Borealis Maritime has formed a debt fund with private equity partners KKR and Oak Hill Advisors to provide $1bn in financing to small and medium-sized shipowners.

New subsidiary Australis Maritime has already notched up more than $70m on three loans as London-­based Borealis seeks to fill the gap left by shipping banks ­exiting the sector.

The goal is to grow rapidly and take advantage of the large supply and demand imbalance for shipping credit, Borealis founder and chief executive Christoph Toepfer said.