Greek Shipping News Cuts
Week 18 - 2004
---Almost three decades after the death of Aristotle Onassis, Greek shipping has entered a new golden age, bringing Ferraris and diamonds to the country's shipping dynasties.
From the exalted fleet owners at the top to the engine-room boys at the bottom, Greece's most celebrated industry has never had it so good.
Unprecedented demand for the nation's ships has produced a new generation of Greeks out to make their fortunes on the high seas.
Though the fleets of Onassis and Niarchos are sailing into the sunset, their taste for the finer things in life has endured.
"Anyone with tonnage is making money, and this is a huge flash-money culture," said one analyst. "The owners are all out buying Porsches and Ferraris. Come to any industry party and count the diamonds."
One of the new breed is Harry Vafias, rarely away from the society pages, living what a shipping insider called "a fast cars, big parties, beautiful women life".
Mr Vafias is not bashful about his business perks. He began a recent magazine column on the industry by writing: "Now that everyone is happy and most importantly rich, let's take our monthly tour around paradise."
Other young owners, such as Dmitris Papadimitriou, have spent their money on property.
Mr Papadimitriou, with more than two million tons of shipping to his name, has the builders in, re-doing the peninsula he owns on the Aegean island of Schinoussa. He is rumoured to be interested in acquiring the island of Ofidoussa just opposite.
Throughout the industry, one explanation is given for the boom times: China.
"Greek shipping is having a golden age which we have never seen before," said Petros Aivazidis of the Hellenic Chamber of Shipping. "It's a huge boom brought on by development in China.
"Rates now are five times what they were a couple of years ago. People are paying hundreds of thousands of dollars a day for ships."
The shipping industry has become a weathervane for the extraordinary development of the Chinese economy. In ports along the Chinese coastline, vessels from half way around the world deliver huge cargoes of raw materials to fuel the country's growth.
Though many cargoes come from as far afield as South America, the ships that carry them are - as often as not - from Greece, the world's biggest shipowning nation.
"During my 25-year career I've never seen a market like this," said Manolis Fotiadis-Negroponte of Cyprus Shipping, Greece's 15th-biggest fleet.
"China is importing vast quantities of iron ore and coal. And, of course, there are strong exports going the other way too."
The dramatic upsurge in Greece's shipping industry over the past couple of years has seen much needed cash flow into the indebted local economy. It represents almost three per cent of the gross domestic produce.
But it has also lined the pockets of the new generation of wealthy owners, whose only concern now is when the bubble might burst.
Well dressed and internationally educated, they are a far cry from the weatherbeaten skippers turned entrepreneurs of years ago.
"There is a generation of 20- and 30-somethings now who are very different to the back-of-a-fag-packet calculating founding fathers," said Tim Barraclough, from Clarkson's shipbrokers.
"Turnover is such that prudent Greek ship owners, who once bought vessels only when the market was low, are now clamouring to add to their fleets and cash in still further.
"Ship values are now very high," said Mr Aivazidis. "But still Greeks are trying to buy any ship because they don't want to miss out.
"Demand now means that new ships won't be delivered for five to six years. Every yard in the world is full."
The market could crash if too many ships are built but analysts predict that there will be no slump for some time. Meanwhile, as with all booms, everyone in Greek shipping is dreaming that the good times will last forever.
As Mr Aivazidis said: "It just keeps getting better and better."
Source: www.telegraph.co.uk, Harry de Quetteville in Piraeus, (Filed: 30/04/2004)
PNO calls for creation of body to protect seafarers's rights
---The Panhellenic Seamen's Federation (PNO) has called for the establishment of an international body to protect the rights of seafarers against the trend to criminalise them in incidents connected to shipping. Calling on Imo and the International Labour Organisation (ILO) to take the lead, the PNO says the aim of the body would be the protection of the seafaring profession and the dignity of those employed in it against governments who take "unacceptable" actions against seafarers.
Expressing great satisfaction at the freeing of the 'Karachi eight' "whose detention was unacceptable", the PNO demanded the immediate lifting by Spain of the detention of Prestige master, Apostolos Magouras. "The trend to criminalise seafarers is unacceptable", said the PNO.
It condemned governments which "hold seafarers hostage for financial reasons", as in the case of the Tasman Spirit and the Prestige. A statement signed by PNO secretary general, John Halas, notes this action by governments is having a very negative impact at a time "when there are intense efforts to attract people into the seafarering profession".
The PNO's comments follow a call from India urging the drafting of an international convention to protect the interests of seafarers and officers charged with offences on foreign soil or in international waters. The move comes as the trial of the crew of Erika, captained by Indian Karun Mathur, approaches.
Matters relating to the arrest of shipmasters and crew and placing them in jail for offences connected with shipping are currently not covered under any international convention and India's directorate general of shipping has taken up the cause.
Source: www.newsfront, 30 Apr 04
Compensation to Tasman Spirit victims soon: Ghauri
---ISLAMABAD: Minister for Communication Babar Khan Ghauri has said he expected an early compensation to the victims of oil spill from Tasman Spirit last year.
In his meetings with the P and I Club members in London, Ghauri hoped for a positive conclusion and rederessal of damages caused by oil spill from Tasman Spirit at Karachi port after the ship had broken.
Representatives of the Pakistan government and the insurance group, P and I Club, discussed the compensation issue for the victims of the spill from the Greek oil tanker in September last year that caused colossal environment damages and deprived scores of fishermen of their jobs.
The minister led a six-member delegation for talks with P and I Club at the first ever meeting between the two sides. The Pakistan side forcefully pleaded the case for compensation and convinced the P and I Club members to pay for the damages caused by oil spill.
The P and I Club and representatives of other companies promised to give compensation to the victims after settlement of the details after more talks among the stakeholders. "Our efforts are to make up for the losses as soon as possible," Ghauri said and hoped that the compensation issue would be settled soon.
He said the meeting with the Secretary General of International Maritime Organisation (IMO) was very useful. IMO official also assured the minister that the organisation would help Pakistan upgrade its Marine Academy by providing latest equipment in order to avoid such incidents in future.
MNA Dr Farooq Sattar, who heads a high-powered Tasman Spirit Affair Committee to prepare suggestions to resolve the compensation issue, said the meeting concluded that the compensation issues should be resolved on humanitarian basis, as immense environmental pollution was caused by the oil spill.
It was also agreed that international laws should not be strictly applied to case of Tasman Spirit as oil spill from this tanker affected the common man as well as vendors, fishermen, businessmen and residents along the coastline.
Dr Farooq Sattar said that Islamabad secured a moral edge when it decided to release the eight members crew of Tasman Spirit that created a lot of goodwill for its case for compensation. He said the stockholders were expected to hold another meeting in Karachi within two months, where representatives of P and I Club and other companies concerned would visit the incident site.
Source: http://jang.com.pk, 1 May 04
Hellespont boss pledges a return
---Greek owner Basil Papachristidis has scored big with the sale of his ULCC quartet.
Basil Papachristidis is promising that Hellespont Shipping will make a comeback after selling his jointly owned fleet of four high-grade ULCCs to Belgium's Euronav for a massive profit.
Speaking exclusively to TradeWinds, Papachristidis, who heads up Piraeus-based Hellespont Shipping, says that the company has twice previously been in a similar position and returned and will do so again.
He is already off the mark with his KG-financed purchase of the 105,000-dwt tanker Hellespont Tatina (built 1999), named after his daughter, under a five-year charter deal with Japan's Sanko.
Brokers who know Papachristidis well believe he will pursue similar KG-tanker deals and could even break into the dry-bulk business.
Papachristidis is not prepared to go into detail at this stage but he said: "The Hellespont group intends to remain in shipping. We cannot be more specific for now about future plans but these will be undertaken after careful consideration of the alternatives."
He added: "This is not the first time in its 58-year history the group has sold most of its ship. It happened in 1953 and again in 1972."
He says Piraeus-based Hellespont Steamship Corp and Seatramp Tankers will remain intact as will Manila-based Manila Shipmanagement and Manning Inc.
Papachristidis explained: "Although many seafarers will inevitably be lost to other companies, the intention is to keep as many as possible and, generally, to stay in close contact with its long-serving seafaring staff with a view to being able to engage them again as and when it increases its fleet in the future."
Hellespont and its joint partner the Loews Corp made a small fortune in selling the ULCCs to Euronav.
Each of the high-specification ships was ordered for about $90m and sold for $112m, after raking in profits for more than a year in the booming tanker market.
Papachristidis took personal pride in the ships and built them to a high-specification design at Daewoo in Korea. Despite his strong belief in the ships the Euronav deal was described as "too good to resist".
While counting up the millions Papachristidis may also reflect with some irony that he was ridiculed for ordering the 442,000-dwt tankers at a time when brokers said the age of the ULCC had passed.
His ships were once, as it turns out, unfairly vilified as "white elephants".
Euronav purchased the ships with unidentified partners. It says it intends to operate them in the Tankers International Pool.
The four ULCCs are the Hellespont Alhambra, Hellespont Tara, Hellespont Fairfax and Hellespont Metropolis (all built between 2002 and 2003). They will be renamed TI Asia, TI Europe, TI America and TI Africa and be flagged in Belgium.
Source: www.tradewinds.no, Adam Corbett London, published: 30 April 2004
Peter G on CNBC: the people speak out
---Further cementing the increasingly high profile presence of shipping on Wall Street these days, Peter G made an appearance on CNBC's Wake-Up Call at 6:35am. I watched the interview with about 15 people at Dunkin Donuts, all of whom were impressed.
GMR CLEANS UP SHEET, DRIVES DOWN DEBT MARGINS 50 BPS
In his first financing as interim CFO, John Georgiopoulos helped General Maritime close a very favorable refinancing this week. Genmar secured a commitment for an $825 million senior secured bank facility with Nordea acting as lead arranger. The credit facility consists of a term loan of $225 million and a revolving loan component of $600 million.
THE BANK LOAN THAT'S REALLY A 5% BOND
The term loan has a five-year maturity at a rate of LIBOR plus 1.0% and amortizes on a quarterly basis with 19 payments of $10 million and 1 payment of $35 million. The revolving loan component, which does not amortize and is therefore like a bond, has a five year maturity at a rate of LIBOR plus 1.0% on the used portion and a 0.5% commitment fee on the unused portion. Upon closing of the financing, which is expected to occur by mid June 2004, the company's existing $300, $165 and $275 million credit facilities will be retired. Outstanding borrowings under these existing credit facilities are $361 million as of March 31, 2004.
The $825 million senior secured bank facility will be secured by all of the vessels in the company's 47-vessel fleet after giving effect to the Soponata acquisition. Upon completion of the refinancing and acquisition, the company expects to have in excess of $300 million in liquidity. Nordea who is the sole lead arranger, sole book runner and sole administrative agent started inviting participants today.
GENMAR REPORTS RECORD FIRST QUARTER EARNINGS
Genmar reported first quarter 2004 earnings of $78.4 million or $2.08 diluted earnings per share. This compares to $34.4 million and $0.92 EPS during the corresponding quarter last year. The increase is of course attributed to the strong rate environment and to the increase in the number of vessels in the Genmar fleet. Genmar now leads the field in Marine Money's total returns rankings for this quarter. We are still waiting for a few more earnings reports to be released to compile the table for the tanker sector.
Source: Freshly Minted, www.marinemoney.com, 29 Apr 04
Hanjin Heavy Wins Major Contract
---Hanjin Heavy Industries & Construction said on Friday that it has received $370 million worth of orders from two Greek firms to build container ships.
Under the contracts, Hanjin will build four 5,100-TEU (20-foot equivalent unit) container ships worth $270 million for Niki Shipping Co. and two 3,400-TEU ships for Schoeller Holdings Ltd.
The ships will be delivered to the Greek companies between December 2006 and July 2007, Hanjin said.
The orders account for almost half the shipbuilder's target of $800 million for 2004.
A Hanjin official said the company is trying to tap new overseas markets and diversify its customer base.
Source: http://times.hankooki.com, 30 Apr 04
ECSI announces strategic alliance with Radio Holland Greece
---Electronic Control Security, Inc. a leading provider of electronic security systems to governments and corporations, today announced it has entered into a strategic alliance with the Radio Holland Greece (SRH Marine) Division of the Radio Holland Group, an international organization specializing in communication, satellite navigational safety-distress and ship automation equipment, installation, integration and support services worldwide.
Radio Holland Greece (SRH Marine) specializes in electronic systems for the shipping industry including command centers, radar, sonar, security, and ports. Radio Holland Greece has many government and corporate customers, ranging from military vessels to oil tankers. ECSI's security solutions include the Omni directional video detection and tracking system, which can be installed in ports, on battleships, and vessels needing perimeter security and monitoring to maintain and secure defined areas. It is expected that through this alliance ECSI will expand its sales and service to all areas of Greece and Cyprus including the Greek Isles. Radio Holland Greece will work ECSI in the complex and time-sensitive integration of system projects in Greece and Cyprus in order to meet naval requirements and scheduling.
Arthur Barchenko Chairman of ECSI states, "We are very pleased to work with Radio Holland Greece. This alliance gives us the ability to offer our security solutions to government and corporate clients in Greece and Cyprus to protect their ports, cargo, and military vessels. Our security solutions protect defined areas from intrusion and invasion and are a natural for maritime industries. This alliance will enable us to effectively address many government and industrial projects without adding a layer of cost. It is our strategic goal to help protect governments and industries worldwide."
About Radio Holland Greece (SRH Marine Electronics S.A.)
Radio Holland Greece was formed in 1957 and has developed a strong presence in the shipping, military and industrial sectors in Greece. During the following years the company expanded its installation and support for the shipping industry to include engineering, construction and maintenance with diversified operations now to include security solutions. For more information on Radio Holland Group go to www.radiohollandgroup.com
ECSI is recognized as a global leader in perimeter security and an effective quality provider for both the Department of Defense and Homeland Security programs. The company designs, manufactures and markets physical electronic security systems for high profile, high-threat environments. The employment of risk assessment and analysis allows ECSI to determine and address the security needs of government and commercial-industrial installations. ECSI's corporate office is located at 790 Bloomfield Avenue, Bldg. C-1, Clifton, NJ 07012. Tel: 973-574-8555; Fax: 973-574-8562; for more information on ECSI and its customers please go to www.anti-terrorism.com
Certain statements included in this press release are forward-looking statements within the meaning of the Private Securities Litigation Reform Act of 1995. Actual results could differ materially from such statements expressed or implied as the result of a variety of factors, of which a number could be potentially beyond the Company's control. The Company's actual results and events will be expressed from time to time in the Company's periodic filings with the Securities and Exchange Commission (the "SEC"). As a result, this press release should be read in conjunction with the Company's periodic filings with the SEC. The forward-reaching statements contained herein are made only as of the date of this press release and the Company assumes or undertakes no obligation to publicly update such forward-looking statements to reflect subsequent events or circumstances.
Source: Electronic Control Security Inc.,