Greek Shipping News Cuts
Week 22 - 2005

 

Karamanlis issues warning in wake-up call to Piraeus

---Greece may currently be the major force in world shipping, but it has no divine right to this crown, Prime minister Costas Karamanlis warns. "Greek-owned shipping may be the first power in the world, but experience of the last 10 years shows that if there are no concrete plans and we do not move in step with the industry's developments and take timely decisions, we can take nothing for granted," said Karamanlis.
"For us as a government and for Greeks as a whole, shipping is a national asset. It is a pillar of the Greek economy," said the PM June 3, after an early morning visit to the Piraeus-based Marine ministry where he met with Marine minister Manolis Kefaloyiannis and other senior ministry officials.
"Shipping is the most international element of the Greek economy and brings in impressive amounts of income as well as being the employer of tens of thousands of people at sea and ashore," said Karamanlis. He said the target of the government was to ensure Greece has a profitable, competitive shipping industry which is safe and environmentally friendly and flies the national flag.
The PM was in Piraeus to assess the work of the ministry and discuss shipping issues generally including the stand-off between minister Kefaloyiannis and Piraeus port workers, both within the port administration and dockside. Relations between port workers and the minister have become strained following Kefaloyiannis' refusal to sanction an agreement covering pay and working conditions hammered out by the management of the Piraeus Port Authority (PPA) and the dockers' unions.
Karamanlis was reportedly scheduled to visit the PPA before his 9am call at the ministry, but did not do so. Kefaloyiannis maintains productivity in the port is far too low and that wages paid to port workers have got out of hand - he says some draw Euro 140,000 annually - and steps have to be taken to adjust the situation and increase the port's competitiveness.
Meanwhile, dockers are refusing to work overtime and from June 9 plan a series of 24-hour strikes, one day on one day off, causing port users to warn there will be massive congestion. June 2, Karamanlis warned unions generally that he is determined to push through changes, even if he has not gotten their support.
"We want to make changes with the consent of the workers and unions but wherever this consent cannot be achieved we have to progress with realism, boldness and determination," said the PM. "We cannot go on burdening future generations of Greeks," he said.
Source: www.newsfront.gr, 3 June 2005 Vol. 6 / No. 21


Prime Minister Karamanlis unveils strategy for shipping sector
---The shipping industry is a "national capital" for Greece and one of the primary driving forces of the economy, Prime Minister Costas Karamanlis said on Friday.
Speaking to reporters after a meeting with Merchant Marine Minister Manolis Kefaloyiannis, the Greek PM said the meeting discussed progress of the government's policy in the sector. "It is the most outgoing sector of the economy, servicing international trade, earning foreign exchange and employing tens of thousands of workers," Karamanlis said.
"The Greek shipping industry, with a fleet of 3,400 vessels and a tonnage accounting for 16 percent of the world fleet, is the biggest and pioneering force in the world, but we should not rely on this success. The experience of the last 10 years has proven that nothing can be taken for granted unless there is a specific strategy plan and bold and timely decisions are taken," the Greek PM said.
Karamanlis said the shipping sector was a priority for the government and stressed that it would do everything possible to maintain the sector's competitiveness.
"The government has done a significant job so far, but much more needs to be done. Our goals are clear. We want a shipping industry profitable and competitive, safe and environmentally friendly. An industry with an increasing national shipping register that creates new job positions," he added.
In pointing to the government's achievements in the shipping sector during the past 15 months since it assumed power, Karamanlis referred to the activation of a national shipping council; the repatriation of 21 Greek seamen held in various jails aboard as well as promoting the massive shipping sector's positions at the IMO and at the European Union level.
The premier also cited a bill upgrading maritime education in the country and restructuring the entire tertiary system that produces merchant marine officers and engineers.
Source: http://www.ana.gr, Saturday 4, June 2005


Shipyard talks
---Elefsis Shipyards and French shipbuilding group DCN yesterday discussed possible cooperation options in the joint construction of warships and exchange of know-how. Elefsis Shipyards president Nikos Tavoularis said, "Cooperation will contribute significantly to employment, competitiveness and technology transfer, and in industrial cooperation in the European context." DCN officials, headed by president and director-general Jean-Marie Poimboeuf, also visited production units in Elefsina. DCN is Europe's greatest warship constructor.
Source: http://www.ekathimerini.com/, 03/06/2005


Jefferies speaks
---An initial public offering from Aries Maritime Transport of Greece " priced well" considering market conditions, says the investment banking chief of its lead underwriter, John Sinders of Jefferies & Co.
In an interview with TradeWinds on Friday morning, Sinders confirmed the issue priced at $12.50 per share with 12.2 million shares issued, and no secondary shares sold on behalf of Aries principals Gabriel Petridis and Mons Bolin.
Sinders also defended the integrity of the deal and of the Aries management, both of which have been under fire in comments by some in the tanker and financial markets. Aries originally sought to sell 15 million shares in a range betweeen $14 and $16, using a $15 figure for its working estimates.
"I think the deal priced well," Sinders said. "It came in only 100 basis points under our range, which is not bad in a bearish market, and it was two times oversubscribed. And contrary to some suggestions, the deal is not full of hedge funds. We sold to mutual funds and other solid, blue-chip investors.
"We could have priced the deal higher, but I think it's a credit to Gabriel and Mons that they did not try to wring every last dollar out of it, but were more mindful of the shareholders and how the stock was going to trade," Sinders said.
Sinders said only one investor had raised corporate-governance questions as reflected in a 20 May TradeWinds article, which stated that until shortly before its roadshow, Aries had been led by Greek shipowner Harry Petrakakos, who had been found responsible by a London High Court judge for blowing up his own ship in an insurance-fraud scheme.
The investor elected not to buy but indicated he would be interested in Aries shares in the secondary market, Sinders said. The investor had no problems with Jefferies due-diligence practices in vetting Aries management, Sinders said.
The Jefferies executive said he takes issue with some of TradeWinds' reporting regarding his firm's due-diligence practices, and is willing to discuss the issue further under the right circumstances in the near future.
For the present, Sinders leaves little doubt that he thinks shipping IPOs, particularly tanker-related IPOs, face a tougher go than they did only weeks or months ago.
"The market is definitely choppy," Sinders said. "First, people are concerned about tanker rates and the reasons behind their slowdown. Second, the IPO market in general is bad. People who just got skinned by a Lazard are not buying IPOs of any type."
Sinders blames the overall climate for Aries' inability to sell secondary shares that would have allowed Petridis and Bolin to take in $82m in the deal through disposal of 4.8m units.
"It was made clear to us very early on (in the roadshow) that investors are not going to consider an issue that includes secondary shares, and this is something that has not been an issue for investors heretofore," Sinders said
Critics also have faulted the Aries issue on the company's 10-year contracts with a private company owned by Petridis and Bolin for both technical and commercial management. Sinders said he did not believe this had been a drag on the offering; further, he said its is fairly typical for Europeans to resist bringing what is essentially a holding company -- "it's their family company, really" -- into a public deal.
Sinders also downplayed the absence of Petridis as an officer or director of the company, noting that similar circumstances are present with John Fredriksen's public vehicles.
On the other hand, investors saw positives in Aries presence in both the products-tanker and container markets, Sinders said. They were comforted that Aries full charter cover should be able to carry the company through any "soft spots" in the near future. Sinders noted that Aries had been the first "tramp container" IPO to get off, and that even discounted, the deal had priced at 13.6 times earnings.
The Jefferies chief did not go so far as to predict trouble for other shipping issuers now coming to market, but said they should be prepared to face a hit to their intended pricing.
"The discount has grown," he said.
Source: www.tradewinds.no, By Joe Brady in Stamford published: 17:28 GMT, 03 June 2005 | last updated: 17:35 GMT, 03 June 2005


Unions seek to prevent Greek ship from leaving
---Attempts will be made today to force a Greek ship being loaded with Forestry Tasmania logs, to remain docked in Burnie.
The captain of the ship Pontontos denied access to delegates from the Maritime Union of Australia (MUA) and the International Transport Workers Federation (ITF) when they tried to board the ship yesterday.
The organisations are concerned 16 Filipino workers on board are being bullied and denied human rights.
The federation says its lawyers will try to prevent the ship from leaving the Burnie Port today.
There are concerns workers are owed more than $US80,000.
Jason Cambell from the MUA says delegates want to meet the crew and check their conditions.
"It's not Australian what's going on and this is happening in Australia," he said.
"You know if we could could gain access to the vessel and talk to the crew, which is what we've been requested to do, a lot of this could be sorted out."
The ITF's Matt Purcell says the ship will be black-listed by 700 union affiliates around the world if access is denied again today.
"This owner will now face a worldwide campaign against their nine vessels from their ITF affiliates worldwide," he said.
Mr Purcell says the federation's lawyers will attempt to prevent the ship from leaving port today.
The Burnie Port Corporation has refused to comment on the matter.
Source: http://www.abc.net.au, Friday, 3 June 2005. 07:24 (AEST)Friday, 3 June 2005. 07:24 (ACST)Friday, 3 June 2005. 08:24 (AEDT)Friday, 3 June 2005. 05:24 (AWST)


Poulides all shook up at eyrie in Switzerland
---LIKE ELVIS, George Poulides is the focus of many dubious sightings. If witnesses are to be believed, the boss of ruined Festival Crociere has spent months on a magical mystery tour of his several homes all over Europe. Genoa to Cyprus; Crans Montana, Switzerland, to Athens; Monte Carlo to London; and most recently Rome, for the funeral of one pope and installation of another - his ghost has been repeatedly seen. But finally a confirmation that the Festival spectre lives: on 19 May, while enjoying the tranquillity of his mountain cottage in Switzerland, he was delivered a key document. Swiss police officers served Poulides with a notification issued by Genoa Judge Renato Delucchi of charges and personal bankruptcy in connection with Festival's ships becoming floating heartbreak hotels in May 2004. One of the reasons that Poulides had been so elusive in evading jailhouse rock - and has managed to avoid paying a single cent of at least $300M in debts related to Festival - is that the Greek-born entrepreneur has a measure of diplomatic status. He represents Cyprus at the Holy See - a status connected with efforts for the Greek Cypriot community by his late father Fotis - and thus has diplomatic immunity in Vatican City.
In Genoa meantime, Judge Delucchi issued an unprecedented ruling last week, finding that assets that might be useful for repaying some of Poulides's debts could be screened from use of defendants in the Festival collapse. The ruling confirmed a preliminary 7 May approval of such screening by lawyers representing Festival creditors. Lawyers defending 17 charged executives of the cruise line now have 30 days to try persuading the court to reverse the decision. Poulides has insisted that he had entrusted management of Festival entirely to his executives in 2001-4, so the court should harbour no suspicious minds about malfeasance by himself. The personal belongings of Festival's top managers have been seized by the Genoa court, whose investigation of the line's collapse is continuing. Among the Festival managers are notable names of Italian shipping and entrepreneurship: maritime lawyer Umberto Ferraro, former president of Festival Crociere Italia; shipping agent and shipowner Gianni Scerni (the current president of Rina and former Festival board member; Marina Acconci, former Festival board member, president of Festival Foundation and Poulides's trust lawyer; and Roberto Costaguta and Gianfranco Bozzini, once Festival MDs
Source: Fairplay International Shipping Weekly--02 Jun 2005


Cocaine captain gets 20 years
---RENNES, France (AFP) - The Greek captain and Chilean and Cypriot crew members of a cargo ship were convicted here on Saturday of cocaine smuggling, receiving prison terms ranging from three to 20 years.
Georgios Boreas, 61, captain of the Winner freighter, received a 20-year-prison term while his Cypriot chief mechanic Symeon Theophanous, 59, was given 18 years for "attempting to import drugs as part of an organized group." Two Chilean sailors received 10- and three-year terms.
During a joint operation by Greek, Spanish and US authorities, the Winner was intercepted in June 2002 by the French navy off the west coast of Africa, while apparently heading for Bilbao in Spain, and escorted back to the French port of Brest.
Police found around 90 kilos of cocaine on board the Cambodian-registered vessel, but said they believed its crew had thrown up to 2 tons of the drug worth 243 million euros overboard.
Crew members put up strong resistance during the raid, forcing the French navy to fire at the vessel several times and send in an elite commando unit.
One of the 12 crew members, a Spanish national, died the following month in a Senegal hospital from injuries sustained during the assault. The 11 other seamen were placed under provisional detention in France pending the criminal proceedings, which have now been completed.
Seven of the crew - four Romanians and three Ukrainians - were acquitted. Originally detained in Brest in 2002 they were released into the town nine months later after going on a lengthy hunger strike.
The four convicted men were cleared of the main charge of leading a drug-smuggling organization.
Source: Kathimerini, Greece - May 30, 2005,


Oil cleanup effort on Delaware ends
----The Unified Command coordinating cleanup of the Nov. 26 Delaware River oil spill disbanded Wednesday, marking an end to major cleanup work more than six months after the accident.
The Coast Guard, however, will continue overseeing contractors responding to tar balls and oil sheens that arise with warmer weather.
Cleanup costs have reached nearly $167 million, which should be relatively close to the final tally.
Tsakos Shipping and Trading SA, the Athens, Greece-based company that manages the tanker, has paid $125 million. The National Pollution Fund, funded by industry taxes, has paid $41.5 million, Coast Guard officials said.
The Unified Command was put together immediately after the spill from the Athos I, a Cyprus-flagged tanker that struck one or more submerged objects while moving into position to deliver Venezuelan crude to the CITGO asphalt refinery in West Deptford. The command structure system arose out of the 1989 Exxon Valdez disaster in Alaska, which was marked by delays caused by poor communications.
The command was made up of Coast Guard officials, Tsakos representatives, the general cleanup contractor, state environmental officials and the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration.
"Now what's in effect is the maintenance and monitoring plan," said Coast Guard Petty Officer John Edwards.
The Coast Guard was unable to say how much of the estimated 265,000 gallons that spilled has been collected. The spill is believed to be the fourth-worst on the Delaware River.
Maya K. van Rossum of the Delaware Riverkeeper Network downplayed the significance of the decision by the Unified Command to disband.
"The Unified Command did the work it set out to do, and if they think it's time to disband, that's fine," she said.
However, she was critical of the area's federal lawmakers, saying they have not done enough to push for long-term scientific monitoring of the spill's ecological and human health impacts.
She argues the Delaware River Protection Act, introduced by U.S. Rep. Frank A. LoBiondo, R-Ventnor, doesn't do enough to gauge the impacts of oil that can't be collected.
"There's oil out there now and there's going to be oil out there for decades to come," she said.
The tanker's hull sustained a gash and puncture after striking one or more submerged objects in the Mantua Creek anchorage adjacent to the asphalt plant.
Source: http://www.courierpostonline.com, Thursday, June 2, 2005, By LAWRENCE HAJNA Courier-Post Staff


Islamabad seeks $2bn damages for oil spill
---KARACHI: Pakistan is claiming a compensation of $2bn from the owners of Tasman Spirit, the oil tanker which ran aground off the coast of Karachi about two years ago, sources here said Tuesday.
The incident caused a spillage of about 31,000 tonnes of crude oil, devastating the marine life and ecosystem. Pakistan had never witnessed such a socio-economic disaster in its history, as revealed by speakers at a national symposium held here.
Ministers and high-ranking officials at the symposium expressed the view that Islamabad had got all reasons to present a claim to the owners and get that realized with the support of international organizations so that the long-term activities for the restoration of ecosystem could be launched at the earliest.
The forum on Natural Resource Damage Assessment Arising From Tasman Spirit Oil Spill has been organized jointly by the Pakistan Environmental Protection Agency, UNDP, National Institute of Oceanography and Sindh Environmental Protection Agency.
Copies of a summary report on works pertaining to the damage assessment carried out by local experts, with the resources made available under the UNDP supported National Environmental Action Plan (NEAP), were distributed among the delegates of the symposium.
Tasman Spirit, owned at that time by Palambros, was carrying about 67,500 tonnes of Iranian crude oil. The vessel had run aground on July 27, 2003 near the approach channel of Karachi harbour. 51 per cent of the oil it spilled into the sea was estimated to have sunk to the seabed till the first week of September.
Besides contaminating the marine area of about 2,062 sq km with petroleum hydrocarbons, the spill had exposed as many as 300,000 people to toxic petroleum aerosol plume.
Source: http://www.thepeninsulaqatar.com, Peninsula On-line, Qatar - May 31, 2005, Web posted at: 6/1/2005 2:43:30, Source ::: Internews


easyCruise heads towards Greek islands
---ATHENS (AFP) - The founder and chairman of cut-price service provider easyGroup, Stelios Haji-Ioannou, has begun talks with Greece's merchant marine ministry on bringing easyCruises to the Greek islands in the summer of 2006.
"Today we started talking to the ministry," Haji-Ioannou told a Foreign Press Association press conference on Monday night. "We're trying to access seven ports for summer 2006."
A sample cruise could start from the Athens port of Piraeus and include the islands of Mykonos, Patmos, Rhodes, the port-cities of Iraklio and Chania on Crete, and Milos, he said.
All destinations except Patmos can also be accessed by air, permitting customers to join the cruise at an intermediate point.
"The secret is that the boat spends the night in port, to enable young people to enjoy the city," Haji-Ioannou said.
This concept has enabled easyCruise to have an average passenger age of 35 on its existing Cote d'Azur package from St Tropez to Porto Fino, which launched this month with "very strong" bookings, he said.
The age equivalent across the rest of the cruise industry is 54, Haji-Ioannou said.
The easyGroup founder also revealed plans to take his existing cruise-boat, easyCruiseOne, to the Caribbean islands this winter.
Haji-Ioannou said he would travel to Barbados on June 16 to negotiate access to local ports. The deal could also include the French island of Martinique.
Cabin prices start from $53 per night, while suites go for $288, a charge that does not include meals.
Most of the cabins have a size of 10 square metres, are simply furnished with two beds and storage space, and have a bathroom with shower but no windows.
The son of a wealthy Greek-Cypriot shipowner, Stelios Haji-Ioannou was born and raised in Athens. He began his empire 10 years ago through the creation of no-frills flight operator easyJet, and has since expanded the "easy" brand to over 15 sectors including Internet cafes, hotels, cinemas, car and DVD rentals, men's toiletries and pizza delivery.
Source: http://www.usatoday.com, Posted 6/2/2005 8:42 AM