Greek Shipping News Cuts
Week 02 - 2005

 

Greek shipowners stay on top of the buoyant wave in global market

---The especially successful performance of Greek-owned shipping in 2004 is reflected in the sizable foreign currency inflows - recently shown in the Bank of Greece data - which exceeded those of tourism. Greek shipowners fully tapped the buoyant conditions of the global shipping industry and achieved high profitability and growth.
In the first 10 months of last year, Greece's foreign currency earnings from shipping reached 10.9 billion euros, against 10.2 billion from exports and 9.2 billion from tourism. This performance acquires added significance when account is taken of the fact that 2004 was the year of the Olympics. In September, tourism industry agencies announced an increase in the number of visitors compared to a year earlier. Still, shipping industry sources argue that the relevant figure is a poor reflection of the profitability of Greek shipping firms, as the sector is traditionally characterized by a lack of data and there are few such firms listed on stock markets around the globe.
The buoyancy of Greek shipping groups is also indicated by the fact that, as banking sources note, several shipowners used the favorable conditions to pay off existing loans, thus improving their net position. Many others took out new loans to finance new ship orders. According to recent estimates, Greek shipowners have placed about 350 such orders, totaling a capacity of approximately 30 million dwt. This would represent roughly 18 percent of the world's current total orders, in line with the percentage of Greek ownership in world shipping.
Industry sources argue that the figure would have been much larger had world shipbuilding capacity been greater. Most shipyards project full-capacity utilization until 2008, which has delayed some of the recent orders from Greek shipowners.
The move that stole the show was the Restis group's First Financial Corporation, which bid $740 million for 32 bulk ships from the Malaysian International Shipping Corporation. Another big move was Petros Georgopoulos's acquisition of 16 bulk vessels from Chinese company Cofco. According to sources, the amount involved was $420 million.
In the tanker segment of the market, Greek companies are facing concentration trends. The recent $843 million acquisition of Athens-based Stelmar, of the Haj-Ioannou group, by the Overseas Shipholding Company, surely stands out. Another big buyout may also be in the offing - of Georgopoulos's Genmar by the giant of the sector, Frontline.
At the same time, Dynacom Tankers, of the Prokopiou group, has acquired two VLCC tankers (of more than 300,000 dwt) from Saudi Aramco for $316 million. The group is also among three Greek concerns that have decided to enter the liquid natural gas (LNG) transportation segment and has placed a number of orders for new vessels. Due to the hazardous contents and particular construction specifications, LNG vessels are especially costly but their operation also yields higher returns. As a rule, such vessels are operated on chartering contracts.
Forecasts for 2005 are in a similar vein, as many Greek shipowners are again expected to play a prominent role in developments, both regarding stock market deals and privately. The moves of the large groups are expected to be of particular interest; in recent months, they have shown a rather conservative attitude, preferring to tap profitable opportunities by selling part of their fleets at especially good prices.
Source: By Nikos Roussanoglou, www.ekathimerini.com, 11 Jan 05


EU Commission warns Greece over capital tax regime
---BRUSSELS (AFX) - The European Commission said it has sent a formal request to Greece, demanding a change to the country's capital tax regime.
Presently, capital tax is levied on companies that transfer their headquarters to the country, and Greece also grants exemptions to agricultural and maritime companies from the duty.
The commission said these provisions contravene a directive on the raising of capital 'which allows member states to subject only the formation of companies, not their transfer, to capital duty, and does not allow Greece to exempt specific economic sectors from the tax'.
The formal request is the penultimate stage of the EU's infringement process, before a referral to the EU's highest court.
'If Greece does not amend its legislation within two months, the commission may refer the matter to the Court of Justice,' the commission said in a press statement.
Under the European directive governing capital tax, EU governments are allowed to levy capital tax up to a maximum of 1 pct on capital raised for the formation of a company.
Source: AFP via Yahoo! UK & Ireland Finance Thu, January 13, 2005 04:11 AM GMT, http://uk.biz.yahoo.com


Lauritzen Kosan sells three more units to Greece
"Lady Kira" will be taken over next month, while "Kaisa" will be taken over in May/June. The "Birgit Kosan" continues to sail for Lauritzen Kosan on a bareboatcharter for the next 12 months.
"We have bought a number of ships during the last one and a half year", says Jan Kastrup Nielsen, CEO of Lauritzen Kosan. "So we sold a few ships and invested the profit in newbuildings in Korea". (14.01.05)
Source: The Scandinavian Shipping Gazette, Newslette 01/05


George Economou's DryShips Files S-1 ~
A Look Inside
George Economou's dry bulk shipping IPO, to be called "DryShips", filed a prospectus today to sell 7.1 million shares at $16-$18 each in an initial public offering with underwriters Cantor Fitzgerald & Co., Hibernia Southcoast Capital, Oppenheimer & Co., Dahlman Rose & Company, and HARRISdirect. A market report from CBS Market watch today reported that the price rang is actually $14-$16. DryShips plans to pay a 5% dividend and will be listed on the Nasdaq under the ticker symbol "DRYS."
As is our policy, we will refrain from presenting our valuation of the company until the transaction is complete, so the following facts have been taken directly from the offering document.
Sources & Uses of IPO Funds
As the accompanying chart illustrates, at the time of theoffering DryShips will own five panamax and one capesize vessel. The company also has 11 more dry bulk carriers on subjects for an aggregate cost of $322 million.
The the company states it will use the estimated $111.5 million net proceeds of the offering together with $145 million borrowed under a new $185 million credit facility from Commerzbank and HSH, 1.35 million shares and up to $30 million under another credit facility that it plans to put together to finance the purchase. The company will have $7.0 million in cash immediately prior to the closing of this offering.
According to the document, DryShips will acquire the capesize drybulk carrier Netadola and five panamax drybulk carriers - Paragon, Samsara, Waikiki, Toro, and Iguana - from companies beneficially owned by Mr. Economou's sister for a total purchase price of $197.8 million with delivery by April 29, 2005. Netadola and the four Panamax drybulk carriers, Paragon, Samsara, Waikiki and Toro, will come in at the same purchase prices as those companies paid when they acquired the vessels from unaffiliated third parties ($164.3 million), and the panamax drybulk carrier Iguana will be acquired at its fair market value ($33.5 million). DryShips will buy the remaining five Identified Vessels directly from unaffiliated third parties at the aggregate purchase price of $119.0 million.
Note: Of Dilution & Dividends, Strategy and DryShips Fleet & Acquisitions are available at: http://www.marinemoney.com/freshlyminted/PDFFiles/2005/FM20050113.pdf
Source: www.marinemoney.com, Freshly Minted Weekly online, 13 Jan 05


Alafouzos deals demonstrate freedom and flexibility
---The Alafouzos group may have turned its back on a listing on the Athens Stock Exchange for its specially created tanker company Argonaftis but is perhaps demonstrating in its recent dealings on the secondhand ship market why it did this. In less than two weeks, three companies linked to Alafouzos have sold ships at attractive prices displaying a freedom to take advantage of the market that would not be possible for a company listed in Athens.
When set up two years ago to satisfy the requirements for the listing of an oceangoing operation, Argonaftis excited ASE officials who were predicting the first listing of a major ship operator. This was not surprising as Argonaftis is a wholly-owned subsidiary of Kathimerini SA, the media group owned by Alafouzos which is already listed on the exchange and which, as an investor in shipping, has been boosting its own bottom line by reaping the benefits of the booming market.
However, a Kathimerini confirmation January 5 that the aframaxes Nissos Christiana (built 1996) and the Niriis (built 1998) have been sold to Dimitris Procopiou's Centrofin Management for a total $93.8m appears to have scuppered the landmark flotation. In fact, Newsfront reported the Nissos Christiana deal for $41.7m early last September and now the $52.1m sale of the Niriis sees 50% of Argonaftis' four-ship fleet, as required under ASE listing rules, gone.
The deals are seen as further profit taking for Kathimerini shareholders. Headed by Aristides Alafouzos, the group seems set for another windfall as reports circulate the family's Kyklades Maritime Corp has sold the 320,000dwt Gemini Voyager (built 1999) and Regulus Voyager (built 2000) to John Angelicoussis' Kristen Navigation for what could end-up being a deal worth $230m. The pair are chartered to ChevronTexaco and it is understood Angelicoussis will pay $173m to take the vessels on the basis the bareboat charters remain. If an agreement is reached and the charters broken, the ships could be worth $112m and $118m each, or $230m enbloc. Brokers say the charters, which have three and four years to run, will however remain. Kristen Navigation already has a chartering relationship with ChevronTexaco.
Finally, John Alafouzos-controlled Ermis Maritime has reduced its fleet to one unit, deciding to take advantage of the strong scrap market to end the trading career of the 23-year-old 88,000dwt Westchester. The ship has gone to Bangladesh for $440/lwt raising $6.3m. A few years back the Ermis' fleet stood at 15 units but now only has the 88,000dwt sister, Westminister.
Source: Issue nr. 1 (14 January 2005) of Newsfront Greek Shipping Intelligence newsletter.


Excel Maritime takes delivery of the first of five vessels purchased recently
---Excel Maritime Carriers Ltd (Amex: EXM - News), a shipping company specializing in the seaborne transportation of dry bulk cargoes such as iron ore, coal and grains, announced today that it took delivery of MV Goldmar on January 3, 2005, and immediately the vessel entered into a one-year time charter with a major Far Eastern charterer at the rate of $22,000 per day. MV Goldmar is a Handymax dry bulk vessel of approximately 40,000 dwt.
The Company agreed to acquire MV Goldmar on November 15, 2004, for a purchase price of $11.92 million.
CEO Christopher Georgakis commented, "MV Goldmar is the first of five recently purchased vessels to be delivered to Excel Maritime. We anticipate taking delivery of the remaining four vessels over the next 60 days and, in line with our deployment strategy, we intend placing a part of our fleet on long-term charters."
Georgakis added, "We believe that our recent acquisition of five dry bulk carriers has positioned us well to benefit from currently strong market conditions."
About Excel Maritime Carriers Ltd
The Company is an owner and operator of dry bulk carriers and a provider of worldwide seaborne transportation services for dry bulk cargo. This includes commodities such as iron ore, coal, grains, as well as bauxite, fertilizers and steel products. The Company currently owns and operates a fleet of two cape-size bulk carriers, two Handymax bulk carriers and one Handysize bulk carrier. An additional three Handymax bulk carriers and two panamax bulk carriers are expected to be delivered within the next 60 days, and upon delivery the Company's fleet size will increase to ten ships representing a total carrying capacity of 621,571 dwt. The Company was incorporated in 1988 under the laws of Liberia.
Forward Looking Statement
This press release contains forward-looking statements (as defined in Section 27A of the Securities Act of 1933, as amended, and Section 21E of the Securities Exchange Act of 1934, as amended) concerning future events and the Company's growth strategy and measures to implement such strategy; including expected vessel acquisitions and entering into further time charters. Words such as "expects," "intends," "plans," "believes," "anticipates," "hopes," "estimates," and variations of such words and similar expressions are intended to identify forward-looking statements. Although the Company believes that the expectations reflected in such forward-looking statements are reasonable, no assurance can be given that such expectations will prove to have been correct. These statements involve known and unknown risks and are based upon a number of assumptions and estimates which are inherently subject to significant uncertainties and contingencies, many of which are beyond the control of the Company. Actual results may differ materially from those expressed or implied by such forward-looking statements. Factors that could cause actual results to differ materially include, but are not limited to changes in the demand for dry bulk vessels, competitive factors in the market in which the Company operates; risks associated with operations outside the United States; and other factors listed from time to time in the Company's filings with the Securities and Exchange Commission. The Company expressly disclaims any obligations or undertaking to release publicly any updates or revisions to any forward-looking statements contained herein to reflect any change in the Company's expectations with respect thereto or any change in events, conditions or circumstances on which any statement is based.
For further information, please contact: Investors, Joe Allen, [email protected], or Media, Brian Kennedy, [email protected], both of Allen & Caron Inc, +1-212-691-8087, for Excel Maritime Carriers Ltd; or Christopher Georgakis, CEO of Excel Maritime Carriers Ltd, +30-210-45-98-692, [email protected]
Source: Press Release Source: Excel Maritime Carriers Ltd , Tuesday January 11, 4:20 pm ET


Bureau Veritas supports HELMEPA'S 2005 Training Programme
---Bureau Veritas Piraeus branch is systematically supporting Helmepa's efforts with regard to the training of shipping companies officers and ships officers on subjects related to Safety, Security and Environment Protection.
Mr. L.A. Chahalis, Principal Surveyor, who is leading the Marine Activities for Greece & Cyprus, is supporting Helmepa's program gratuitously, by providing dedicated experts, namely Mr. John Couyou for this year, to present 22 days seminars in 2005 on Security Compliance and Port State Control.
Source: Press Release, Piraeus, 11th January 2005


Neorion yard wins new mega yacht contract
---NEORION, Greece's oldest shipyard, has won its largest single-ship project in recent times - construction of a third small cruiseship for Monaco based Liveras Yachts.
The previous two Neorion-built mega yachts, Annaliesse and Alysia, delivered in 2003 and 2004, accommodate up to 36 passengers in guest staterooms and are said to charter at about $120,000 per day.
Announcing the fresh contract, Neorion president Nikos Tavoularis said the new vessel would also accommodate 36 guests and include a helicopter pad, diving, health and recreation facilities in luxury surroundings.
He said the deal confirmed the yard's place in "a highly demanding and competitive sector".
Mr Tavoularis added: "This new order gives us courage to overcome a period that is difficult for the shipbuilding and repair sector, especially for yards such as Syros that have not enjoyed state contracts for the last decade."
Stocklisted Neorion is Greece's third largest shipyard, while the two largest facilities, sister yard Elefsis and competitor Hellenic Shipyards, have both reaped recent programmes from the Greek navy.
Liveras, headed by Cypriot businessman Andreas Liveras, has said it wants to expand further into the construction of super yachts "in close association" with Neorion, with demand for such vessels coming from Asia, the Middle East and US markets.
Mr Tavoularis said the latest order proved "the wager [had] been won".
The island-based facility was floated on the stock market in 1999.
Source: www.lloydslist.com, Company News, By Nigel Lowry in Athens- Thursday January 13 2005


Attica Holdings receives two Ro-Ro ferries
---Attica Holdings announces the receipt of the Ro-Ro ferry m/v Nordia of 7,395 GRT and capable of carrying approximately 90 unaccompanied freight units, intended for the new route between Rostock Germany and Uusikaupunki Finland.
A second Ro-Ro ferry, m/v Marin of 5,972 GRT and capable of carrying 70 unaccompanied freight units, will be delivered today. Both ferries fly the Greek flag and sign the entry of Attica Group in the Ro-Ro market.
The service will commence today and according to previous announcements, it will run three times a week, complementing Superfast Ferries' everyday itinerary between Rostock Germany and Hanko Finland, operating since 2001.
12:19 - 10 January 2005 Following the recent acquisition of an 11.6% stake in HFD by Attica Holdings, Mr. Panagopoulos is in negotiations with HFD's other major shareholders aiming to further increase his stake in the company.
Rumors bring Mr. Panagopoulos having already secured a total stake of around 20%.
However, the press indicated that Mr Panagopoulos is not presently considering submitting an offer for the Minoan Lines' stake in HFD.
Furthermore, press information indicate the resurfacing of older rumours regarding a possible merger between Minoan Lines subsidiary HFD and Attica Holding's subsidiary Blue Star Ferries in the future. Both sides however deny this scenario.
Source: www.reporter.gr, 14:22 - 12 January 2005 -


Taiwan loses Kenting oil-spill suit
---DISMISSED: A Norwegian court refused to award substantial damages for the pollution of coral reefs and other vulnerable marine resources in the national park
Taiwan has suffered a big defeat in a high-profile international lawsuit, with a Norwegian court yesterday ruling that no damages would be awarded for ecological destruction caused by an oil spill near Kenting in 2001.
The ruling said Taiwan will receive only NT$9.53 million (US$295,000) for miscellaneous fees relating to environmental monitoring in 2001 and 2002. The court declared that no money would be awarded for ecological restoration.
The judgement said that bad weather in the ecological reserve could not guarantee the success of a proposal by Taiwan to transplant or grow new colonies of coral in Lungkeng, which bore the brunt of the oil spill from the Greek-registered MV Amorgos off Kenting.
The judgment also said Taiwan would share legal costs of nearly NT$16.9 million.
"We are very sorry about the result. They did not consider the evidence provided by Taiwanese experts," Leu Horng-guang (???), director-general of the Environmental Protection Administration's (EPA) Bureau of Water Quality Protection, told a press conference yesterday.
The Amorgos, en route from Indonesia to China, ran aground near Kenting National Park in bad weather on Jan. 14, 2001. Four days later, 1,150 tonnes of oil began to leak, contaminating 6,987m2 of the Lungkeng Ecological Reserve. The spill polluted the water, damaged the coastal ecological system and disrupted fishing in the area.
A Norway-based insurance company representing the vessel's owner, Assuranceforeningen Gard (Gjensidig), paid out NT$61 million for the cleanup in Lungkeng, NT$1.8 million for forest restoration, NT$84.7 million for removal of part of the wrecked ship and NT$123 million to local fishermen.
But the government demanded more compensation for losses incurred by the fishing and tourism industries, as well as lost government revenue and the damage to the local ecology. Officials estimated that the government might receive an additional NT$350 million.
The court heard the case in early November. Five representatives for the plaintiff, including lawyers and ecological experts from Kenting National Park Headquarters and the National Museum of Marine Biology and Aquarium, appeared in court in Arendal, Norway, to explain how the spill had hurt the area.
According to museum biologist Fan Tung-yung (???), a new investigation of ecological losses resulting from the spill had shown that the percentage of coral coverage in affected areas had fallen from 80 percent to 30 percent.
EPA officials said yesterday that the value of coral reefs in the tropics had not been fully recognized by the court.
They said that ecological experts from around the world have called for better protection of coral reefs in coastal areas following the devastating tsunamis of Dec. 26.
"Taiwan needs to seek more professional assistance from the international community to highlight the value of coral reefs," Leu said.
Officials said that coral reefs and mangroves function as buffers when tsunamis hit, and a lawsuit relating to the value of these rich ecosystems deserved to be treated more seriously.
Leu said that the full 65-page judgment will arrive next week and that the government had one month to file an appeal. By Chiu Yu-Tzu, STAFF REPORTER
Source: http://www.taipeitimes.com Wednesday, Jan 12, 2005,Page 1


Kefalogiannis guest speaker at Piraeus Marine Club Luncheon 25 Jan 2005
---We are pleased to announce that Mr Manolis, Kefalogiannis, Minister of Mercantile Marine, will be the guest speaker at our next Working Luncheon, to be held at the Club's premises on Tuesday 25th January 2005 at 13.00 hrs.
The speaker has kindly conceded to answer questions raised by the floor. Members are reminded that space is limited and as a consequence seats are allocated on a "first come first served" basis.
Luncheon tickets priced at euro 60.00 can be obtained from the Executive Secretary of the Club, Mrs Kate Vienna (at 210429 3606 or 210429 3607/8) not later than Monday 24th January 2005.
Due to limited space availability we regret to advise that the Piraeus Marine Club will be closed to non-participants on that day.
Source: Piraeus Marine Club