Greek Shipping News Cuts
Week 28 - 2006
14 Jul 2006, ANA, NIKOS ROUSSANOGLOU
---Shipping-related foreign companies are increasingly setting up offices in Athens and especially Piraeus, a sign that Greek-owned ocean shipping is strengthening its position in the global industry.
Today, about 80 percent of the business of Greek-registered shipping is conducted from Piraeus.
The number of Greek shipowners registering their merchant ships in this small Caribbean tax haven has risen 28 percent in the last three years but it remains small. In contrast, the registration of leisure boats has doubled in the last three months alone. In total, the Cayman Islands register has about 300 merchant ships and 1.300 leisure boats, representing 3.2 million tons.
Greece is also attracting large foreign chartering firms. One such firm is US-based Charles R. Weber of Vassilis Mavroleon, which is expected to open its new offices in Piraeus soon. Mavroleon is a descendant of a shipping family with roots on the island of Kassos.
Charles R. Weber, also in partnership with US firm Compass Maritime, plans to set up WeberCompass Hellas in Piraeus.
The new company will transfer staff from the US and also employ locals.
Deputy FM discusses cooperation in shipping, trade during visit to Brazil
---14 July 2006, BRASILIA (ANA-MPA N. Melissova) -- Visiting Brazil on Thursday, Greece's Deputy Foreign Minister Evripidis Stylianidis held talks with local officials on the prospects for bilateral cooperation in the shipping sector, alternative energy sources and the export of agricultural goods.
Stylianidis is visiting Brasilia as part of a tour of Latin American countries that also included a stop in Argentina's Buenos Aires. On Friday, the minister is also scheduled to attend the opening session of the Ecological Symposium sponsored by Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew I in Manaus, on the shores of the Amazon River, which is being funded by the Greek foreign ministry organisation Hellenic Aid.
The Symposium, which will draw internationally renowned scientists, politicians and journalists will be officially opened by the Patriarch, while Stylianidis will represent the Greek government.
In talks on Thursday with Brazilian deputy foreign minister Samuel Pinheiro Guimaraes and Brazilian Development Minister Luiz Fernando Furlan, the Greek minister said his visit fulfilled the promise given by Prime Minister Costas Karamanlis in Vienna to cement ties with Latin American countries, noting that Greek economic diplomacy in the area will officially begin half-way into 2007.
The two sides made arrangements for a Greece-Brazil joint ministerial meeting to pinpoint areas of mutual interest for cooperation, to be followed by a business conference in which "market forces will take over after the state has prepared the way".
Stylianidis conveyed Greece's interest in the use of the Greek commercial fleet for the transportation of Brazilian and Argentinian exports, in the purchase of ports and shipyards and mining concerns.
Regarding alternative energy sources, the two delegations agreed on an exchange of knowhow, since Greece is ahead in solar technology while Latin American countries have made greater strides in bio-fuels, while they also discussed the prospects of oil purchases from Brazil that is now starting to export oil
With Argentina, which is a producer of oil and natural gas, the Greek minister discussed the transport of natural gas using Greek ships.
Talking to reporters after the meetings, Stylianidis said that Greek diplomacy was extremely interested in establishing ties with Brazil since it is one of the most powerful Latin American countries and a member of the local economic union Mercosur, while it is regarding as a 'gateway' for trade with other South American countries in the interior.
The Greek minister also highlighted the role of Brazil's thriving Greek community in the efforts to establish ties.
Caption: Greece's deputy foreign minister (L) and Brazil's Foreign Affairs and Defence Committee chairman Alceu de Deus Collares, during their meeting at the Brazilian foreign ministry in Brasilia. (ANA-MPA/N. Kotsiaris)
Greeks splash $12bn in six months renewing fleet
---Greeks invested a staggering $12bn in the first six months of 2006 renewing their fleets. Some $6.7bn of this has gone into newbuilding projects and just over $5bn has been spent buying ships in the secondhand market.
This massive spending spree has seen the Greeks powering both the newbuilding and s&p markets so far this year.
By comparison in first half 2005, there were 62 orders, 24 tankers of all types,11 bulk carriers, 17 LPGs and eight container ships (25,458teu) of around 2m dwt representing an investment of $2.7bn. Allied Shipbroking of Piraeus calculate that in the first half of this year, in total 674 ships were sold for $14.9bn, as compared with 640 vessels that raised $15.7bn in the same period of 2005.
Greek interests spent just over $5bn to buy around 173 vessels of 11.5m dwt in the first half of 2006. Average age of the purchases was 10 years. Thus Greeks were involved in over a fifth of all s&p deals and purchased some 30% of the dwt to change hands. The total investment represents some 27.2% of the overall figure.
While tankers account for the lion's share of the newbuildings the preference switched to bulkers, in the s&p ring. Moundreas says the ordering of tankers reflects the general feeling that tankers have a bright future and, to a lesser extent, to the reluctance of shipbuilders to take contracts for bulkers.
"The freights and prices of bulk carriers are firming [up] and buyers of tankers are eagerly in search of competitive tonnage to acquire in an effort to match the activity levels that their dry counterparts enjoy," Allied said.
Listed companies controlled by Greek interests are to the fore on the buying side. Sale of 17 bulkers by Metrostar Management to Nasdaq-listed Quintana Maritime, was worth $735m; New York-listed TEN took nine tankers and newbuildings from Western Petroleum for $530m; and Nasdaq-listed Omega Navigation spent $357.5m for two ice-class medium-range (MR) products tankers and four panamax long-range one (LR1) products tankers.
Source: www.newsfront.gr, 14 July 2006 Vol. 7 / No. 27
Owners get more value for money
---A Piraeus broking shop's analysis shows weaker ship prices for the first half of the year.
Sale-and-purchase (S&P) deals in the first half of this year clearly reflected the somewhat weaker freight rates and ship values during the early months, with more tonnage, both wet and dry, changing hands but less money being spent on them.
Allied Shipbroking of Piraeus has calculated that in the first half of this year, 674 bulkers and tankers were sold for a total of $14.9bn, as compared with 640 vessels that raised $15.7bn in the same period of 2005.
This year, owners showed a preference for bulkers, spending $6.7bn on 414 vessels, compared to $8.2bn on 260 tankers. In the first half of last year, they bought 360 bulkers for $7bn and 280 tankers for $8.7bn, according to Allied.
The panamax index rose by a healthy 25.72% in the first six months, with the supramax index gaining close to 22% and the capesize index gaining 15.43%, and brokers note that the rally iscontinuing.
"The freights and prices of bulk carriers are firming [up]and buyers of tankers are eagerly in search of competitive tonnage to acquire in an effort to match the activity levels that their dry counterparts enjoy," Allied said.
The number of ships of all types sold in the half year totalled 817, aggregating 38.3 million dwt and costing $18.4m, according to Allied's figures.
The Greek shipping community is continuing its strong presence in the S&P markets. TradeWinds calculates that, accounting for the usual margins of error for off-market transactions or deals that have been reported but failed to materialise, Greek interests spent just over $5bn to buy around 173 vessels of 11.5 million dwt in the first half of 2006.
Compared with Allied's overall figures, this would indicate that they snapped up 21.2% of the number of ships but the much higher percentage of 30% of dwt. The total investment represents some 27.2% of the overall figure.
If the momentum is sustained in the second half, 2006 could well prove to be a record year for Greek buying.
For the whole of 2005, TradeWinds calculated that Greeks purchased 290 ships of more than 19 million dwt for some $8.2bn.
Listed companies controlled by Greek interests are still powering the buying side. The largest deal, the sale of 17 bulkers from Metrostar Management to Nasdaq-listed Quintana Maritime, was alone worth $735m. Tsakos Energy Navigation (TEN) was in close pursuit, buying nine tankers and newbuildings from Western Petroleum at $530m, and other Greek-listed companies have also continued their buying patterns, if more conservatively.
Newcomer to listed status Omega Navigation Enterprises shelled out $357.5m for two ice-class medium-range (MR) products tankers and four panamax long-range one (LR1) products tankers. DryShips acquired another two bulkers for a total of $76.26m, while Stealthgas has kept up its relentless fleet expansion,buying six LPG carriers in the first half for a total of almost $67m. Diana Shipping bought just one panamax bulker for $39.6m.
Privately owned companies were more modest spenders, with relatively few making multiple buys. Indicatively, the Restis group bought three panamax bulkers and one supramax for $123m en bloc, Centrofin splashed out $118m on one tanker and two bulkers, while Magna Marine and Sea Justice paid out over $100m each for three bulkers.
The jury may still be out on where prices are going and Allied queries what the current market might be hiding up its sleeve. But one thing is for sure, it said: "We will be granted a lot of surprises."
By Gillian Whittaker Athens, published: 14 July 2006
LPG carrier crew injured in blaze
Source: Fairplay Daily News 14 Jul 2006
Eurocorp Assigns 'Add' for Attica Group Share
Thereafter, thanks to an improving free cash flow generation, Eurocorp sees further reduction in net debt.
Aries Maritime Announces Time Charter for Bora and Update on Citius
---ATHENS, Greece, July 14 /PRNewswire-FirstCall/ -- Aries Maritime Transport Limited (Nasdaq: RAMS - News) today announced that it has entered into a one-and-a-half year time charter agreement with FR8 PTE, an established freight logistics company, for the Bora, a 2000-built double-hull products tanker, at a rate of $17,050 per day. The time charter, which is expected to commence on July 15, 2006, includes a profit sharing component with a 50 percent share for Aries based on the actual trading of the vessel.
The Company also announced that the Citius, a 1986-built double-hull products tanker, is expected to complete drydock works, which include general overhauls originally scheduled for 2007 and unforeseen repairs to the rudder as well as preventative maintenance, during the week of July 24, 2006. Following the completion of this work, the Company anticipates that up to an additional ten days will be required to conclude the cleaning, painting, testing, inspection and certification of the vessel. Aries expects the overall work on the Citius to total between $8.5 and $9 million.
Expected Dividend Declaration and Second Quarter Conference Call
The Company announced that it expects to declare a dividend for the second quarter ended June 30, 2006 on August 7, 2006. The Company also announced that it will hold a conference call on August 14, 2006 at 10:00 a.m. Eastern Time to discuss earnings for the second quarter. To access the conference call domestically, dial 800-811-8824 and use the reservation number 3355140; for international access dial 913-981-4903 and use the reservation number 3355140. Following the teleconference, a replay of the call may be accessed domestically by dialing 888-203-1112 or internationally by dialing 719-457-0820 and entering the reservation number 3355140. The replay will be available from August 14, 2006 to August 28, 2006. The conference call will also be webcast live on the Company's website: http://www.ariesmaritime.com. A replay of the webcast will be available immediately following the call through August 28, 2006.
Quintana Maritime Announces Special Shareholder Meeting
---ATHENS, GREECE -- (MARKET WIRE) -- July 12, 2006 -- Quintana Maritime Limited (NASDAQ: QMAR) announced today that it will hold a Special Meeting of Stockholders on August 11, 2006, at 9:00 a.m. local time, at the Sheraton Suites Calgary Eau Claire in Calgary, Alberta, Canada. Shareholders of record on July 7, 2006 are eligible to participate and vote on the meeting's agenda.
On May 3, 2006, Quintana Maritime Limited entered into separate sale and purchase contracts with affiliates of Metrobulk Holding S.A., an unaffiliated third party, to purchase three Panamax drybulk carriers and fourteen Kamsarmax drybulk carriers for the aggregate cash purchase price of $735 million. In connection with the financing of this acquisition, on May 11, 2006, the Company completed a private placement of 2,045,558 units (the "Units") consisting of 2,045,558 shares of 12% Mandatorily Convertible Preferred Stock (the "Preferred Stock") that have a liquidation preference of $93.75 per share and 8,182,232 Class A Warrants (the "Warrants") to purchase the Company's common stock. Each unit sold in the Private Placement consists of one share of Preferred Stock and four Warrants. The gross proceeds of the sale of the Units were approximately $191 million to the Company, before fees and expenses.
The purpose of the Special Meeting of Shareholders is to vote on the conversion of the Preferred Stock into shares of the Company's common stock, the exercisability of the Warrants to purchase shares of the Company's common stock, and the issuance of shares of the Company's common stock upon the conversion of the Preferred Stock and the exercise of the Warrants. Upon the conversion of the Preferred Stock, the Company will have approximately 49,717,717 shares of common stock outstanding.
The Company's founders, which are affiliates of Corbin J. Robertson, Jr., First Reserve Corporation, and AMCI International, Inc., together with certain of the Company's directors and senior management have committed to vote in favor of the conversion, representing an aggregate of 30% of the Company's common stock outstanding and entitled to vote at the special meeting.
The notice of meeting and proxy statement for detailed information on the proposal to be considered at the Special Meeting has been filed with the Securities and Exchange Commission and can be accessed on the SEC's website at www.sec.gov or through the Company's website at www.quintanamaritime.com at the Investor Relations Section, SEC Filings.
Anti-trust costs hit Stolt-Nielsen again LEGAL costs associated with anti-trust investigations continued to hit parcel tanker operator Stolt-Nielsen Q2 but the company still increased operating revenue, on a like-for-like basis from US$367.8m, in Q2 last year, to US$391.7 million for the quarter.
He adds: "Our outlook remains unchanged. In our parcel tanker operations, the market fundamentals remain positive, though we continue to expect some volatility due to shifting trade patterns, new tonnage entering the market, and the impact of new IMO regulations. Our tank container business is expected to continue to post good results. And we are actively growing our terminal operations, as evidenced by investments this year in Tianjin, China and Antwerp, Belgium."
Source: www.mgn.com, 10-Jul-06
---Spain has failed to get a New York judge to compel ABS to release financial records of its executive retirement plan. However, a management shake-up at ABS after the apparent suicide of its chief financial officer has thrown the spotlight back on the class society. Does the Prestige fit into all this? Rajesh Joshi sifts through the facts- Tuesday July 11 2006
Mr Somerville reveals that to his knowledge at least five other ABS executives were entitled to retirement plan payments, of whom four had already cashed out their retirement plan payments after they turned 62.
This quartet includes Frank Iarossi, former chairman and chief executive who was at the helm when the Prestige casualty took place, Admiral Robert Kramek, who is to retire as president and chief operating officer at the end of the year, Vincent Roth, who is also to retire as senior vice president and chief of staff in December, and Donald Liu, the former executive vice-president and chief technology officer.
Robert Bauerle, chief financial officer, was the sixth man including Mr Somerville on the list of retirement plan recipients but was not 62 and therefore had not received his payout.
According to the Houston Chronicle newspaper, Mr Bauerle died in a car crash in May after apparently being missing for a week.
In effect, therefore, almost every retirement plan beneficiary who was in ABS top management when the Prestige calamity rocked the society is now retired, close to retiring or dead.
The chilling result of this strategic shift, Spain alleges, is a fateful under-investment in critical manpower.
The Prestige tragedy is directly a function of ABS management opting for the former at the expense of the latter, Spain alleges.
ABS did not respond to a request for comment on the allegations.
Furthermore, in a creative legal manoeuvre that has caught the attention of legal experts, ABS is invoking the Civil Liability Convention in demanding that the only forum for litigation ought to be Spain, and that ABS itself should be allowed to avail itself of convention limits as a shipowner would.
Spain, for its part, has demanded a trial. If it happens, it will take at least until the summer of next year to begin.