Greek Shipping News Cuts
Week 17 - 2005
---Merchant Marine Minister Manolis Kefaloyiannis on Wednesday paid a visit to the port of Piraeus, where he boarded one of the ferries departing for Iraklio, Crete to wish passengers and crew a safe trip and happy Easter.
As he left the ship, Kefaloyiannis stressed the importance of the special measures taken for the Easter period for passengers, noting that both the coast guard and the merchant marine ministry have been placed on alert to ensure the best and safest transportation of thousands of expected ferry passengers.
The Merchant Marine Ministry said that some 40,000 passengers and 6,500 cars had sailed from the ports of Piraeus and Rafina on Wednesday alone.
Source: www.ana.gr, Friday 29, April 2005
EU again asks Greece to deregulate coastal shipping
---In a second warning letter, dated April 19, the European Commission called on the Greek government to fully deregulate the domestic sea transport sector, and recognized the right of companies to determine the number of seamen working on each vessel, depending on the time period and the number of economy-class passengers.
In the letter, the Commission argues that the Greek authorities' interpretation of the concept of crew composition is restrictive and constitutes an impediment to shipping companies regarding the way they intend to provide their services to users.
This position effectively vindicates coastal shipping companies, which have long asked for the right to determine the number of crew depending on season, company requirements and the services they wish to provide.
For its part, the Merchant Marine Ministry considers crew composition a serious political and social issue.
"The interpretation adopted by the Greek authorities to the issue of crew composition reflects their desire to secure safety in navigation and the employment of Greek seamen," a ministry source said.
In another issue raised in the letter, the Commission also disputes the compatibility with Community legislation of Greek Presidential Decree 101/95, which deals with matters of accommodation, ratios of economy-class passengers, and items sold in canteens and their prices.
In its first warning letter, dated February 3, 2004, the Commission asked Greece to amend points in Law 2932/2001 which required coastal shipping operators to maintain public utility standards on all routes, to furnish letters of guarantee for such services, and to ensure that all crew members spoke Greek. Also, it wants foreign-based coastal shipping operators to appoint representatives and open offices in Greece, and that vessels in service be subject to an age limit.
"I am certain that the government is aware of the seriousness of the situation, and will proceed directly to amend Law 2932/2001 and clarify what free competition means and where the state has the right to intervene to ensure the provision of a public service," said New Democracy party MP Miltiades Varvitsiotis.
Separately, the Commission renewed until April 25, 2010 a block exemption allowing shipping companies to enter into consortium agreements covering the maritime transport of cargo to or from one or more EU ports. The block exemption, first adopted in 1995 and renewed in 2000, automatically covers liner shipping consortia which have a market share below 30 percent. Under the relevant regulation, all agreements (except those on price fixing) whose objective is the joint operation of liner shipping services are exempted from the Maastricht treaty's ban on restrictive business practices (Article 81), provided they fulfill the conditions and obligations in the regulation. The exemption does not cover the transport of passengers.
Source: By Nikos Bardounias - Kathimerini, 27 Apr 2004
Greece leads opposition to EC plan to grab IMO power
---Greece, Malta, Cyprus and Germany, Europe's largest shipping nations and Denmark, one of the most influential, are leading the voices opposed to the European Commission's plan to grab power within Imo. Greece, Malta and Cyprus are especially opposed to the EC's plan to rob countries of their national voice within Imo while Germany and Denmark have joined them in saying they are sceptical about the EC's desire to represent the entire 25-strong EU in Imo.
The Greek government has made its opposition to the EC plan clear and a Union of Greek Shipowners (UGS) delegation to Brussels May 18-19 will emphasise the industry's opposition during meetings with EC Transport commissioner, Jacques Barrot and EU shipping representatives.
When the issue was introduced under "any other business" at the Transport ministers meeting April 21, the Luxembourg presidency did not favour any discussion.
While the five countries were able to go on record as opposing Brussels' plan, insiders say only France, the home of Barrot, is openly in favour with other states said to be opposed. The EC hopes an agreement can be reached in June at the Transport minister meeting before Luxembourg hands over the EU presidency to the UK.
"We are against this and we saw no reason why we should change a gentlemen's agreement going back to 1994 that member states should have independence in Imo," said Ioannis Tzoannos, Greek Marine ministry secretary general. "Imo cannot accept the EU as a bloc," declared Tzoannos.
The Greek Shipping Co-operation Committee believes the proposal is "against the rights, interests and sovereignty of member states and would put a spanner in the works of the democratic process and effectiveness of Imo.
Source: www.newsfront.gr 29 April 2005 Vol. 6 / No. 16
Greek listings fail to float
---SPECIAL legislation giving shipping access to the Athens stock market has been in place for five years but the Greek government's ambition of attracting listings from Greek shipping companies remains unfulfilled; there has not been a single flotation. Now another, more radical, amendment is planned by the government after a recent spate of Greek shipping IPOs in the US. "It is unacceptable for the Greek shipping stock to trade in New York and elsewhere, but not at home," said shipping minister Manolis Kefaloyannis. Outlining the changes, Kefaloyannis revealed that shipping companies based abroad would be eligible for listing if they accepted Greek jurisdiction. Currently, only Greece-based companies are eligible. Another current requirement that two-thirds of the fleet must be registered in the EU is to be scrapped. However, it is doubtful whether the new rules will attract any of the big Greek owners, who regard the Athens bourse as too small for their fund-raising needs. In addition, the prospect of public accountability - which is at odds with Greek shipowners' traditional secretiveness - constitutes another serious deterrent for them.
Source: Newswatch, Fairplay International Shipping Weekly,28 Apr 2005
High charter rates play their part as DryShips surges
---Expanded fleet compared with last year and 100% utilisation of the vessels are listed as other factors in 80% improvement, writes Nigel Lowry in Athens- Thursday April 28 2005
ATHENS company DryShips lifted profits by 80% in the first quarter, its first results since the company's initial public offering on the Nasdaq exchange in February.
The fast expanding dry bulk operator announced net income of $19.1m against $10.6m in the first three months of 2004.
Increased earnings can be attributed to higher average charter rates, an expanded fleet compared with last year and 100% utilisation of the fleet.
Voyage revenues for the quarter grew from $17m in the same period last year to $29.4m, with average time charter equivalent rates rising significantly to $35,453 per vessel daily.
Although DryShips ended the period with a fleet of 17 ships, 11 of these were delivered in the first quarter and the average number of ships, 8.6, represented an increase on six over the same quarter last year.
At present the George Economou-helmed company owns a fleet of 23 bulkers and has agreements to acquire a further four.
After these have been delivered, the company says it will be the second largest panamax operator in the world after Chinese giant Cosco, with 21 ships, as well as having four capesizes and two handymax vessels.
Discussing the results in a conference call yesterday, management said it had calculated its break-even point for this year was a fleet average charter rate of $18,758 daily per vessel.
Mr Economou disclosed that eight vessels were at present operating in the Baumarine pool.
But he added that the company wanted to keep a balance between pool vessels and ships commercially operated by itself.
The pool had outperformed the market by $1,000 a day last year and by $3,000 a day in the recent first quarter. But the pool's performance was still being monitored, Mr Economou said. The chairman and chief executive said that the chartering strategy in the medium term was to keep a split of the fleet at about 60-40 in favour of spot chartering.
However, because of a recent decline in bulk carrier freights, he added: "Our intention is to keep most on the spot side and I do not think we will enter into more period employment until the market picks up again."
Mr Economou added: "My personal view is that this will happen as we enter summer."
"The potential earnings for the dry bulk sector still remain very positive," Mr Economou concluded.
Top Tankers in $300 Million Convertible
---The highly acquisitive, and therefore capital-hungry, Top Tankers announced last night that it intends to privately place up to $300 million aggregate principal amount of Series A Cumulative Convertible Preferred Stock, convertible into shares of the company's common stock. Top also plans to grant to the initial purchaser of the convertible preferred stock an option to purchase up to an additional $45 million aggregate principal amount of preferred shares. Top's "house" investment bank Cantor Fitzgerald has been mandated on the deal.
Use of Proceeds - Ships and Delta Hedge
The company intends to use $250 million of the proceeds to fund vessel acquisitions, including the $475 million acquisition of the Nomikos fleet and another $95 million to acquire two doublehulled tankers.
Top will also use $50 million of the proceeds to buy common stock while Kingdom Holdings, which owns about 15% of the company's shares and is controlled by members of the Pistiolis family, has agreed to purchase another $20 million of the common stock.
This total of $70 million will likely be acquired by the purchaser ofthe convertible preferred securities, who would then short the stockto create a "Delta Hedge." This is not unlike what OMI did whenit used a corporate share repurchase program to facilitate its recentconvertible bond issued through Jefferies.
Although shares held by Evangelos Pistiolis, through an entity called Sovereign Holdings, are locked up until July 18, 2005, the lock-up for shares held by Kingdom Holdings expired on January 19, 2005. $10.2 million, payable together with the last installment. The interest rate on the DVB credit facility is 125 basis points over LIBOR. Beginning on the date of the credit facility and ending on the final drawdown date, Top will pay the lender a quarterly fee of 0.25% of the average undrawn amount of the loan for the quarter.
Why They Did It
So why did Top Tankers move into the world of financial exotica rather than simply issuing another round of common stock? There are several reasons. For one thing, the continued issuance of equity used for dilutive acquisitions ultimately erodes shareholder value and therefore is not popular among holders, though we do not intend to suggest that this is the case here. Although investors can understand that sometimes a premium must be paid for certain transformational transactions, they don't like to see it done over and over. That's why we thought Top would turn to the highly attractive high yield bond market to finance the Nomikos acquisition.
Source: www.marinemoney.com, Freshly Minted, 27 Apr 2005
Diana reaps sixfold profits
---Newly US-listed Greek company Diana Shipping is turning heads.
Diana Shipping has posted a stellar performance in its debut set of results since listing on the New York Stock Exchange last month.
The Athens-based company saw 2004 full-year profits jump to $60.1m, as compared to the net income of $9.5m achieved in the previous year.
Revenues for 2004 were $63.8m from an average fleet of 6.3 ships. In contrast, Diana booked revenues of $25.3m in 2003 when its fleet averaged 5.1 vessels.
The sharp increase in earnings was attributed primarily to higher voyage and time-charter revenues, as well as on the sale of a bulker in October.
Diana's fleet enjoyed an average time-charter equivalent (TCE) rate of $25,661 per day during the whole of 2004, while in 2003 the average TCE was $12,812 per day.
The Greek shipowner was buoyed by a particularly strong fourth quarter, with net profits of $31.6m, as compared with $3.4m in the same quarter a year ago.
However, Diana's 2004 fourth-quarter results were boosted by the one-off gain of nearly $20m from the sale of the 73,000-dwt bulker newbuilding Amfitrite .
The fourth-quarter average TCE was $26,722 per day in 2004, as compared with $14,772 per day for the same period for 2003.
On future prospects, Diana expects the average TCE in the first quarter of 2005 to be about 15% higher than that for the fourth quarter of 2004.
Source: www.tradewinds.no, By Dale Wainwright , Singapore published: 29 April 2005
TEN Limited - Realizing $10.5 Million Capital Gain
--- Tsakos Energy Navigation Limited (TEN) (NYSE: TNP) today announced the purchase of Aframax contract H/N 1334 from Sumitomo Heavy Industries Marine & Eng. Co. Ltd. and the simultaneous sale of Aframax contract H/N 1224 from Sanoyas Hishimo Meisho Corporation. H/N 1334 is the sistership to the Aframax that TEN is currently building at the same yard and is expected to be delivered in August 2007.
H/N 1224 was acquired on November 2004 with expected delivery in June 2005 and its sale should generate a net profit of approximately $10.5 million, to be recognised in the second quarter. This leaves TEN's orderbook unaltered at thirteen orders, eleven in Korean yards, of which one is an LNG, and two in Japanese yards.
"The very profitable sale of H/N 1224 with the simultaneous ordering of a replacement Aframax, at a lower cost, highlights management's strategy to engage in selective sale and purchase activity as an integral part of operations in order to enhance shareholder value," Mr. Nikolas P. Tsakos, President & CEO of TEN stated.
Since the beginning of 2004 TEN has disposed of seven vessels totaling 486,000 dwt contributing $45.0 million in capital gains and has taken delivery of three vessels and placed a further ten newbuilding orders with 1.39 million dwt combined capacity. The ten orders were placed in addition to the five newbuildings that were ordered in 2003.
Source: Press Release Source: Tsakos Energy Navigation Limited, Thursday April 28, 8:30 am ET
Genmar Financial Review: 2005 First Quarter
---The Company had net income of $68.5 million, or $1.84 basic and $1.80 diluted earnings per share, for the three months ended March 31, 2005 compared to net income of $78.3 million, or $2.12 basic and $2.08 diluted earnings per share, for the three months ended March 31, 2004. The decrease in net income was the result of slightly lower spot charter rates during the first quarter relative to the first quarter of 2004 and decreased utilization of our fleet due to a heavy 2005 drydocking schedule.
Peter C. Georgiopoulos, Chairman, Chief Executive and President, commented, "The first quarter was a significant one for General Maritime. We continued to record strong results and have declared the Company's first dividend, representing an important milestone in our history. We are pleased to have rewarded our shareholders with a sizeable cash dividend while preserving the Company's ability to both grow and renew its fleet. As we continue to take advantage of a strong tanker market, we look forward to drawing upon our significant earnings power for the future benefit of shareholders. Building upon our past success, we will also explore additional consolidation opportunities aimed at further solidifying our industry leadership."
Net voyage revenue, which is gross voyage revenues minus voyage expenses unique to a specific voyage (including port, canal and fuel costs), decreased 9.1% to $133.4 million for the three months ended March 31, 2005 compared to $146.7 million for the three months ended March 31, 2004. EBITDA for the three months ended March 31, 2005 was $101.4 million compared to $113.7 million for the three months ended March 31, 2004. Net cash provided by operating activities was $99.8 million for the three months ended March 31, 2005 compared to $91.3 million for the prior year period (please see below for a reconciliation of EBITDA to net income). As of March 31, 2005 the Company's net debt to book capitalization (calculated as net debt divided by net debt plus shareholders equity) stood at 26.3% compared to 33.1% as of December 31, 2004.
The average daily time charter equivalent, or TCE, rates obtained by the Company's fleet decreased by 3.9% to $37,334 per day for the three months ended March 31, 2005 from $38,847 for the prior year period. The Company's average rates for vessels on spot charters decreased by 8.4% to $43,335 for the three months ended March 31, 2005 compared to $47,310 for the prior year period.
Total vessel operating expenses, which are direct vessel operating expenses and general and administrative expenses, decreased 3.0% to $32.0 million for the three months ended March 31, 2005 from $33.0 million for the three months ended March 31, 2004. During the same periods, the average size of General Maritime's fleet increased 1.4% to 43 vessels from 42.4 vessels. Total daily vessel operating expenses decreased 3.5% to $8,267 per vessel day during the first quarter of 2005 from $8,567 per vessel day during the same period in 2004. Daily direct vessel operating expenses continued to drop due to our cost cutting initiatives started in 2004. Our daily vessel operating expenses dropped 22.1% to $5,360 for the quarter ended March 31, 2005 compared to $6,878 for the prior year period. General and administrative costs increased compared to the prior year period due to costs associated with having our office in Portugal, compensation expense, professional fees associated with Sarbanes-Oxley Section 404 compliance as well as expenses related to our new corporate headquarters in Manhattan.
Mr. Georgiopoulos continued, "During the first quarter, General Maritime maintained its intense focus on preserving the Company's strong capital structure. We are pleased to have utilized the cash flow generated from our sizeable fleet to further de-leverage General Maritime's balance sheet, resulting in one of the lowest net debt to capital ratios in the Company's history. The Company's focus on achieving a strong and flexible financial position continues to enable General Maritime to enter into value creating transactions for shareholders. The initiation of a cash dividend is the most recent example of this success."
Source: Press release, 27 Apr 2005
HHI to build world's largest LPG ships for Latsis
---Hyundai Heavy Industries Co., Ltd. (HHI) says it has secured orders worth $280 million from Latsis Group member CMM of Greece, for three 82,000 cubic meter capacity LPG tankers.
With dimensions of 225 m length, 36.6 m beam and 22 m depth, these are the largest LPG carriers thus far built. Service speed will be 16.75 knots and delivery is set for 2008.d.
Following an order for two similar vessels from a Norwegian company at the beginning of this month, HHI's current order back log of LPG carriers increased to 11 this year, or 17 in total, which is over 60 percent of the world's LPG carrier market.
HHI expects brisk demand of the LPG carriers to continue. It will strive to maintain a leading position while gaining recognition for its construction capabilities and technological abilities from shipping companies worldwide.
Source: http://www.marinelog.com, April 25, 2005
Greek partner in Edda Gas