Greek Shipping News Cuts
Week 29 - 2004

 

Greece manpower export missed on ministry tussle

---Bangladesh has missed the opportunity to open formal manpower export to Greece because of a tussle between two ministries over a demand placed by a private company for 159 workers.
A private Greek shipping company, Tranship Maritime Company, placed an order to the government for the first time to hire 159 workers from Bangladesh including some captains, masters and crew in the ocean-going ships, according to sources.
But the company cancelled the order following the press reports on the opposing views of the Ministry of Shipping and Expatriates Welfare and Overseas Employment over the issue, the sources said.
The owner of the shipping company, Constaintin G Engleszos, spent about two months in Bangladesh on recruitment. He met State Minister for Expatriates Welfare and Overseas Employment Quamrul Islam and talked about opening manpower export to his country.
Engleszos told the government officials manpower shortage in Greece is acute and at least 50,000 Bangladeshis could get job only in the shipping sector once the market opens.
Over 10,000 Bangladeshis are now staying in Greece and most of them went there through unofficial channels, the sources said.
The overseas employment ministry inquired about the existence of the company and authenticity of the demand through Bangladesh Embassy in Rome and gave formal approval for interview of the intending workers. Local recruiting agent Rabbi International also published an advertisement in the national dailies inviting the overseas job seekers for interview.
The shipping ministry however circulated a government handout saying the advertisement was false and illegal as the local agent consulted neither the shipping ministry nor the overseas employment ministry.
According to the Department of Shipping, the government has separate rules and regulations for sending workers in the shipping sector. No-one should take job in a foreign ship without training in the marine academy or seamen training centre, said a high official of the department.
Rabbi International cancelled the interview supposed to be held on July 4, 5 and 6.
The Greek employer, who was supposed to take the interview, left Bangladesh embarrassed and expressed serious resentment to his local partners and questioned the consistency of the government policy.
Officials at the overseas employment ministry were also taken aback at the government handout. They said the government created the new ministry to generate overseas employment, but the Department of Shipping did not feel it necessary to consult with them before issuing such a 'sensitive handout'. The newspaper advertisement clearly mentioned the approval of the overseas employment ministry for the recruitment.
"They should have consulted us before issuing such a handout cancelling a government approved order," said a high official of the ministry, preferring anonymity. He observed the authority to send workers in the shipping sector no more lies with the Department of Shipping after the overseas employment ministry came into existence.
Later, the top officials of the two ministries talked over telephone on the subject and agreed to cooperate each other.
An inter-ministerial meeting on Tuesday, however, decided that the recruiting agencies would have to approach the government's shipping office in Chittagong to send people to work in the overseas shipping sector.
According to the decision, the shipping ministry would provide a list of standby seamen who can go abroad for job, the meeting sources said.
There are around 4,600 registered seamen with the government's shipping office, of whom only 1,600 have job. The rest are waiting for job after getting training.
The owner of Rabbi International Mohamamd Bashir told The Daily Star on Tuesday he would serve a legal notice on the Department of Shipping in a couple of days and file a damage suit.
Source: www.bangladesh-web.com, Rafiq Hasan, Saturday July 17 2004 10:48:10 AM BDT


Fewer, but more expensive ships ordered by Greeks in 2004
---Greek shipowners placed a much smaller number of newbuilding orders in the first half of 2004 than they did in the same period last year, though the value of the ships ordered in 2004 is higher per unit. With the emphasis moving away from large tankers, though large bulk carriers are being ordered, recent orders are some 54% less in deadweight terms than those of 12 months ago.
In a just released study, Piraeus broking house George Moundreas & Co, says 82 ships of 5.3m dwt were ordered by Greeks in the first six months of 2004, compared to 108 vessels of 11.6m dwt last year. But, the investment committed by owners has, according to Moundreas, only slipped from 2003's first half $3.9bn to some $3.1bn this year. There are no high price passenger ships ordered but four LNG carriers worth near $170m each boosted the investment. There are also 22 confirmed ship options held by Greek interests.
George Banos, head of Moundreas' newbuilding department, does not expect the rate of orders to increase in the second half of 2004. He points out that yards have limited capacity and many are booked to the end of 2007.
He notes that shipping sailed into 2004 in an atmosphere of a fast rising freight market which peaked in March and April after China expressed concern over its overheating economy. The frequent fluctuations of the tanker market, which in broad lines remained high, also played a part in panicking shipowners to invest in new ships, whatever the price. At the sametime, there was only a limited number of ships for sale and newbuilding berths at traditional centres quickly filled.
Banos said that shipyards are reluctant to take orders for delivery after mid-2008 because of their inability to predict the prices of raw materials and equipment that far ahead. Banos says that as a result vessel prices have increased, in the case of suezmax tankers by about $10m, and quite "dramatically" for aframax tankers and capesize bulkers.
Of the 82 ships ordered, 55 were tankers of 3.7m dwt, including a number of small chemical/products tankers of less than 13,000dwt set to trade in niche markets. About 23 orders and 11 options have been placed for this type of tanker. There were 17 bulk carriers of 1.6m dwt ordered in the first six months of 2004, compared to 29 bulkers of 2.4m dwt last year.
Source: www.newsfront.gr 16 Jul 2004


Why shipping needs Stelios
---Entrepreneurs mess around. "Once you've proven the business model, leave it alone and get a manager in." So says the gospel according to Stelios, but it seems the young Greek serial entrepreneur can't leave well alone. This week the share price of no-frills airline easyJet plumbed new depths, and speculators began to read more into Stelios Haji-Ioannou's hint that he would "keep his options open" than was intended. The result was that when its major shareholder clarified that he would buy back the airline only as "an extreme measure", easyJet shares fell. Reporters and market analysts have charted the price movements and factored in Stelios' latest pronouncements.
EasyJet is the perfect vehicle for the entrepreneurial model: it works where consumers pay with their own money (i.e. B2C) rather than with someone else's (B2B), consumers can be attracted by lowering the price, yield can be easily managed, promises can always be met and expansion is controlled. The company's current difficulties do not relate to the model but to the circumstances in which the model is operated. Stelmar is a different animal. Stelios followed his father into tankering. It's old thinking, safe and predictable (within reason). With the tanker operator up and running, he jumped ship at the tender age of 26. Managers were in place, there was a clear direction and a stock listing in New York. But the approach from OMI and subsequent developments have revealed that Stelios' first child is still the one he watches from afar. Someone needs to tell the founder that a board of directors is responsible to the shareholders and will be replaced if they think their best interests are being overlooked.
Source: Fairplay International Shipping Weekly, 15 Jul 2004


London Club says Spain s not learning Prestige lessons
---MARINE mutual liability insurer London Steamship Owners Mutual Insurance Association's latest annual report includes a detailed critique of Spain's handling of the Prestige case.
The chief executive of London Club's manager A Bilborough & Co however denies press reports that his comments can be seen as "lashing out" at Spain. Paul Hinton says that his remarks were intended to highlight what has gone wrong and to express concern that lessons have not been learnt.
Speaking today, Mr Hinton contrasted the approaches to marine casualties in the UK and Spain. He noted that while the UK had independent and transparent inquiries which "got to the bottom" of the causes of accidents, "there appears to be no such transparent process in Spain".
The result according to Mr Hinton was not only that mistakes in the handling of the Prestige incident have not been identified but problems have been actually compounded by ill judged policy decisions in response to the incident.
He particularly cited Spain's insistence on a financial guarantee before granting vessels a place of refuge. The policy, according to Mr Hinton, is not only counterproductive but also unnecessary under existing international conventions.
Nevertheless the London Club report does include some trenchant criticism of Spain including: "To those familiar with the case of the Prestige, the reported unwillingness of the former government to acknowledge promptly the likelihood that international terrorists were responsible for the Madrid atrocity on March 11 may seem to resemble its refusal to concede that it would have been preferable to have offered the prestige a place of refuge."
Mr Hinton's remarks conclude with a plea to the new Spanish government. He says: "It is to be hoped that the new government will bring a more constructive approach to the resolution of the variety of issues which have arisen from this case."
Source: www.mgn.com, Friday, 16 July 2004


Elefsis anger as Hellenic turmoil continues
---Firm urges government to scrutinise German firm's handling of shipyard, writes Nigel Lowy in Athens- Monday July 19 2004
ELEFSIS Shipyards has pitched into a festering row over neighbouring Hellenic Shipyards that is developing between Hellenic's German owners and the Greek public sector.
In a strongly worded statement last week, Elefsis urged the Greek government and courts to scrutinise the Hellenic affair closely and seize what it dubbed "a last chance" for the country to provide a solution to its shipyard sector "as followed by all the other European countries".
The Tavoularis group yard coupled this with a broad hint that it might be interested in taking over Hellenic, saying: "This is the last chance and we are ready to contribute positively to such an effort." Elefsis' interest partly arises from the fact that its bid for Hellenic in a 2001 tendering procedure was overlooked in favour of the Howaldtswerke Deutsche Werft-Ferrostaal consortium that took over management of the facility two years ago.
Although Elefsis kicked up a stink about the handling of the tender at the time, it now claims that recent revelations in court documents and public statements have revealed the allegedly scandalous nature of the sale.
Piraeus Bank, which has brushed off any responsibility for losses, was targeted because it has recently acquired the former state bank that used to be Hellenic's parent.
This was followed by an ultimatum given by a public watchdog to Hellenic's current owners that they must provide additional capital or the yard could face losing its company licence.
According to Elefsis, Hellenic's current shareholders themselves have admitted to irregularities during the privatisation of the yard in their writs against Piraeus Bank.
It complained that the lawsuits reveal "illegal side agreements" as well as numerous other non-contractual and illegal dealings with officials of the country's last government.
About half of the contracts reportedly were awarded the day the privatisation deal was signed.
Source: www.lloydslist.com, July 19 2004


Dynacom plans IPO on NYSE
---In the wake of last week's announcement that Top Tankers was filing a plan to list on the NASDAQ with the US SEC, another Greek tanker and LNG company, Dynacom Tankers, wants to explore the opportunity to list on the NYSE. No firm plans have been filed, but the company is seriously considering an IPO. With assets of $2.5B, Dynacom expressed that in order to have available the funds necessary to staying competitive, they see the need for a public listing. The company today has a fleet that includes 12 VLCCs, 10 suezmaxes, 10 aframaxes and 2 panamaxes and has ordered 3 LNG ships with delivery in 2007 and 2008.
Source: www.marinemoney.com, Freshly Minted weekly, 15 Jul 04


Greek Oil, LNG Shipping Co Mulls Listing In New York
---ATHENS (Dow Jones)--The founder and chairman of Greek oil-shipping company Dynacom Tankers Management Ltd. says he may float the business on the New York Stock Exchange to help fund expansion in the tanker and potentially lucrative liquefied natural gas businesses.
George Procopiou, in an interview with Dow Jones Newswires, says the company hasn't yet taken any concrete steps to go public and has no timeframe for floating the business, but suggests such a move might be inevitable.
"It's true we cannot compete the way other public companies can the way we are going now," Procopiou says. "On the other hand, going public is a way to have other people invest."
A banker familiar with Dynacom Tankers says it would be in the top 30% of publicly traded tanker companies if listed in New York.
"It would be helpful in terms of having access to capital to grow their fleet, " says Anthony Argyropoulos, a New York-based managing director with DZ Financial Markets. "They have a very modern fleet of tankers and have entered into the LNG sector. Clearly, these are very high-capital items. George does understand the limitations of growing the company with his own resources."
Good Year For Tankers
Strong global demand for crude oil has substantially improved tanker companies' performance this year, raising share prices. The Jefferies Tanker Stock Index is up 81.7% so far this year.
While some of Dynacom's Greece-based competitors are listed on the New York Stock Exchange, no tanker owner has recently tried to capitalize on the current wave of profitability in the sector via an IPO. The time to do so may be right, says Sidoti & Company LLC analyst Natasha Boyden in New York.
"Shipping's hot right now," she says. "It's got a great buzz, the rates are strong, and a lot of people on Wall Street are interested."
Stelmar Shipping Ltd. (SJH) launched its initial public offering in March 2001, and Tsakos Energy Navigation (TNP) listed on the NYSE in March 2002. Both companies' Web sites say they used the proceeds to expand their fleets.
A shipping-finance company and a barge company are among the latest in the sector to go public, but no tanker owner has recently stepped forward.
Procopiou says the NYSE is the exchange best suited for a Dynacom Tankers IPO because of the liquidity it offers.
"Nobody else can compete or offer the same support and volume as the New York Stock Exchange," he said. "Let's hope that we manage to do it."
Procopiou may not be a household name the way Onassis was, but he's built a respectable presence today among Greece's shipping giants.
Dynacom Tankers' tanker fleet has a much larger carrying capacity than Stelmar's or Tsakos'. Its fleet has a capacity of about 5.5 million deadweight tons and will rise to more than 6.6 million deadweight tons when Dynacom has taken possession of all its ships under construction, including three new LNG carriers. Dynacom has $2.5 billion in assets, Procopiou says.
Dynacom has 31 ships in operation and has ordered the construction of 15 new ships. Its fleet now includes 12 very large crude carriers, or VLCCs, each capable of loading around 2 million barrels of oil. Its smaller-size vessels include 10 Suezmax, seven Aframax and two Panamax tankers in operation, Procopiou says.
Dynacom Tankers Management is headquartered in Athens, with offices in Bombay and New Delhi, Singapore, Fujaira in the United Arab Emirates, and some representation in Beijing.
As he tallies his ships by vessel class, Procopiou announces he bought another supertanker overnight. "You have to be competitive to survive," he says.
Tapping Russian Oil, Global LNG
Dynacom has six ice-class vessels capable of loading oil at arctic ports in Russia and breaking up the ice floes en route to market.
As Russian oil production this year challenges Saudi Arabia, the world's long- time largest oil producer, Procopiou and some of his shipping rivals are looking to capitalize on the growth and recent corporate tie-ups with Western companies, which could eventually expand Russian oil trade with U.S. companies. For example, the TNK-BP (TNKB.YY) joint venture of BP PLC (BP)'s Russian assets and Russia's Tyumen Oil Co. (TNKO.RS) last year created Russia's third-largest oil producer. ConocoPhillips (COP) also sold 1,800 gasoline stations in the U.S. last year to Russia's Lukoil, and the two companies work together in Russian Northern Territories oil development.
Dynacom also is venturing into the liquefied natural gas carrier market, having ordered three new LNG ships for delivery in 2007-2008, ahead of gas- industry plans for major expansion of LNG terminals around the world.
"LNG, I consider the fuel of the future," Procopiou says. "If we want to keep enjoying the lifestyle that the world is used to, we must find alternative and cleaner energy, because more and more people on this planet want to share the benefits of this affluent use of energy."
Analysts have put the average value today of new LNG carriers at $170 million a ship.
Despite his objection to international regulations requiring older single-hull tankers to be phased out by 2010, Procopiou has moved aggressively to modernize Dynacom's fleet. He says he sold 36 vessels of the old configuration within 30 months. Dynacom's fleet now averages less than 10 years old and will average less than six years old once the company takes delivery of all of its newly built ships, Procopiou says. By comparison, the world's tanker fleet averages nearly 13 years of age, according to tanker owners.
Procopiou has been in shipping for 34 years, though he was educated as a civil engineer. He started his business with one small ship, financed by Citibank, he says.
"He's somebody who started very modestly with very small, multipurpose vessels," Argyropoulos says. "His engineering background has been extremely helpful in being able to run a very old fleet - up until recently - very efficiently. He'd buy them cheap and was able to maintain an extremely high- quality fleet at a very low cost."
Source: http://news.morningstar.com, 07-13-04 04:32 PM EST,


UPDATE 1-JP Morgan starts Greek banks at "overweight"
---ATHENS, July 14 (Reuters) - JP Morgan started coverage of Greece's banking sector with an overweight rating, it said in a research note on Wednesday.
Alpha Bank , Piraeus Bank , National and EFG Eurobank were rated "overweight", with Emporiki Bank given an "underweight".
"Given our expectation of strong revenue growth, a controlled cost base, improving profitability and a healthy economy, we believe the fundamentals for the sector are highly attractive," the bank said in a note.
"Currently, the Greek banks are enjoying not only the strongest loan growth in Europe, but also improving margins, with a more profitable retail-driven asset mix and a solid asset quality," it added.
JP Morgan set Alpha and National's price target at 24 euros, Eurobank and Emporiki at 22 euros and Piraeus at 12.5 euros.
"National is our top pick. Our second-preferred stock is Eurobank followed by Alpha. Of the smaller banks, we like Piraeus," JP Morgan added.
Source: www.reuters.co.uk, Wed 14 July, 2004 10:38


Ingledow forms executive services firm
---Cruise industry veteran Shelagh Ingledow -- for the past 13 years the personal assistant to Festival Cruises founder and chairman George Poulides -- has formed her own executive services firm in Piraeus.
'Within Reach' provides offices, a boardroom, computer equipment and Internet access, a professional assistant, secretarial and translation services, public relations expertise and events organization. Personalized travel arrangements, VIP hospitality and other services are also available.
Ingledow, a UK national who has been based in Greece for the past 20 years, has spent much of her career working closely with the top executives of international corporations. Besides English, she speaks fluent Greek and conversational Italian. Her new company handles services in Greece and abroad through a network of international contacts.
Ingledow's industry career began with Thomson Cruises in the 1970s before she moved to Epirotiki, working as assistant cruise director on seven ships. She served 14 years at Sun Line, joining as on-board program coordinator, hostess and cruise consultant before moving to the Piraeus office as the assistant to chairman Maurizio Keusseoglou.
Ingledow signed on at Festival's 1991 inception as Poulides' assistant. She was responsible for myriad duties, including organising the christenings of Mistral, European Vision and European Stars, planning shipboard receptions for Prince Rainier of Monaco and Cuban officials including Fidel Castro, and coordinating the G8 summit on the European Vision, which drew world leaders like Silvio Berlusconi, Vladimir Putin, Jacques Chirac and Tony Blair.
Within Reach is not focused on the shipping business but rather seeks to serve the wider commercial sector, Ingledow said. However, it's likely she will gain cruise clients during the upcoming Athens Olympics, when Piraeus harbor is jammed with ships. 'Should my services be needed by any of them, I shall be more than happy to oblige. After all, we are only 150 meters away from them -- literally "Within Reach,"' she quipped. The office is at 97 Akti Miaouli.
Contact: sdi@withinreachgr.com.
His LAST blow it left Saturday from it was stopped heart in age of 64 years, the megaloefopljsti's Stama'tis Re'stis. The a lot petyhime'nos businessman created, in the duration of his life one "empire". Today the group Re'sti checks more from 70 boats. In 1974 the Stama'tis Re'stis, that was considered one of the leading Greek businessmen, founded the shipping company Enterprises Shipping and Trading. The company manages a fleet from 21 boats (bulkers and reefers (refrigerators of)) total capacity of 3,5 millions of tons, while his other companies activate themselves in the South Africa.
The group has also the company Golden Energy with which it entered dynamically in the market of tankers. More specifically it has signed contracts on shipbuilding 10 tankers. His funeral will become in narrow familial circle.
Source: seatrade cruise community website, 14/7/2004