker’s growth. The company’s only real balance sheet asset was its accounts receivable of c$15 million; however, most of the debtors were based across a range of international territories, ruling out several traditional UK financiers.
With extensive experience in this sector among our Debt Advisory team, we presented to a number of lenders including international and specialist banks. The biggest hurdles for most lenders revolved around the thin margins and the export-led nature of the business.
We accepted a $10 million offer of a new 18-month asset-based lending facility for Sonan Bunkers, in a deal that more than doubles the value of the company’s previous funding. The lender took the time to understand the business properly, conducted legal due diligence around the assignability and collectability of debts in insolvency, and subsequently approved a suitable facility. The export receivables finance facility provided by the lender is expected to also boost the profitability of the business, with Sonan Bunkers continuing to trade well and looking to double its turnover, despite the period of turbulent oil prices and global disruption caused by COVID-19.
The value of the new funding facility for Sonan Bunkers