Greek Shipping News Cuts
Week 15 - 2010
---THE GREEK government has appointed Michalis Chrisohoidis as head of shipping within the ministry of economy, competitiveness and shipping.
Greek shipowners had been lobbying for months for the appointment of a dedicated head of merchant marine within the Louka Katseli-led ministry of economy, competitiveness and shipping, following the abolishment of the standalone ministry of shipping in October.
Chrisohoidis is known in Greece for cracking down on the November 17 terrorist group in 2002-3, during his stint as minister of public order.
Source: Fairplay Daily News 16 Apr 2010
More uncertainty as shipping's admin is set to again shift
---After months of uncertainty and ambiguity, it appears the Pasok government is to appoint one person to handle the administration of the massive Greek oceangoing fleet and the re-shaped Harbour Corps. Still the industry is far from happy with the developing structure.
Under legislation being prepared for publishing in the Government Gazette, responsiblity for oceangoing shipping is to be moved from the new super-ministry of Economy, Competiveness and Shipping to the expanding Citizens' Protection portfolio handled by Michalis Chrysochoidis.
Chrysochoidis has already assumed responsibility for the relevant services of the Harbour Corps following the break-up of the stand-alone Marine ministry. It seems Economy, Competitiveness [and Shipping], under minister Louka Katseli, will still oversee the department of Shipping which will be responsible for passenger shipping and the development of port policy, while administration of the country's unprofitable/subsidised passenger ship service will come under the domain of Infrastructure, Transport and Networks, run by minister Dimitris Reppas.
This double role of Chrysochoidis is already being seen as creating further problems to the smooth running of the country's ocean-going shipping industry, which had been lobbying for the reinstatement of the ministry of Mercantile Marine. Chrysochoidis has no shipping experience, though he is recognised as an enforcer of law and order, having dismantled the notorious '17th of November' terrorist organisation in 2003 when he was minister of Public Order, predecessor of the current Citizens Protection ministry.
Since her appointment as minister of Economy, Competiveness and Shipping, the shipping community led by the Union of Greek Shipowners (UGS) and Greek Shipping Co-operation Committee (GSCC) had maintained Louka Katseli has too much on her plate to oversee shipping matters, which are often extremely complicated.
This view has not changed and the feeling on the Akti Miaouli April 16 was that Chrysochoidis also has too much on his plate to deal with issues involving the key economic sector of shipping, especially in the international fora.
The government contends the unification of shipping with the Economy ministry, puts shipping at the epicentre of the country's economy. But, one leading member of the community told Newsfront shipping's role as the centre of the economy can only be strengthened by the industry having an autonomous presence.
-- Filed: 2010-04-16
TEN Tops the Charts - 17 years of profits!
---April 15, 2010. Nick Tsakos and Michael Jolliffe deserve to have some fun. They have earned it for themselves and their shareholders for their consistent performance during the past 17 years since TEN, in a slightly different stage of development, first listed on the Oslo Bors.
You will excuse us if a bit of editorial pride fills these lines because their launch back then coincided with Marine Money's early belief that good management would build real value for shareholders and themselves in concert with the capital markets and the public ones specifically.
A still young Nick Tsakos and Michael Jolliffe have proven the case. TEN could boast today at NY's venerable Metropolitan Club, a remarkable track record of profits, RoE (an average 17% per year if you joined them in 1993 and a whopping 23% if you joined them when they listed on the NYSE in 2002.)
Proud, as we are about their achievements, it is the future that was really exciting at the lunch. Their new foray into the drillship business, built off the back of their strong oil company relationships and equally respected shipyard relationships, combined with the smart re-use of bought back treasury shares and their ATM, all effectively reduced their costs in the project which will deliver a full payback in 4 years - well our grammar may be bad but the deal is amazing. Remember the average drillship cost is north of 600 million!
Frankly it is the kind of deal available only to a company with such commitments to their clients, well-known yards, financial backers and shareholders. This is the kind of deal we expect to see more of from team TEN.
Source: Freshly Minted, VOLUME 8, ISSUE 15
Remi behind nine resales to Navios
---An order booked back in 2007 has proved fruitful for US-listed Navios.
Remi Maritime, which is controlled by Spyros Polemis, current chairman of the International Chamber of Shipping (ICS), and his two children, Leonidas and Anna, has emerged as the seller of nine newbuilding contracts to Navios.
Navios announced late last week it was acquiring 13 ships and two options in a deal worth $457.7m (see story below).
Sources close to the deal confirm two 25,000-dwt chemical-tanker newbuildings bought by Navios were sold by Remi.
Dae Sun Shipbuilding & Engineering of South Korea will deliver the units in September and November of this year, with both ships costing Navios $28.7m each, according to the Navios announcement.
No price has been officially reported for the Remi order back in May 2007 but brokers estimate it was under $30m per ship.
Navios has also bought a further seven newbuilding contracts from Remi at Dae Sun as part of the same series. These contracts were originally for 25,000-dwt chemical tankers with deliveries set for 2011 and 2012, sources confirm.
However, Navios has converted them to 50,000-dwt medium-range-two (MR2) products tankers with delivery set for 2012.
The price has also been upped to $33.6m per ship for the first four and the remaining three are costing $32.9m each, according to Navios.
Brokers say Navios has achieved a good price as similar ships were being ordered in 2007 for well over $50m.
Commerzbank, Dresdner Bank and Deutsche Schiffsbank completed a merger earlier this year and the ship-lending operation of the combined bank now uses the Deutsche Schiffsbank label.
The private Greek owner no longer controls a chemical-tanker newbuilding portfolio but has eight ships currently trading.
Remi has suffered a number of problems in the past year.
It bought four 20,000-dwt chemical tankers under construction at Soli in early 2008 at $40m each. Two were delivered in late 2008 but trouble between the owner and the yard broke out after Remi failed to take delivery of the remaining two ships in early 2009.
After months of negotiations, Remi was reported to have reached an undisclosed cash settlement.
Remi also controls two supramax bulkers built in 2008 and 2009 and one newbuilding contract for a 177,000-dwt bulker at Jiangnan Changxing Shipyard in China with delivery slated for 2011.
Meanwhile, as part of the Navios deal, Hansa Hamburg Shipping has emerged as the seller of two 74,600-dwt products tankers (built 2007), the Colin Jacob and Ariadne Jacob. Both have been sold for $43.5m each.
The seller of two 74,000-dwt products tankers built at Sungdong Shipbuilding of South Korea, which Navios bought for $40m each, remains undisclosed. These units are slated for delivery in 2011. Navios holds options for another two sisterships at the yard with deliveries in 2012 with a price tag of $40.5m each.
By Yiota Gousas Athens
Published: 09:59 GMT, 16 Apr 10 | updated: 09:59 GMT, 16 Apr 10
Globus eyes US listing as Greek trio lose faith in London valuations
---By Nigel Lowry - Friday 16 April 2010
Globus, one of three Greece-based companies listed in London, emphasised that a move was not imminent and no decision had yet been taken to quit its present home on the Alternative Investment Market.
Mr Karageorgiou said that only after a listing in the US was decided and approved would the company address the question of whether it would retain its AIM listing.
Like compatriot companies Goldenport Holdings , which is listed on the big board, and AIM-listed Hellenic Carriers , Globus has seen its share price languishing well below net asset value levels for most of its time as a publicly traded company.
If a move goes ahead, it is understoothat the company will opt for a Nasdaq listing.
Owners appear to be taking stock of their share performance after a year or so of intense operational focus to ensure they weathered the crisis and positioned themselves to emerge in the best shape.
Fellow AIM-listed dry bulk company Hellenic Carriers is also known to be disappointed with its experience so far and is mulling alternative courses of action.
If this failed, Hellenic would look at other options, including the US.
But Ms Karamanlis also said that the company was aware that smaller shipping companies listed in the US could also trade at a steep discount to net asset values, and below bigger peers.
Meanwhile, after whittling down its fleet to two bulk carriers, Globus recently kick-started a reinvestment programme with the purchase of two supramax bulkers at a price of $32.8m each.
Currently there are only four mainstream shipowning and operating companies listed in London, the fourth being British shipowner James Fisher and Sons.
Star Bulk expanding fleet ; Current fleet is contracted for 92% of 2010
---Michael Roberts - 13.04.2010
Star Bulk Carriers Corp. (NASDAQ: SBLK), today announced that it has signed a contract with ship-builder Hanjin to build a second Capesize vessel of 180,000 deadweight tons, a sistership to the first vessel ordered, with expected delivery in November 2011.
The Company intends to finance both newbuildings through a combination of company cash and bank debt. Star Bulk has received offers for debt financing at favorable financing cost/terms. The Company has not yet decided the ratio of Company cash to bank debt that it will utilize.
Akis Tsirigakis, President and CEO of Star Bulk, commented: "We are pleased to continue our organic growth through another most competitive acquisition of a newbuilding Capesize vessel from a high quality ship builder. We are also pleased that our senior debt lenders continue to support our acquisition plans via offers of favorable financing terms.
Currently, our fleet is contracted for 92% of 2010 and 58% of 2011 operating days, amongst the highest contract coverage in the industry, providing future earnings visibility. We continue to focus on enhancing shareholder value, supported by our strong balance sheet and liquidity."
Star Bulk is a global shipping company providing worldwide seaborne transportation solutions in the dry bulk sector. Star Bulk's vessels transport major bulks, which include iron ore, coal and grain and minor bulks such as bauxite, fertilizers and steel products. Star Bulk was incorporated in the Marshall Islands on December 13, 2006 and maintains executive offices in Athens, Greece. Its common stock trades on the Nasdaq Global Market under the symbol "SBLK". Currently, Star Bulk has an operating fleet of eleven dry bulk carriers with definitive agreements to buy one and sell one Capesize vessel as well as to build two Capesize vessels. The total fleet consists of six Capesize, and eight Supramax dry bulk vessels with a combined cargo carrying capacity of 1,462,377 deadweight tons. The average age of our current operating fleet is 10.3 years. Source: Star Bulk
Greece faces EU court action over illegal aid to shipyards
---Wed, Apr 14 2010 14:55 CET
The European Commission said on April 14 2010 that it had decided to refer Greece to the European Court of Justice for not complying with a July 2008 Commission decision that found that state aid was unlawfully granted to Hellenic Shipyards (HSY) and should, therefore, have been recovered.
"The Commission allows member states to pay out large sums in state subsidies to business every year, but in those cases where the aid is found to be illegal it must be recovered swiftly to restore the level playing field and to preserve the credibility of the rules themselves," European Competition Commissioner Joaquin Almunia said.
"We have had to bring a number of cases of this type in recent years, notably against France, Italy and Austria. We need to make sure that member states make their best efforts to recover the money," he said.
On July 2 2008, the Commission decided that subsidies granted by Greece to Hellenic Shipyards S.A. were incompatible with the common market because they distort competition.
This was because Greece did not respect the conditions attached to the restructuring and closure aid approved by the Commission in its prior decisions of 1997 and 2002.
Moreover, various loans and guarantees provided by the Greek state and the then State-owned bank ETVA to Hellenic Shipyards constituted incompatible aid as they were provided either below market price or at a time when the financial situation of Hellenic Shipyards had become so difficult that it could not find bank financing, the Commission said.
All of these measures benefited the civil activities of HSY giving it an unfair advantage over its competitors, according to the Commission.
In fact, Hellenic Shipyards is involved in both civil and military activities, but in this decision, the Commission said that it had only examined aid which had exclusively benefited its civil activities because the subsidies that Hellenic Shipyards received for its military activities are exempted from EU state aid rules.
Therefore, HSY has to reimburse about 230 million euro of aid plus interest, from its civil activities. The interest is calculated, for each state aid measure, as from the date when the aid was granted.
The European Commission has been in discussions with the Greek authorities and Hellenic Shipyards since July 2008, concerning possible ways of implementing the decision, taking into account the company's financial difficulties.
"The objective is to ensure an effective implementation of the decision while respecting the national security interests of Greece and bearing in mind the company employees' best interests," the Commission said.
"But these efforts have been fruitless so far."
The Commission therefore had decided to refer Greece to the Court of Justice of the European Union, under Article 108(2) of the Treaty on the Functioning of the EU.
Member states have to recover State aid that had been declared incompatible by the Commission, within the deadline set out in the Commission decision.
This is very important because delays to the execution of recovery decisions undermine the effectiveness of the rules themselves and maintain the distortion of competition.
If a member state does not implement a recovery decision, the Commission may refer, the matter to the Court of Justice under Article 108(2) of the Treaty on the Functioning of the EU, seeking to have the member state condemned for violating EU law.
In the event that the member state does not comply with the first judgment of the Court of Justice, the Commission may refer the matter again to the Court of Justice under Article 260 of the Treaty on the Functioning of the EU, to request that lump sum penalty or daily penalties be imposed on the member state concerned until the aid is recovered or the State has demonstrated it has done all in its power to recover the money (in the case of a failing firm).
Shiprepair: Does the industry have a bright future or is survival the name of the game?
---By Dimitris Vranopoulos, Managing Director, Marine Plus SA
Monday, 12 April 2010 19:28
The answer differs depending on who you ask. Europeans, Chinese, Middle East, Black Sea yards all have different views on how much of a future their particular region, or more specifically their particular yard, have. I will concentrate mainly on China, where we have the most hands-on experience over the past 20 years.
The Chinese yards have become the global darlings of repair over the past 10-15 years. They have a lot of things working in their favour:
Quality: The larger, more established state and private yards have accredited quality assurance systems in place. In addition, they have quality departments that are usually independent of production and report directly to senior management. There is still room for improvement here, but China now boasts of at least 10 major shiprepair yards that provide a quality service and product.
Location: When a vessel is due for drydocking (normally twice in a 5-year cycle) the location of the last discharge port is important (ideally owners want the vessel to drydock in the last port of discharge to secure zero deviation cost). As China ports are now very busy importing cargoes of raw materials / steel products, most dry bulkers will open F. East region or at least can fix a cargoe that will discharge China region (in case it is known that vessel has extensive repairs owner will in many cases opt to open China to repair locally). In addition, more tankers and gas carriers are also opening China / F East region.
Prior to Tuzla, the Black Sea was favourite for large repair jobs for vessels trading in Med / Black Sea. This trend has decreased, and Romania / Bulgaria now face lack of skilled labor due to emigration of such skills to other EU based countries. Pricing has become more competitive since 2008, with the return of the USD to most yards. Duration is slower than Greece / Turkey, quality is acceptable and safety standards in the larger yards is getting better.
For the main local yards, pricing is comparable to Europe, but owners still sometimes prefer to dock vessels in Greece for better monitoring of repairs on Greek soil, as well as tapping into the vast experience of workshops in the Perama zone. Time is also shorter than Back Sea / Turkey, an important issue when the freight market is above average or high. Quality and safety are comparable to Europe / MEG. Regrettably both the politically motivated Trade Unions as well as the Government have had a negative impact on the Greek ship repair industry. The former thrive on confrontation and disruptions by instigation of adhoc strikes, the latter creating hindrances to the smooth operation of the Perama Zone.
Costas Lyboussakis - The success story of a self made tug owner
20 years after his first interview to ELNAVI
He was firstly involved in the towage sector at the age of 15 and he entered in the business as a shipowner in 1986 setting up Lyboussakis Salvage & Towage. He gave his first interview to ELNAVI in 1991 claiming that the tug vessels are the spirit and the soul of the port.
Mr. Lyboussakis still believes that tugs are the spirit and the soul of the port in any market condition. In these days, tugs operate in a more demanding environment and they have become more powerful and flexible.
Source: http://www.elnavi.gr/index.php, ELNAVI Magazine, issue March 2010, page 14
New tax regime for international maritime transport companies receives EU approval
Contributed by Andreas Neocleous & Co LLC. April 14 2010.
The government's proposal to reduce the tax burden on companies that engage in international maritime transport through the introduction of a special tax regime has received approval from the European Commission.
Cyprus already imposes a reduced tax rate on shipping activities. The new tax regime will allow companies that engage in international maritime transport to opt for a tax calculated on the net tonnage of the fleet that they operate (tonnage tax), rather than being taxed on the actual profits of their maritime transport activities. The tonnage tax scheme will also apply, under certain conditions, to tugboats, dredgers and cable-layers.
The European Commission found that the scheme complies with EU guidelines on state aid to maritime transport, and that adequate safeguards have been put in place to avoid abuse of the scheme for tax evasion or spill over of the scheme's benefits to non-shipping activities. The commission has authorized the scheme until December 31 2019.
The Cyprus maritime industry is one of the largest in the European Union and the 10th largest worldwide. Cyprus is also the biggest third-party ship management centre in the European Union.
For further information on this topic please contact Elias A Neocleous at Andreas Neocleous & Co LLC by telephone (+357 25 110 000), fax (+357 25 110 001) or email ([email protected]).
Shipping Investment & Asset Management Forum, University of Piraeus, 22.04.2010
Contact: Dionysios Polemis, Office: 210- 4142528, mob: 693 2 219935, <[email protected]>
Lloyd's List 7th Greek Shipping & Ship Finance Conference 2010
---This year's 7th Greek Shipping & Ship Finance Conference will take place at the Athenaeum InterContinental Hotel, Athens on Wednesday 12th & Thursday 13th May. Supported by Lloyd's List this leading industry event is an essential date for your professional diary!
Greek shipping's premier shipping and ship finance event brings together leading players from Greece as well as industry specialists from overseas. Under the Chairmanship of Mr. Yannis Triphyllis, Director, Gourdomichalis Maritime, this 7th event promises a first class opportunity to examine and discuss the most important issues affecting Greek shipping today.
This Lloyd's List conference features the following programme sessions:
Setting the Scene: the outlook of Greece as a shipping nation and world economic outlook and prospects for seaborne trade.
Prospects & Challenges for Tanker, LNG & LPG, Container and Dry Bulk Markets.
Raising Capital: Where Next? Presentations looking at ship and shipping values, how shipping has performed in the capital markets and whether 2010 will support a new spate of IPOs.
Banks & Beyond: Will the Finance be There? Chinese ship finance opportunities and alternative sources of finance plus presentations looking at what to expect from the banks in 2010 and 2011 and how bankers are re examining their risks in today's climate.
ALSO - Industry Panel Discussions debating raising capital in today's tight credit market and emerging from the crisis: the next phase.
PLUS! How to Navigate Today's Tough Financial & Shipping Climate - workshop led by Clyde & Co. LLP on Tuesday 11th May. Informal and interactive sessions examining Owners & Banks: When Relationships Hit Troubled Waters; Forward Commitments under Newbuilding Contacts and Memoranda of Agreements; Owners & Charterers: When Relationship Counselling is Needed; Sink or Swim: Insolvency Issues; case study session - Successfully Navigating the "Perfect Storm".