When Dimitris Krontiras retired as a shipping banker in the late 1990s he had an illustrious career behind him.

Steering Citibank’s Greek ship lending for more than three decades, he provided the training ground for an entire generation of shipping bankers in his home country.

Along the way, he played a key role in putting Piraeus on the map as an international ship financing centre.

“He was a major international ship financing personality,” said John Platsidakis, another Greek shipping banker who later became a senior executive at the Angelicoussis Group.

Krontiras was known to handle business in a conservative and cautious fashion.

When he retired in 1997, he proudly pointed out that over the decades he was in charge of Citibank’s ship lending out of Piraeus the bank wrote just $4m to $5m-worth of bad loans.

No other foreign lender had a pure shipping branch in Piraeus when Krontiras joined the US lender in 1964. Three years later, Citibank provided its first shipping loan in Greece. The client was Eletson — a company very few people had heard of at the time but which became a household shipping name later.

Krontiras quickly rose through the ranks. In 1974, he was appointed Citibank Greece’s head of shipping. In 1987, he expanded his remit to become head of ship financing for all of Europe, the Middle East and Africa.

It was from these positions that he really made his mark during the big shipping recession of the 1980s.

“He backed the owners he believed in and he was proven right,” Platsidakis said.

Krontiras was rewarded for this in 1989, when Citibank appointed him managing director of its entire Greek franchise.

Under his leadership, Citibank’s Piraeus branch became the first Greece-based outfit to take a local shipping company to international capital markets — Eletson again, which raised $140m in the US in 1993.

New role

Having acquired a deep knowledge of how shipping works, Krontiras did not find it hard to switch roles after retiring as a banker.

In the decades that followed, he stayed close to the scene as chairman of Kristen Marine and affiliate Roxana Shipping, which is still controlled by his family and led by his son, Constantine.

In statements to TradeWinds 20 years ago, Dimitris Krontiras said he was “very much in the back seat” as far as leading at the two outfits were concerned.

Being in the back seat, however, did not stop him from travelling until 2013 to the likes of South Korea to take delivery of tanker newbuildings his company had ordered.

Krontiras’ long presence in Greek financing was reflected in a host of board memberships at non-shipping firms and institutions. That included a vice chairmanship at Greek corporate heavyweight Titan Cement.

Fluent in English and French, Krontiras was also a board member at the estate of the Greek Orthodox church and the Campion School, a private British school in Athens. Krontiras was also a founding member of the Piraeus Marine Club.

His funeral will take place in the northern Athens suburb of Ekali on 16 March.