Greek Shipping News Cuts
Week 36 - 2004
---Greek ferry operators continue to struggle, with many in the sector claiming the first six months of 2004 the most difficult in 20 years. Analysts say that while the Athens 2004 Olympic Games will, in the longer run, result in a substantial 'dowry' for the Piraeus port and the country as a whole, the actual event did not only fail to generate the tourist movement anticipated but acted as a curb on tourism.
Movement of tourists was poor as visitors stayed put, wishing to experience Athens and the Olympic atmosphere. Analysts also point out that the tough security measures discouraged "spontaneous travel" while at the sametime giving the impression that people were targets of terrorism.
Higher ship operating costs were also a burden, especially the tremendous increase in the cost of fuel.
Kefaloyiannis also believes the first-class infrastructure now in place makes Piraeus an ideal cruise port. He says the experience gained from the Olympic Games offers "a wonderful opportunity to again start the development of Piraeus as a major cruise port".
Meanwhile, the problems facing the passenger sector are underlined as the ferry companies announce their trading results for the first six months of the year. Of the operators listed on the Athens Stock Exchange, only the Attica Holdings group - formerly Attica Enterprises - improved results compared to 2003, and the sale of vessels was a key here. Likewise, ship sales helped Blue Star Maritime while Minoan Lines of Crete had better results but was still a loss maker as were Anek Lines and NEL.
Source: www.newsfront.gr, 3 Sep 04
Olympic boost for Piraeus
---Games' traffic sees port authority post a 7% rise in turnover, writes Nigel Lowry- Friday September 03 2004
PIRAEUS container throughput, boosted by the Athens Olympics, helped the half-year financial performance of Greece's major port.
The increase in business was attributed mainly to higher traffic at the port's container terminal, with an upswing in both transit traffic and national trade, with the Olympics having had a positive impact on import traffic.
An indication of the scale of shipping requirements generated by the Athens Olympics, by many measures the largest ever, was this week provided by German-based logistics company Schenker, the official freight forwarder and customs clearance provider for the event.
Schenker disclosed it was handling about 2,000 tonnes of airfreight, 1,000 sea containers, 1,000 full truck loads from all over Europe and about 100 railcars.
For the media coverage alone, the firm said about 11,000 personal computers, 600 servers and 2,000 printers were installed, mostly arriving by air. Some of the equipment is also being shipped back.
"The services for Athens are a new landmark in the history of Schenker," commented Thomas Lieb, a member of the Board of Schenker AG. "Athens represented an enormous challenge for our global teams and is also an obligation for future events, to turn in our best performance."
Logistical support also had to be performed in the passenger harbour of Piraeus port where a flotilla of cruise ships berthed as floating hotels for the duration of the Olympics.
Shipping services group Inchcape claimed to have set a "world record" for a single shipping agency on August 11 when it turned around three large cruise vessels in just over 12 hours.
The operation involved more than 12,000 items of luggage and transferring more than 3,100 passengers from the Queen Mary 2 , Westerdam and Rotterdam , Inchcape said.
Source: www.lloydslist.com, 3 Sep 04
Higher stakes on tourism
---Gov't plans upgrades, institute warns against resting on Olympic laurels
The Tourism Ministrysays its strategy includesupgrading the picture andoperation of Greece's ports, aimed atimproving the network of transport communications.
The government is drawing up plans to improve the picture and operation of ports and airports with a view to bolstering the tourism industry, Deputy Tourism Minister Anastassios Liaskos said yesterday.
The plans "envisage a strengthening of sea and air transport connections throughout the country, particularly of the island areas and in the summer months, so as to facilitate the balanced development of tourism," Liaskos told the international conference on transport and technology and their contribution to the tourism industry (TRANSTEC 2004), held at the Athens Hilton.
Liaskos said the ministry is planning a strategy for transportation facilities with other ministries, which includes the construction of new airports, as in Naxos and Tripolis, the speeding up of major roadworks such the Egnatia highway across northern Greece, the western axis which includes the new Rio-Antirio bridge, and the central Greece axis that will improve access to the Egnatia from the south.
He said that Greece will also undertake an initiative in the European Union for the conversion of the E10 axis from Munich to Thessaloniki into a limited access highway, with a view to boosting traffic inflows to the resorts of northern Greece and winter tourism in the islands of the northern Aegean.
Further provision will be made for financing connections between the Egnatia project and the capitals of the neighboring countries - under the framework of the Greek Plan for the Economic Reconstruction of the Balkans - and small local projects that will upgrade the quality of tourism for motorists, particularly in the most popular sites.
The Institute of Tourism Research and Forecasting (ITEP) said in a statement that tapping the benefits of the successful staging of the Olympic Games for the Greek tourism industry will require specific initiatives and actions.
"The Olympic Games can work as 'automatic pilot' (for the industry) only in the short term and for 'low flights.' If the problems that made a promising sector problematic are not solved, the industry will return to a declining mode in the year after next. Direct competitors, indeed, in the midst of many terrorist attacks that target foreigners, are achieving phenomenal rates of growth in tourism. This is because they take care of the quality of their product, which they offer at a price justified by its quality - without Olympic Games, without unique islands, without a comparable cultural tradition," said ITEP.
Further, it warns that the government must be protected from the dangerous illusions caused by the "splendid" Olympic Games.
"Enthusiasms of this kind are particularly dangerous, especially in these difficult fiscal times. The country must act, in terms of policy, as if the Olympic Games had not taken place. Otherwise, the game will be lost. The only hope left will be the merchant marine, which, despite its admirable performance, will not suffice to maintain even a moderate growth rate," said ITEP.
Source: www.ekathimerini.com, 3 Sep 04
Modion orders chem tankers at Samho yard
---Modion Maritime Management of Greece has sealed a newbuilding deal with Samho Shipbuilding of Korea for up to six 12,800-dwt chemical tankers.
Modion executive Harry Tsatsakis confirms it has ordered four firm ships with delivery in 2007. The deal includes two options with delivery in 2008. Tsatsakis says the IMO II/III tankers are costing around $17m each.
In late July, Modion was reported to have been in talks with Samho for the ships at a price of $16m each.
This is a new venture for Modion, which until now has been a dry-cargo player. Tsatsakis says it has been looking to buy secondhand tonnage but decided to go for newbuildings because of new rules for the sector that take affect within the next few years.
Meanwhile, on the bulker side, Modion has emerged as the buyer of the 46,000-dwt New Generation (built 1994). Tsatsakis says Modion took delivery of the ship last week. It has been fixed on a five-to-six month period charter in the high $28,000s per day and will be renamed Minoan Pride.
The bulker was reported sold in late June for around $17m and linked with Gleamray Maritime of Greece.
The price level of the sale was interpreted by some as an indication of a downturn in handymax prices.
Brokers suggested the ship could have raised around $22m if it had been sold at the top of the market in March or April.
Source: www.tradewinds.no, Yiota Gousas Athens, published: 03 September 2004
DANE Sea lines on verge of collapse
Source: Fairplay Daily News, 31 Aug 2004
Royal Olympic Cruise Lines receives extension from greek court
---Royal Olympic Cruise Lines announced today that the Greek Court administrating the Section 45 proceeding regarding its subsidiaries has issued a decision to extend the period of time for the company to present a restructuring plan consented to by 51% of its creditors until November 27, 2004.
Royal Olympic Cruise Lines is currently operating two cruise ships under the protection of Article 45 of the Greek Courts. Discussions with creditors and lenders continue and the company continues to seek capital needed to continue operations of the company.
This press release contains forward-looking statements. Forward-looking statements can be identified in many cases by the use of terms such as "may," "will," "should," "expect," "intend," "plan," "anticipate," "believe," "estimate," "predict," "continue," or other terms. These statements are based on assumptions that are inherently subject to significant uncertainties and contingencies that are difficult or impossible to predict and are beyond our control and may cause our business activities and results, including the results of any discussion between Royal Olympic and creditors of the debtors, to be materially different from those that are implied by the forward-looking statements. Although we believe that the expectation expressed in our forward-looking statement are reasonable, we cannot assure you of any further business activity or result.
Source: Royal Olympic Cruise Lines, Piraeus, Greece, Aug. 31 -
Greek-flag crude oil tanker hits New Orleans ferry terminal
---THE Greek-flag, 98,880 dwt crude oil tanker Astro Altair hit a ferry terminal in New Orleans on Sunday, reportedly putting it out of operation for two weeks.
According to local press reports the vessel "lost steering" and veered into the structure. It is thought the terminal will be out of action for at least two weeks. The Louisiana Department of Transportation and Development says it is does not yet know how much repairs will cost but it plans to claim damages from the ships operator Kristen Navigation.
The ship is entered with the West of England P&I club. Reports say there were no injuries and no pollution.
The ABS-classed vessel was detained in Trieste in February last year, following a port state control inspection, for 1 day for 12 deficiencies.
Source: www.mgn.com, 3 Sep 04
TOP Tankers announces delivery of seventh vessel in series of ten
---TOP Tankers Inc (Nasdaq: TOPT), announced today that it took delivery of M/T Sovereign, a 47,084 Dwt, ice-classed, double-hull Handymax tanker, built in 1992 by Halla Engineering & Heavy Industries Limited of the Republic of Korea.
As with all the Company's Handymax tankers, the vessel will immediately commence its 2-year profit-sharing employment contract with a major oil trader.
The delivery of the M/T Sovereign represents the seventh of ten double-hull tankers the Company is acquiring using the proceeds of its initial public offering announced on July 23, 2004.
This seventh delivery increases the size of the fleet to 14 tankers, consisting of 2 Suezmax tankers, 9 Handymax tankers and 3 Handysize tankers.
About TOP Tankers Inc
TOP Tankers Inc is an international provider of worldwide seaborne crude oil and petroleum products transportation services. Upon delivery of all 10 vessels, the company will own and operate a fleet of 17 tankers, consisting of 4 Suezmax tankers, 10 Handymax tankers and 3 Handysize tankers, with a total carrying capacity of approximately 1.14 million Dwt.
Source: Press Release, Athens, Greece, Aug. 31, 2004
Pistiolis is professional, poised on first conference call
---President and CEO Evangelos Pistiolis has stepped up as an able CEO. Together with CFO Stamatis Tsantanis, Pistiolis emanated a very business-like air in the company's first-ever quarterly results conference call. Aside from a couple minor comments by Pistiolis on the company's "huge transformation" and vessel delivery having "exceeded expectations," the pair stuck almost entirely to the quantitative aspects of their achievement. Tsantanis noted that revenue per operating day was up while expenses were down and that total operating days were up significantly. This correllates to the growing size of Top Tankers' fleet, which increased from an average of 3.2 tankers in 1Q03 to an average of 5.2 tankers in 1Q04 to and 14 currently with a total of 17 on the horizon.
Growth will likely slow once the 17-vessel mark is hit, although the company is rumored to have agreed to purchase a Brazil built Suezmax. In response to a question from Mike Drickamer of Hibernia Southcoast, which has since initiated coverage of TOPT with a BUY rating, management conceded that today's high prices make it quite difficult to find ships, although they also noted that second hand ships do offer a somewhat more attractive prospect. The pair also noted that they expect tanker rates to firm up for the traditionally strong winter season, but reaffirmed that they would stick to the plan in the Prospectus and wait until the 4th quarter, when there entire fleet is to be operable, to pay dividends. When asked by Passport Capital's Walter Lovato, TOPT management projected total capital expenditures for 2H04 to be $9.4 million.
Source: www.marinemoney.com, 3 Sep 2004
S&P revises outlook on Greek Piraeus Bank
---Standard & Poor's Ratings Services said today that it has revised its outlook on Greek Piraeus Bank S.A. to positive from stable.
At the same time, the 'BBB' long-term and 'A-2' short-term counterparty credit ratings were affirmed. "The outlook revision reflects sustained improvements in the bank's financial performance," said Standard & Poor's credit analyst Elena Iparraguirre. The ratings balance Piraeus' good market position, successful growth strategy, sound capitalization, and prospects of improving financial performance with its still-high operating costs (which limit bottom-line profits) and riskier asset quality than that of EU peers. The positive outlook reflects the bank's improving profitability trend and expectations of a continued strengthening of financial performance, benefiting from ongoing business expansion. "An upgrade would depend on Piraeus' ability to achieve and sustain a level of profitability more in line with its risk profile," added Ms. Iparraguirre.
"In addition, the bank would have to make further progress in asset quality, not only advancing in the clean-up of its old nonperforming-loan portfolio, but also ensuring that asset quality does not significantly deteriorate once Greece's benign operating environment of the past few years reverses." Further evidence of the underlying credit quality of the large share of loans originated in recent years will also be necessary prior to any upgrade. The positive outlook assumes that the bank's core capitalization--albeit declining--will be preserved at an appropriate level and that its wholesale funding needs will be properly managed. Standard & Poor's will continue monitoring Piraeus' international expansion strategy, particularly in the high-risk Balkans.
Source: Statement was released by the rating agency, London, 1 September 2004