Finance Authority of Maine considers loan or credit guarantee for firm that operates Portland-Nova Scotia ferry

The Nova Star approaches the Ocean Gateway Terminal in Portland for the first time in this April 2014 file photo.
The Nova Star approaches the Ocean Gateway Terminal in Portland for the first time in this April 2014 file photo. Buy Photo
Posted June 04, 2014, at 9:42 a.m.
Last modified June 04, 2014, at 7:03 p.m.

PORTLAND, Maine — The Maine agency that helps businesses find financing and its economic development department are in talks with operators of the newly restarted Portland-to-Nova Scotia ferry to help them secure a $5 million line of credit.

Bill Norbert, a spokesman for the quasi-public Finance Authority of Maine, said in an email that FAME’s talks with Nova Star Cruises are preliminary and could involve the agency guaranteeing some portion of a bank loan or providing the company a direct loan. The potential deal may involve one or more banks.

“Bottom line is we want to be helpful but can’t provide all the money, so are hoping to partner with others,” Norbert said.

The company is seeking a $5 million line of credit to support its operations. The line of credit was part of the company’s business plan submitted to Nova Scotia officials, who last year approved giving the company a $21 million loan that may be forgiven if the company meets certain conditions.

While Nova Star Cruises attempts to secure that line of credit, the Nova Scotia government has advanced the company $5 million. The province expected to provide the company $10.9 million for startup costs and another $1.5 million annually for seven years for marketing. It has so far given the company about $19 million, with the expectation that it would pay back $7 million in advances when possible.

Norbert said the state’s Department of Economic and Community Development also is involved in talks that they hope will result in a financing arrangement by the end of summer.

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