Greek Shipping News Cuts
Week 27 - 2004

 

"Prestige" master's appeal rejected

---A Spanish court has rejected an appeal from Greece to allow the master of the "Prestige", Apostolos Mangouras, to return home. Fresh appeals are expected. The court ruled that Greece could not guarantee that Mangouras would return to Spain to be present for any judgement made against him.
Mangouras has been in Spanish custody since 15 November, 2002. He spent 84 days in prison and has since been on bail, but banned from leaving Spain and he has to report to the police once a week. His vessel, the "Prestige", broke in two and sank on 19 November, 2002. (30.06.04)
Source: SSG Newsletter 26/04, Maritime News for Northern Europe


Handymax sale gives hint of easing prices
---Figure said to be around 25% less than would have been secured two months ago, writes David Osler- Monday June 28 2004
EVERY so often comes a secondhand ship sale that somehow seems to symbolise a turn in the market.
If you believe some commentators, a case in point is the reported sale of handymax New Generation (45,863 dwt, built 1994), which went to undisclosed buyers for a price variously reported as anything from $16m to $18.5m.
According to the weekly report from one London broker this is around 25% less than would have been secured two months ago, and constitutes the new benchmark for vessels in this size bracket.
Allied Shipbrokers of Greece have been doing a little research and calculate that over the past 18 months, there have been 32 sales of bulkers in the 40,000-45,000 dwt range, built between 1992 and 1996.
In September last year, just before secondhand prices went into overdrive, a vessel with these characteristics was worth around $12m.
By the first week of this year, they were fetching more than $18m, and the market appears to have peaked with the sale of Sanko Ranger to Thoresen in March this year for $26m.
But - unlike Tony Blair, perhaps - the S&P market does have a reverse gear, as the New Generationdeal proves.
World Romance (74,047 dwt, built 1999) has gone to Greek interests for $26m, including a two-year time charter back at $20,000 a day. General cargoship Kwangtung (21,725 dwt, built 1986) has been purchased by Oasis for around $8m.
Another handysize, Heritage, built 1976 and of 20,949 dwt, has gone to Noor Maritime for $2.25m. Seller was Thoresen Thai Agencies.
Great Eastern has sold its last mini-bulker, GE3 (2,100 dwt, built 1998), to undisclosed interests at an equally undisclosed price.
Over on the wet side, tanker prices are still heading north although perhaps cannot be described as racing ahead.
Easily the most attention-grabbing tanker deal of the week has been the OMI move to purchase 12 tankers from Athenian Sea Carriers for a consideration of $585m.
Making up the passage are four suezmaxes built 2003 or 2004 and eight 47,000 dwt product carriers now being built at Hyundai Mipo.
Together they aggregate around 1m dwt.
OMI, which obviously is not in a mood to sit back and brood over the rejection of its bid for Stelmar, also says it is talking to another owner about the possibility of buying a pair of modern suezmaxes.
To cap a busy week the company also says it is selling Elbe (38,529 dwt, built 1984) and Volga (65,689 dwt, built 1981).
Tanker Pacific is the reported buyer of Genmar Harriet (146,000 dwt, built 1989), paying $19.5m.
Cabo De Hornos (67,208 dwt, built 1982) secured $5m from Canada Steamship Lines. The plan is apparently to convert it into a self-discharging bulk carrier.
In a reported resale Ancora has sold a 37,000 dwt ship due delivery 2005 to Onia Management for a sum in the region of $34m.
The 2003-built Monte- pora, of 1,850 dwt and double-hulled, has been sold to undisclosed buyers for $6m.
Reports that Arcadia Shipmanagement has committed its double bottomed Betatank (11,800 dwt, built 1989) appear to be premature.
A sister vessel recently made $19.75m, so it will be interesting to see how this ship does.
Meanwhile, the reported sale of Formosapetro Ace (281,000 dwt, built 2001) to German buyers for $90m is reported to have fallen through, and the vessel is back on the market if you are interested.
The gas tanker Bangos (3,000 dwt, built 1999) is said top have gone to Exmar for $7m.
Reefership Forte Laurette(5,065 dwt, built 1991) has been sold to Fairport of Greece for $4.95m.
Source: Monday June 28 2004 , www.lloydslist.com


Greek shipping company threatens to lay off Maldives seamen after drug offences
--- A Greek shipping company has warned its agent in Maldives that the company might have to lay off some 400 Maldives seamen after a few Maldives seamen have been involved in drug abuse and trafficking.
"This is tragic. If such a large number of our seamen are laid off, it will negatively affect individual families and the whole industry as well," said an official from the local recruiting agent Goodwill.
Last year, three seamen sent by Goodwill was put in jail in two countries on drug-related charges. Recently, two Maldives seamen were arrested in Dubai and Italy. In addition to this, this particular Greek company had sent two seamen back to Maldives on drug-related problems.
The Goodwill official said that these problems have been referred to the Maldives authorities.
"When a few seamen get involved in crime for their own selfish material needs, it affects other innocent seamen as well. Our company will try to protect the jobs of all seamen," the official said.
Goodwill runs awareness programs on drug abuse and trafficking before sending its seamen abroad.
"We educate them on the International Safety Management (ISM) code on drugs and alcohol, and the punishments accorded under the code," the official said.
"We even carry out dope tests before sending our seamen," the official said, adding that those presently in Goodwill's employment are being warned against drug offences.
Source: www.haveeru.com.mv, Tuesday, 29 th June 2004


Shipping industry strategy
---A major priority is to make Piraeus a center for the international merchant marine
Merchant Marine Minister Manolis Kefaloyiannis announces measures to improve the shipping sector.
The government is moving ahead with the adoption of measures to improve services in the merchant marine sector. In line with the New Democracy government's promise, the Merchant Marine Ministry is about to take immediate steps to give the Greek shipping industry the clout it needs. The measures will permit Greek merchant marine officers to acquire the skills they need to survive in a very competitive field. They will also allow Greek business owners to expect services that will gradually improve the competitiveness of the Greek flag.
A major step is to be the use of shipping courts, now available only abroad. Merchant Marine Minister Manolis Kefaloyiannis told Kathimerini in an interview that the Hellenic Register of Shipping is to be upgraded and an attempt made to establish Protection and Indemnity Clubs in Greece.
According to sources, following the measures Kefaloyiannis announces - which are mainly related to studies offered to students planning to work in the sector - the ministry will also take steps to improve the competitiveness of Greek ships.
The government has drafted a plan to improve services offered by the merchant marine, along with the possibility of providing such services in Piraeus.
The Greece we envisage needs a strong shipping sector and the new challenges include the need for a serious and realistic approach to shipping policy. Improving services is our priority, and as far as Piraeus is concerned I can tell you that we have already taken some initial steps. In cooperation with the Justice Ministry we are establishing a comprehensive legislative framework on shipping arbitration and are to establish the institution of shipping courts. We are also strengthening the role of Greek insurance companies in covering shipping risks. We have also decided to encourage Greek shipowners to set up protection and indemnity clubs.
Based on what I have just said, I can tell you that the goal of our policy is to improve the business environment by making Piraeus and its surroundings a great shipping center. We want to ensure a climate of cooperation and stability by means of cooperation between the State, shipping workers and shipowners, and to give the National Council for Shipping Policy a strategic role to play.
You also want to improve the level of studies for the merchant marine sector; does this include private academies?
From the outset we have been in favor of improving seamen's training by means of continual improvements in existing training programs at all merchant marine academies. This is a project that we are planning and to a great extent have completed in close, direct cooperation with the ministry's secretary general, Professor Yiannis Tzoannos.
It is also our goal to promote shipping education at national and international level, to contract agreements in this sector and to attract more young people to the academies and the sector generally. According to law 3153/2003, merchant marine crews can also receive training at private schools. Amendments have been submitted for approval in order to implement all these legislative provisions.
In particular, these are:
* A draft presidential decree on the syllabus and monitoring of private shipping schools by the Merchant Marine Ministry, including the obligations of the institutions being monitored and the administrative sanctions to be imposed when regulations are violated.
* A draft presidential decree on the qualifications required for seamen's licenses and their rights on board ship.
* A draft joint ministerial decree by the Merchant Marine and National Education ministries on the conditions, terms and licensing of private merchant marine academies.
* A draft joint ministerial degree by the Merchant Marine and National Education ministries on the necessary infrastructure, equipment, syllabus, teachers' qualifications at private merchant marine academies, as well as the institutions and procedures for evaluating them.
* A draft joint ministerial decree by the same ministries on ensuring the quality of services provided by these private institutions.
The Merchant Marine Ministry is drafting another decree providing for the certification necessary to set up and operate a private merchant marine academy.
We know that the Greek shipping sector chiefly uses foreign shipping registers. Are there any plans to upgrade the Hellenic Registry of Shipping (HRS)?
Of course there are, and this is being done. As you know, the HRS is recognized by European Union law and fulfills the conditions and criteria provided for in Directive 94/57, apart from the quantitative criteria A2 and A3 (the minimum total capacity for ships in the class and the number of inspectors).
Nevertheless, although recognized, it is so far only authorized by Greece to certify ships according to the International Maritime Organization's international conventions.
A presidential decree provides for the incorporation of EU Directive EC2001/105 and the general extension of the shipping registers' powers to inspect and give government approval to domestic cargo ships of over 500 GRT and conventional passenger ships of over 1,500 GRT. This is expected to gradually satisfy demands to improve the HRS's quantitative criteria.
US government donates three patrol boats to Hellenic Coast Guard
ATHENS, 29/6/2004 (ANA), www.hri.org
The US government has donated three patrol boats to the Hellenic Coast Guard to patrol ports and marinas around Greece, according to a US embassy press release.
"In support of the Government of Greece's security efforts for the 2004 Athens Olympics, the U.S. Government has donated three state-of-the-art patrol boats to the Hellenic Coast Guard. The boats, all 27-foot Boston Whalers, were presented to Merchant Marine Minister Manolis Kefalogiannis and Hellenic Coast Guard Vice Admiral Christos Delimichalis by U.S. Assistant Secretary of State for Diplomatic Security Francis X. Taylor during a ceremony at the Faliron Marina in Athens on June 26," the release said.
"The Hellenic Coast Guard will use the three boats for close in patrolling of ports and marinas around Greece and for quick interdiction against rogue vessels at sea. The ships were donated as part of the ongoing training for Hellenic Coast Guard personnel sponsored by the Anti-Terrorism Assistance Program (ATA) of the U.S. Department of State's Diplomatic Security Service," it was added.
Source: By Dimitris Kapranos - Kathimerini, 28 Jun 2004


Greeks use pity for political support
---Union of Greek Shipowners (UGS) president Nicos Efthymiou told journalists last week:
To back up his statement, Efthymiou highlighted figures recently released by the Bank of Greece indicating that income generated by the country's shipping sector amounted to around $11.5bn in 2003 - a figure that is expected to rise in 2004. However, it is estimated that around $5.9bn from Greece's shipping portfolio does not make its way back into the country's economy.
This, says Efthymiou, is because Greek owners simply take their business to other shipping service centres, in most cases London.
Efthymiou's often-repeated phrase, "It's a pity", which may sound like noble words from the UGS, is pitched largely at a domestic audience. The UGS is clearly trying to rally support to help push its agenda at a time of change in Greek politics and policies.
This is nothing new. The UGS has traditionally hammered away at any new incumbent in the shipping ministry for support, whether markets are high or low.
Now there is a fresh conservative government in town and the new shipping minister has been quoted as promising his support for the sector.
Recently a new master plan for shipping (2004-2008) was proposed by the government and an open debate will take place within the newly established National Council for Maritime Policy, with the UGS as just one of the participants.
Efthymiou said: "The greatest contribution of the Council would be to stress to policymakers and the general public the decisive contribution of shipping to the economy of our country."
At a practical level, there is no doubt the Greek economy would stand to benefit from more business being retained in Greece.
In addition, Greek shipowners have always been generous benefactors of Greek civic life, funding projects as diverse as hospitals, earthquake relief and sponsorship for athletes. The Alafouzos family, to name a recent example, has just donated a new oncology wing to the public Sotiria Hospital.
But the Greek state, notes Efthymiou, has yet to deliver a package that would attract more owners to the Greek flag, while Greek crewing issues remain a worrying factor for the future.
So, while the comment "It's a pity" would hardly raise an eyebrow in the business community, it might be just the right eye-opener to get the political world to ensure a stable policy for Greek shipping.
Source: www.tradewinds.no, published: 02 July 2004


Little progress made in ferry price battle
---A two-hour meeting between ferry operators and Marine minister Manolis Kefaloyiannis July 1 and a subsequent meeting between the ferrymen and National Economy & Finance minister, George Alogoskoufis failed to make any headway in the argument over ferry fares.
Representatives of the ferry operators maintain they have the right to increase tariffs in a free marketplace, while the government insists on retaining control over prices "in the public interest".
Indeed, Kefaloyiannis has warned that ferry operators who increase the price of tourist class tickets and garage tariffs could face legal action. Though the owners insist the domestic seatransportation network's survival hangs on higher prices, the Union of Coastal Passengership Owners did not introduce a 10% increase on July 1 as they had threatened to do.
Owners claim that under European Union law, which has applied since cabotage ended January 1, 2004, they have the right to set fare and tariff levels and have voted to do so, saying that a truly competitive market operates in favour of the passenger anyway.
They say their operational costs have increased sharply with some of them insisting there should be a 15% increase in prices. Kefaloyiannis told the owners he appreciates their position, but "will not accept decisions taken by one side". Calling for dialogue not confrontation, the minister has agreed to meet owners again early next week.
Source: www.newsfront.gr, 2 July 2004


'Easyjet Could Go Private' - Report
---No-frills airline easyJet could be taken private under plans being drawn up by founder Stelios Haji-Ioannou, it was reported today.
Finance for the move would come from selling the family's stake in the Stelmar shipping business or teaming up with the a private equity group, according to the Sunday Express.
EasyJet last month lowered expectations of profits after feeling the pressure of unprofitable and unrealistic pricing in an increasingly competitive market.
Sky-high oil prices have also taken their toll on the airline, with the cost of crude surging to more than 42 US dollars a barrel earlier this year.
Mr Haji-Ioannou is reported to have told the Sunday Express that a return to private ownership is an option, although no one from easyJet was available to comment today.
Analysts believe the low-frills travel market is close to saturation point and many smaller airlines are likely to be forced out in the next few years.
This would leave the sector dominated by a few large groups that would be able to raise prices more easily to boost their balance sheets.
Source: By David Winning, City Staff, PA News, http://business.scotsman.com


Royal Olympic games
---HAVING survived two consecutive years of weak financial results attributed to terrorism and conflict, Piraeus-based Royal Olympic Cruises (ROC) was looking forward to a profitable summer 2004 season. Besides a strong rebound in bookings, it also anticipated a major boost in profits and publicity from its participation in the hospitality programme of the Athens Olympic Games. Just when it thought the worst was over, the bankers and creditors struck. The Nasdaq-listed cruise company is now in the grip of an unprecedented crisis with consequences that are hard to predict. It has lost the ownership of two new vessels, the Olympia Voyager and Olympia Explorer, and is struggling to keep control over the rest of its fleet, six old cruise ships. ROC's current woes can be traced back to its decision to expand, perhaps beyond its means, by ordering newbuildings for the first time in its history. Banking on its five decades of experience in the East Mediterranean cruise market, mostly trading under its previous name Epirotiki, ROC was confident it could cope with such a large financial exposure. But 11 September threw the company's calculations into disarray.
In particular, it cited unacceptable levels of noise and vibration caused by the ship's propulsion system. It is a mystery why the first of the sister newbuildings, the Voyager, did not present a similar problem. It took the yard a year to bring the vessel up to ROC's satisfaction. On top of that it had to pay $9M to ROC as compensation for punitive damages because the delayed delivery had resulted in cancellation of cruises. Then it was the turn of Germans to give ROC a hard time. Until autumn 2003, the Greek company had paid $20M plus interest against the loan. ROC requested an extension for a $6M instalment due for December because it was short of cash. The request was rejected and on 17 December ROC filed for protection under Chapter XI of the US bankruptcy code for the subsidiaries owning Olympia Voyager and Olympia Explorer. The move was a pre-emptive action to avoid arrest of the vessels by the German banks. However, it sparked panic among the company's creditors. At home, the Piraeus bunker supplier EKO-ELDA and the ship's chandler Mavricos took legal action to secure the money owed to them. As a result, the Triton cut short an Aegean trip and called at Patras instead of Piraeus to avoid arrest. ROC has filed for protection from domestic creditors under the Greek law, but the case has yet to be heard in court.
Meanwhile, another ROC vessel, the Olympia Countess, was arrested in Durban on 8 January against a demand from the action of Turkish creditors. It was chartered to South Africa-based Starlight Cruises, which is expected to sue ROC for damages. The ship goes under the auctioneer's hammer on 29 January and ROC is keen to be among the bidders. The Countess, together with the Voyager and Explorer, was contracted by the Athens 2004 organising committee to serve as floating hotel during the Games period. The situation in ROC prompted a series of board member resignations. Even the company's founder and major shareholder Andreas Potamianos resigned, only to return the following day having realised that no one would be left to run the show. He had previously spent two weeks trying to convince the bankers to accept a debt restructuring plan to no avail. On 16 January, ROC announced that its subsidiaries "have amicably resolved their differences with the German banks". Even if ROC is given the chance to operate the ships as charterer, it will need a great deal of cash to sort the mess out and resume business as usual.
Lay-up costs cash
The month-long immobilisation of the Voyager and Explorer in the US and the ensuing cancellation of cruises cost much-needed cash. In addition, angry creditors are demanding payment all at once. At the moment none of the company's ships is trading and the question is where can the cash be found. No sensible banker or investor would throw money into such unsettled situation. However, there is some hope that the Greek government will ultimately become ROC's saviour. This will happen because of the pressure exerted by seafaring unions and by business and service groups who make a living from catering for the ships and passengers of ROC. With general elections 40 days away and the ruling party PASOK in grave danger of losing, the government can ill afford to lose any votes over dissatisfaction with the ROC affair. The likely course of action is for the goverment to provide a guarantee for a fresh bank loan.
Source: Cover Story, Fairplay International Shipping Weekly, 29 Jan 2004


Early bookings flood in for Posidonia 2006
---Even before the dust from Posidonia 2004 settled, the 20th edition of the world's biggest shipping trade event to be held between June 5 - 9, 2006, at the familiar waterfront venue of the Piraeus Port Authority Exhibition Centre, heads fast for a new sell out.
"We have already received more than 80 provisional space booking forms for Posidonia 2006, and we still have 24 months ahead of us," said Nana Michael, Managing Director of Posidonia Exhibitions, the biennial event's organiser.
"Major shipping nations such as Korea and China have requested even bigger space for the next event and we estimate that the exhibition's net area in two years time will set a new record exceeding this year's 23,000 square metres," she said.
Record-breaking Posidonia 2004 attracted a total of 1,662 exhibitors from 74 countries. Of those, eight countries are new participants, including Egypt, Kuwait, Martinique and Vietnam.
The exhibition was attended by a total of 17,000 shipping industry professionals, a fifth of which were international visitors. Many of them came from the United Kingdom, Turkey, the Netherlands, the U.S.A., Germany and China, but practically every maritime nation was strongly represented.
Asian and European maritime industry representatives praised Posidonia for the event's dynamism and ability to seamlessly group together an immensely diverse portfolio of shipping and related industries.
"A lot of our clients are from Greece and Posidonia is an excellent forum for us to meet and greet them. Our international client base is also present here making Posidonia an indispensable part of our promotional activities schedule," said Mr Oh-Yoon Kwon, Senior Manager, KOSHIPA, Korea's Shipbuilders' Association."
Richard Sayer, Chairman, Maritime London, said: "Posidonia is an immensely important shipping industry exhibition as it brings together thousands of Greek and international players. It's a meeting ground of great value to participants who have the chance to meet major Greek ship owners and operators. I believe that this year's show is the most successful since its launch 35 years ago as the shipping market has reached unprecedented profitability levels."
The 200-strong Greek and international Press contingent, which was registered for the show, was also appreciative of the Greek Prime Minister's visit during the show's official opening ceremony. In his speech, Costas Karamanlis paid tribute to the hard working Greek ship owners and seafarers for their contribution to the establishment of the Greek-owned fleet as the largest in the world.
Apart from the presence of the Greek Prime Minister, another highlight of the week-long event was the Posidonia Maritime Policy Forum, which was attended by 450 delegates from 30 countries and sponsored by Piraeus Bank.
The Forum tackled major current shipping issues and made global headlines with powerful speeches from the industry's most influential figures, including the Secretary General of the IMO Mr. Efthymios Mitropoulos, the President of the Union of Greek Shipowners Mr. Nikos Efthymiou and the Chairman of the Greek Shipping Co-operation Committee Mr. Epaminondas Embiricos, as well as Ministers from the world's leading shipping nations.
"We are certain that Posidonia 2006 will also build up a strong momentum as we expect it to be an even bigger event. The industry's leading representatives all seem to agree on Posidonia's tremendous ability to bring together an immensely influential group of shipping professionals and function as a catalyst of future developments in the ever-evolving shipping sector," said Nana Michael.
"The dynamism and high appeal of the exhibition brings in tens of millions of euros to Greece whilst the event constitutes the best possible promotion of Greece's vibrant shipping industry. It is estimated that 40 million euros are spent during Posidonia week on public relations, conferences, seminars and hotel accommodation alone," she said.
An integral part of the week's activities is the Posidonia Cup, which this year attracted 39 sailing crews from around the world, double the number of participants of the inaugural event in 2002. The 2nd Posidonia Cup was concluded on Friday, June 4, under challenging weather conditions in Piraeus Faliron Bay, which tested the skills and stamina of the participating Greek and international crews. The race attracted wide media coverage from all around the world, and it is expected that the 2006 Posidonia Cup will be an even larger event. The event is jointly organised by the Hellenic Offshore Racing Club (HORC) and Posidonia Exhibitions and sponsored by Lloyd's Register.
For additional information, press enquiries should be directed to:
Theodore Vokos, Project Manager, tel.:+30 210 4283608, e-mail: tnv@posidonia-events.com
Stavi Spanou, Press Officer, tel.: +30 210 45 83 018, e-mail: stavi.spanou@actionprgroup.com
Source: Posidonia Organisers, Piraeus, 02/07/2004