French ship-owners have begun to use a new fund offered by the government, designed to protect them from the introduction by banks of “loan to value” clauses for the finance of newbuildings. There will be €15million made available to each ship owning company. The scheme is aimed at preventing banks from demanding cash to account for the difference between mortgage payments and the market value of ships, which has of course plummeted during the recession. French owners have until the end of 2010 to use the fund.