Greek Shipping News Cuts
Week 25 - 2004

 

Europe takes a knock at Posidonia

---The anti-EU sentiment reflected in this week's European parliamentary elections appears to have struck a chord with the shipping community attending this year's Posidonia. A rousing speech delivered by Epaminondas Embiricos quickly became the talking point of the exhibition after his forthright attack on the European Commission's "misguided" and "politically motivated" maritime policies earned him an enthusiastic applause and a stream of congratulations.
Embiricos accused the EC of consciously trying to undermine the IMO through unilateral actions and seeking to muzzle Europe's maritime nations by seeking to join the IMO itself. An "ill-conceived and unworkable" phase-out scheme for single-hull tankers and a determination to weaken the shipowner's right to limit his liability for oil pollution also did little to endear shipowners to the EC's way of thinking, he said. With governing parties in UK, Germany, France and Poland all suffering big losses, and several Eurosceptic parties having their best result yet in the European polls this week, shipowners have been quick to add their Euro-dissent.
Chris Hayman, MD of Seatrade, called Embiricos' speech a "surgical critique" of the EC's maritime policy, adding it was a shame that the EC's Transport Commissioner Loyola de Palacio was not there to hear it. Emmanuel Vordonis, director of Thenamaris, remarked that if Embiricos had spoken more often "we might have spent less money as a result of the ill-thought decisions of the Commission". According to Vordonis, the industry has failed to get its point across, and there is now a need for the politicians to be educated on shipping matters.
Still, Embiricos did not say anything new. The points he raised at the forum have been on the agenda as topics of concern with both the Union of Greek Shipowners and the London-based Greek Shipping Co-operation Committee. One industry observer said Embiricos' remarks were hailed because his points had not been made quite so stridently in the past.
Source: Newswatch, Fairplay International Shipping Weekly, 17 Jun 2004


A world leader in a sector where fair competition rules
---Prime Minister Costas Karamanlis's presence at the opening of Posidonia 2004 contributed to making this year's exhibition a brilliant occasion. Posidonia, which caters to the global shipping industry, brought more than $40 million worth of business to Greece.
Greeks know practically nothing about Greek oceangoing shipping. In the country that leads the world in this field, the public associate shipping with coastal shipping, which they are familiar with because of their country's vast island complex. Few of them are aware of the following:
- Oceangoing shipping brought in 9.75 billion euros in 2003, an increase of 10.94 percent over 2001. And in 2004, it is expected to bring in 12 billion euros in exchange, meaning that it accounts for as much as 20 percent of the trade balance.
- The Greek-owned fleet numbers some 4,000 ships, with a capacity of 170 million tons, in second place after Japan (about 115 million tons), with Norway and China third and fourth.
- The Union of Greek Shipowners (UGS) estimates that 95 percent of the Greek commercial fleet operates on the international market, and 20 percent of the cargo that goes to the United States is carried by Greek ships.
- Around 400 new ships have been ordered by Greek shipowners since 2000; orders for new craft are worth $8 billion.
- By March 2004, 310 of the new craft, with a capacity of 26.5 million tons, had been delivered to Greek shipowners.
- Of those ships, 200 carry liquid fuel (VLCC, Suezmax, Aframax, Panamax, products carriers and gas carriers).
- More than 74 Greek companies have ordered new ships.
- Greek interests account for 17 percent of the turnover of shipyards worldwide in terms of tonnage, and 9 percent in terms of number of ships.
- According to the UGS, Greek shipowners have invested the equivalent of two national Greek budgets in the construction of new ships.
- On the international new order market, some 350 ships changed hands in the first 10 weeks of 2004 and Greeks were involved in 20 percent of those transactions.
- During the same period, Greek shipowners invested $1.6 billion in the second-hand ship market.
- More than 60 percent of the global production of crude and refined oil is transported by sea every year. Greek shipowners control more than 25 percent of the global fleet of oil tankers.
- More than 90 percent of the European Union's external trade and 41 percent of its internal trade is conducted by sea. The Greek flag flies over 40 percent of the European fleet, and when Greek-owned ships flying under the Cypriot and Maltese flags are included, Greek-owned ships represent about 60 percent of the European fleet.
- Some 44 Greek commercial fleets belonging to 44 companies are currently in operation, each with a capacity of more than 1 million metric tons.
- There are more than 50 companies which each control more than 20 ships.
- Greek oceangoing shipping is one of the country's largest employers, with 190,000 people employed at sea and on land, according to a study by Piraeus University.
- There are about 1,000 shipping companies in Piraeus offering financial, insurance and advisory services, ship's supplies, spare parts, repairs, crews and representation. More than 123,000 people are employed in that sector.
- There are more than 60,000 Greek sailors and 50,000 foreign sailors working on Greek ships.
No other branch of the Greek economy offers so much or works so effectively without becoming a burden on state coffers. Yet the average Greek knows little about the achievements of Greek shipping, and the State discourages young people from entering the trade.
It is time the State paid due attention to the only sector of the economy which gives without making demands, and which is the only one to make Greece an unqualified leader on the world map.
Spotlight on shipping
The recent Posidonia exhibition put shipping in the spotlight. The presence of Prime Minister Costas Karamanlis at the opening and the clear views he expressed in his speech also helped. He spoke in favor of competitiveness and of upgrading ships and sailors so as to improve shipping.
The previous premier, Costas Simitis, had a negative attitude to shipping that was also adopted by the stock exchange, which was dazzled by bubbles and failed to recognize the size and potential of shipping.
Karamanlis appears to know that shipping had been operating along globalized lines of fierce competition long before those terms were supposedly discovered by economic sages.
Without asking for money or loans, oceangoing shipping makes an enormous contribution to the national economy, and it is time this contribution was made known and duly acknowledged.
Source: www.ekathimerini.com, 14 Jun 04


Strintzis takes helm at HFD heralding new phase in ferry sector
---Veteran ferry operator Gerassimos Strintzis has taken on the job of overhauling Hellas Flying Dolphins, Greece's largest ferry operation. Strintzis' appointment as general manager of HFD not only opens another chapter in HFD's short history but is likely to herald another round of consolidation within the sector,
With the full backing of Minoan Lines, a 31.6% stake holder in HFD, Strintzis was named to the job June 17 after winning a seat on the HFD's 12-member board in elections held during the agm the same day. He has pledged to embark on a fleet renewal programme which will see units sold and new ships built as the over 60-ship fleet is converted into a more market-orientated outfit.
"HFD is the biggest company and we want to further improve the better results of the past two years. My target is to increase at an even faster pace the development of the company," declared Strintzis. It was the first comments he had made since the seemingly acrimonious split with the Pericles Panagopulos-controlled Attica Enterprises/Blue Star Maritime group earlier this month and answer the call to join rivals HFD. Until a few weeks back Blue Star Maritime was known as Strintzis Lines Shipping in which Attica Enterprises holds a 48.6% stake. Citing "personal reasons" for his resignation from the AE group, Strintzis has since been forced to deny he has retained any working link with any other ferry group.
The appointment of Strintzis is known to have the support of HFD's prime financial backers Piraeus Bank and that of Minoan, whose chairman, Costas Klironomos is also chairman of HFD. The latest development adds weight to Minoan's contention it has no intention of selling its stake in HFD as some Minoan shareholders want. Indeed, amendments to the HFD's constitution mean at least a two-third majority is needed on the board before any major decisions can be implemented. Besides Minoan, the only other big shareholder in HFD now on the company's board is leading reefer ship operator, Panos Laskaridis.
Strintzis has confirmed ships in the fleet are to be sold as the company seeks to reduce operational and management costs while consolidating its position in the Aegean and Eastern Mediterranean. Three vessels are to be built by Australian builder, Austal Ships. These comprise a fifth 37-knot 85mtr vehicle/passenger catamaran ferry to be delivered in May 2005 and two flying cats of around 47mtr with 75% of the financing being arranged through a foreign bank and Austal. A ro-ro is to be purchased to bolster the company's operation between Corinth and Venice.
Analysts believe developments at HFD, which in 2003 turned in a Euro 7.1m profit after a series of losses, will stir other companies into action. June 20 Minoan Lines holds its agm, an event likely to produce more excitement.
In the meantime, chairman and md of Minoan's Cretan rival Anek Lines, John Vardinoyannis will be taking developments on board. He attended the HFD meeting and Anek is now expected to take decisions regarding struggling Rhodes-based Dane Sea Lines in which it holds a 41.87% stake. Some see Dane as the next bit to be placed in the Greek ferry puzzle.
Source: www.newsfront, -- Filed: 2004-06-18


Banks push more money to Greeks
---Financing of Greek shipping has risen by nearly 40% in just two years.
Banks are continuing to pour money into the Greek shipping machine and financing has reached a historical high, despite the fact that profitability margins for Greek shipping deals are considerably lower than margins in other international markets.
A new study put out by independent Greek analyst XRTC Business Consultants concludes that aggregate bank financing to Greek shipping stands at $24.8bn, up 39% from 2002, with finance on newbuilding orders accounting for $7.2bn.
George Xiradakis of XRTC notes that in the two years since the company's previous analysis, bank portfolios increased annually by $5.1bn, which translates to a total of $20.7m investment in Greek shipping for each bank working day.
Changes in the Greek-controlled fleet have reduced the number of vessels but deadweight has increased and the aggregate orderbook stands at a historically high level of 370 vessels worth $13.5bn. This marks an increase between May 2003 and May 2004 of 43% in size and 93% in value, XRTC says. The analysis finds that out of 53 banks active in financing Greek shipping, in terms of exposure the top five banks control almost 56% of the entire portfolio. Eleven German banks account for 32% of the total exposure ($7.8bn), four UK banks hold a 24% share ($5.9bn) and 13 Greek banks have a 21% participation with $5.2bn.
Top lender to the Greek market continues to be the Royal Bank of Scotland (RBS), followed by Deutsche Schiffsbank. HSH Nordbank moved up into third position, edging the National Bank of Greece down to fourth. Greek Alpha Credit Bank came in fifth.
However, the survey points out that a possible alteration of the general policy of the German banking system could result in pressure on Greek shipping. It notes that German Landesbanks presently enjoy a state guarantee on their entire lending portfolios.
"From 2005 onwards, however, this privilege will gradually be abolished, consequently altering the strategy of the relevant institutions," the study said.
XRTC notes that profitability margins on shipfinancing deals are under pressure because of increasing competition among financiers targeting Greek shipping. In order to compensate for reduced margins, financiers have expanded alternatives they are offering to the industry, such as advisory services and risk-hedging and asset-management products.
The study also finds there has been an evolution in bank-financing patterns. Over the past five years banks have targeted larger companies, looking for a corporate structure, and to some extent the smaller traditional Greek owners have been "left out of the game".
Until 2002, XRTC says, syndicated deals were favoured by most banks but bilateral deals and smaller-size club deals have become more popular in the past 18 months. Additionally, banks have shifted to more sophisticated structures and more complex financing deals including lease financings, off-balance sheet financings and export credits.
Source: www.lloydslist.com, Gillian Whittaker-Athens, published: 18 June 2004


General Maritime transaction completed
---The $825 million transaction involved 75 banks and was approximately 25% oversubscribed. The syndicate closed on June 15th. Closing is scheduled for July 1st. The following banks were involved in the transaction.
Nordea Lease Arranger, Bank Manager, Administrative Agent $100
Bank of Scotland Co-arranger $72
Citigroup Co-arranger $72
Dresden Co-arranger $72
HSH Nordbank Co-arranger $72
RBS Co-arranger $72
Fortis Senior Manager $40
DVB Senior Manager $40
Dnb NOR Senior Manager $40
Danish Ship Finance Senior Manager $40
Lloyds Senior Manager $40
SEB Senior Manager $40
VuW Senior Manager $40
Allied Irish Lender $25
Bank of Ireland Lender $25
Natex Lender $25
CIC Lender $10
Total $825 (Numbers in millions USD)
Source: www.marinemoney.com, 17 Jun 04


NOE's fleet now 20% Greek managed
---THE retiring chairman of the North of England P&I club George Procopiou, head of tanker operator Dynacom Ltd, speaking at a reception in Piraeus last week, said that following the recent renewals that over 20% of the club's 50m gt fleet was now managed from Greece.
'The North of England has managed to enhance its market position and industry reputation in Greece despite continuing rises in P&I premiums and claims costs,' he said.
Greek owners and operators now account for 60 of the North of England's 325 members. They include Alpha Tankers & Freighters, Anangel, Avin, Brave, Chartworld Shipping Corporation, Dynacom, Kyklades, Laskarides, Maramas Navigation, Minerva, Technomar and Tsakos. Between them Greek members have 325 ships totalling 11 million GT entered in the club, representing 12% and 23% of the totals respectively.
Source: www.mng.com, Tuesday, 15 June 2004


W.I.S.T.A. Hellas met overseas members
---W.I.S.T.A. Hellas organised a gathering for members visiting Piraeus during Posidonia 2004,.
The event was held at the Piraeus Nautical Museum and was attended by 20 members of other National WISTAs (namely USA, UK, Norway, Denmark & Italy), and approximately 40 members and guests of WISTA Hellas.
We all enjoyed a guided tour around the museum and its exhibits and had the chance to meet each other and exchange views on various professional matters.
We would like to thank the overseas members attending and we look forward to meeting all of you again at Rotterdam.
Kind regards, W.I.S.T.A. Hellas
Source: W.I.S.T.A. Hellas, 16 Jun 04


Unimarine closes new contracts at Posidonia
---A new High Purity Nitrogen Plant, designed by Unigas especially for the demanding conditions on board vessels, attracted a lot of interest on the stand of Unimarine Services Ltd. The plant is used to decompress the Nitrogen that is contained in cylinders at 200 bars, to the pressure that is required for cargo padding.
A Central System for Welding Gases, also developed by Unigas, was almost as successful as the Nitrogen Plant. This system supplies welding gases in a safe and efficient way from one central point on the vessel to wherever they are needed.
All the components have been designed for strength and durability and are manufactured to the strict specifications of Unigas. This is the reason why Unimarine offers a 5-year guarantee on all the parts.
Unimarine has already closed several contracts for the supply of above-mentioned plants.
Unimarine Services manufactures and supplies Chemicals for Cleaning and Maintenance, Gases and Equipment for Welding, Cutting and Refrigeration and provides Fire Fighting and Safety Services. To comply with the ISPS code Unimarine can also supply Hand Held Metal Detectors and other security items. Oil Spill Control Boxes and Oil Spill Dispersants (Uniclean OSD Enviro - Type II & III) are also available.
Source: Piraeus, 17 Jun 04, Unimarine Services Ltd, Ms. Elise Croonen, Marketing & PR Manager, Tel: (+ 30) 210 42 48 667 Fax: (+30) 210 42 82 668, Email: info@unimarine.gr - www.unimarine.gr