Greek Shipping News Cuts
Week 25 - 2005

 

Marine Money spotlight falls on the Greeks

---Greeks and their exploits were to the fore at the recent Marine Money Week conference in New York. From the opening welcome June 13 to closing remarks, Greek owners and Greek shipping deals were in the spotlight. Speculation was rampant: What deals are getting done? Who's in the queue? With $1bn worth of shipping deals currently on the road, and $4bn expected by the end of the year, there was plenty to talk about.
Indeed, out in force Greeks dominated the discussion, in the conference room, on the capital markets, and on the high seas.
Tor Olav Troim stirred controversy when he wondered aloud why Frontline couldn't get Genmar's Peter Georgiopoulous to discuss an acquisition. Reasons were given until GenMar's cfo Jeffrey Pribor openly stated they would sell... for the right price.
Healy & Baillie's Antonios C. Backos offered the 500-plus degegates highlights of the recently Nasdaq-listed Aries Maritime deal and other recent offerings. An experienced securities attorney new to the maritime scene, Backos has forged his way to the front of those advising on deals coming to the capital markets.
Stelios Haji-Ioannou was named Marine Money's 'Dealmaker of the Year' for his advocacy actions in the sale of Stelmar Shipping to OSG resulting in an additional $170m for his shareholders. Accepting the award, Haji-Ioannou outlined the events leading to providing additional value to Stelmar shareholders. He also discussed the success of his latest venture, easyCruise.
The final panel of the final day was awash with Hellenic energy and verve. George D. Gourdomichalis, chairman and president of FreeSeas Inc, shared his insight on the strengths of the Chinese and Indian markets. Simeon P. Palios, chairman and ceo of Diana Shipping and Christopher J. Georgakis, president and ceo of Excel Maritime Carriers, contributed their reflections on the dry cargo markets and opportunities for growth.
-- Filed: 2005-06-23
Source: www.newsfront.gr


Antiquated Greek ports are dangerous for shipping
--- Modernization program set to improve infrastructure, cargo space.
Ships are less in danger at sea than at port, Giorgos Vlachos, general secretary of the Merchant Marine Ministry, told a Thessaloniki conference this week on "Greek Ports, Present and Future." His observation vividly points up the condition of harbors in the country that leads in global maritime shipping.
Everyone present agreed domestic ports lack modern infrastructure and cannot respond to the growing needs of shipping. Large international companies need storage space for products at the ports of Piraeus, Thessaloniki, Iraklion, and others, but facilities are not sufficient.
The Chinese, who last year increased their exports by 34 percent, chose big Greek ports as their portals for transporting goods to Europe, but the Greeks could not help them due to lack of infrastructure; and of course it was not China who lost from that.
The same problems arise with Balkan states who use the Thessaloniki, Kavala and Alexandroupolis ports as their gateways. The answer in this case, too, was, "We would love to, but there's no storage space." Worse, an avalanche of containers is expected soon as those ships that used to carry between 5,500 and 8,500 such boxes each will now be carrying 12,000 containers.
The problem is not just how to unload and store all the goods but also how such ships can dock in Greek ports safely, given that they currently go in and out of ports at their risk due to the shallow waters and antiquated infrastructure. For instance, a few days ago two ships had their propellers broken as they hit the seabed, while the dock of the Zakynthos port was slightly damaged by a passenger vessel.
"We send divers to see whether there is a risk the dock might move when a big vessel reaches it," Vlachos admitted. "Why then should a shipowner bring his ships to our ports?" The ministry is therefore rushing to make sure it does not miss the boat. As Vlachos announced, the ministry has prepared a modernization plan for Greek port infrastructures that includes the creation of storage spaces, the upgrading of the existing ones and improvement in the security of ships and their cargo. The private sector is also involved, while the government is in negotiations with the European Central Bank and is soon expected to sign a cooperation memorandum for a 3-billion-euro loan. The government will add a similar amount to fund the port modernization and upgrading program.
Vlachos explained to Kathimerini that priority will be given to 12 out of the country's 70 ports. These are Corfu, Igoumenitsa, Patras, Iraklion, Alexandroupolis, Kavala, Thessaloniki, Volos, Rafina, Lavrion, Piraeus and Elefsina.
Foreign currency influx from shipping in 2004 amounted to 13.307 billion euros, against 9.569 billion in 2003, showing a 39.05 percent increase. This rising trend continued in the first quarter of 2005, with a 10 percent rise over the January-March 2004 period.
Source: By Stavros Tzimas - Kathimerini, 18 June 2005


Cargo left to rot in Piraeus as dock workers prolong strike
---The continuing strike by Piraeus stevedores trapped thousands of imported goods in the port city's harbor, as dock workers across Greece are taking part in a 24-hour strike of the General Confederation of Greek Labor (GSEE) today.
Port users are already feeling the impact of the strike and registering initial economic losses. This has forced the board of the Panhellenic Association of Shipping Agents and Professional Port Users to call on dock workers to temporarily suspend their industrial action "until the return of the Merchant Marine Minister from China" so that the port stays open in the meantime.
"For the benefit of consumers, society as a whole and the Professional Port Users we represent, we are requesting you to make every possible effort to continue the industrial peace that existed in Piraeus," the association said through a statement.
The group's president, Yiannis Theologitis, told Kathimerini that he was optimistic about the issue's resolution. "I expect the two sides will realize their responsibilities for the current situation in the port and will seek to achieve a mutually acceptable solution for the benefit of society," he said.
MSC, a well-known international cargo shipping company, said that if the strike goes on then "it is unavoidable that shipping companies will stop patiently watching the two sides fail to reach a solution, which will keep the country's first port from operating and its trade and industry moving forward."
MSC said through the statement that it hopes port workers realize the negative effects of a prolonged strike. "Unfortunately, this has not happened so far, and the company is now obliged to take all measures necessary to contain as much as possible the great damages it has suffered," the statement said.
Source: By Nikos Bardounias - Kathimerini, Date: 6-24-2005


Greek brokers stage big show
---The Hellenic Shipbrokers' Association (HSA) and its member companies outdid even the biggest Posidonia party when some 3,000 guests turned out for the gala dinner of shipbroker fest Pireas 2005.
The HSA launched the idea of the Pireas get-togethers a decade ago but it has taken off to an extent that perhaps even the organisers themselves might not have visualised.
Brokers from around the world streamed in to Piraeus and Athens to meet with the Greek shipping industry some to take part in the second Global Shipbrokers' Forum, some to try their hand in the first Pireas Sailing Cup and most to party, party and party even more.
Events were held all over town, ranging from offices to the Yacht Club of Greece and seaside restaurants and fashionable clubs, while the gala dinner was so huge it called for a venue as big as the Agios Kosmas Olympic Sailing Centre.
The names of those who were present are too numerous to list and it is at the risk of offending others that some of the attendees are identified, while certainly other parties also took place that are not given coverage here.
Early on in the week, Stamford, Connecticut-based Odin Marine threw a shindig for tanker companies with representatives from the chartering departments of the major Greek tanker operators letting their hair down at the chic Island club.
Optima Shipbrokers opened up their office building from the garden to the roof terrace for a party that included live jazz and sprays of flowers for the ladies as they arrived. Carriers Chartering hosted their clients and friends at a seaside club, while it was back to Island for the Clarkson (Hellas) bash, which featured a Spanish theme including a flamenco dancing display.
Then came the main event the gala dinner. Owners and brokers urgently talked on their mobile phones, not for business on this occasion, but trying to locate each other in the press. Among the attractions of the evening extravaganza was the celebration of the HSA's 30th anniversary with a towering cake cut by past presidents of the association, who also toasted the occasion in champagne prior to a firework display. Then, as guests started to filter out sometime after 2 am, the coast road built up major traffic jams.
Who knows what Pireas 2007 will hold in store!
Source: www.tradewinds.no, By Gillian Whittaker, Athens, published: 24 June 2005


Introduction speech: Oil Tanker Panel - Marine Money Week
---by Charlotte Crosswell, Head of NASDAQ International:
Good Morning everyone, I'm Charlotte Crosswell, Head of NASDAQ International and I'm delighted to be here today and to participate in Marine Money Week.
I have come to know President Matt McCleery and I appreciate his expertise and insight in the shipping industry. Marine Money International and Marine Money Week is pivotal to the industry and may I extend a thank you to Matt and the team for inviting me to address this distinguished group.
NASDAQ is very active in the arena for shipping listings and as a market we are enjoying getting to know the industry in greater depth. I am greatly looking forward to hearing this panel share their collective expertise on the future and evolution of the shipping industry and how major shipping companies can achieve better valuations in the market. These are interesting times for the shipping sector. The role capital markets can play in respect to capital formation and the overall maturation of the industry is integral and very topical.
There are currently 10 shipping companies listed on NASDAQ and we have the commitment from several more companies to list on our market this year. In addition there are a handful of further deals which are currently deciding where to list and we hope to steer them NASDAQ's way in the next few quarters. Overall, we are experiencing a high demand for US listings.
Shipping deals are popular with investors and with good cause. In recent weeks, the shipping industry heavy-weights have announced record earnings, encouraging investor enthusiasm for shipping companies. Moeller-Maersk posted a record profit of $4.3 billion last year as a result among other things of the surge in freight rates. Frontline's profit rose to a record $1 billion and Teekay Shipping, the world's largest oil tanker owner, said earnings in 2004 jumped about sixfold to over $750 million.
There is a lot of talk about the 'window of opportunity' for shipping companies in terms of the capital markets depending on freight rates and asset prices. As you know shipping rates may fall further this year - hopefully not! as the number of vessels that carry oil, coal and other commodities expands as global and economic growth slows, according to analyst reports in December and March.
NASDAQ is at the forefront in attracting new listings and offers a platform which is more transparent, more efficient and which can provide investors with better price discovery and price certainty. Importantly for the shipping industry, NASDAQ can provide global visibility to investors. Our high listing standards and the power of our brand lend credibility and convey the leadership of our companies.
We are dedicated to fostering the growth of shipping not only through financing but through the services we provide. Some of you will have an opportunity to visit NASDAQ's MarketSite in Times Square, which contains a broadcast studio, with televised programming reaching millions of investors around the globe each day. This is just one aspect of the support we provide to companies that list with us.
The latest NASDAQ shipping IPO took place on June 3rd - Aries Maritime. They join DryShips and TopTankers which listed in the last 12 months on NASDAQ as well as established names such as Golar and Stolt Nielsen.
NASDAQ has been very active in Greece in particular, over the last few months.
The Greek shipping industry has managed to keep a steady international lead.
This is an achievement, in a highly competitive arena during a period of radical technological developments, of globalisation of the economy and of continual increase in the number of regulations.
NASDAQ believes in learning and understanding businesses from the bottom up and is committed to acquiring a true grasp of shipping operations. NASDAQ is spending time with companies, shipowners and influencers and also becoming involved with industry bodies such as INTERTANKO and Marine Money. It is through this approach that a genuine affinity and understanding develops - and where NASDAQ wants to be on the ground, with the people that take care of business.
As Head of NASDAQ International, I hope to be able to replicate our success in raising NASDAQ's profile in Greece, in other shipping centres, such as Norway and the Far East.
We continuously reach out to private companies seeking to finance their growth by leveraging the capital markets - and also companies that already have a US listing. NASDAQ has 3,300 listed companies and we represent all sectors of the economy. We believe in the shipping industry and we want to help in all aspects of creating and maintaining a successful US program.
May I now introduce the panel moderators, Andrian R. Dacy, Head of Global Shipping at JP Morgan and Niels Lyng-Olsen, Managing Director DnB NOR Markets, Inc. and welcome our distinguished panel members to Marine Money Week. Obviously it goes without saying that should any of you want to chat afterwards, I would be happy to entertain conversations about switching to the NASDAQ!
Source: 18th Annual Marine Money Week, June 15-16 2005, NYC Waldorf-Astoria


Turkey delays signature of protocol extending customs union with EU
---Turkey's signature of the protocol that would extend the EU-Turkey customs union to all new member states (including Cyprus) was one of the first victims of the disastrous EU summit that ended in the early hours of Saturday.
Only a week ago, EU officials and analysts were convinced that Turkey would sign the protocol, and thereby avoid reprimands in the EU Council's conclusions.
However, a combination of events resulted in the much-awaited signature never happening.
Turkey's first incentive to sign was removed when the EU Council took any mention of Turkey and other candidate countries off its conclusions. No likely reprimand: no incentive to sign.
Its second incentive to sign collapsed when talks broke down in Brussels between Greek Cypriots and Turkish Cypriots on how to implement the 'direct trade regulation' that would lift restrictions on Turkish Cypriot trade.
Turkey is trying to tie the signature of the protocol to a deal on this thorny issue.
Signing the Protocol is the last remaining precondition for Turkey to start accession negotiations on October 3.
EU leaders approved the text of the Protocol last week.
However, Turkey has been dragging its feet over the signature.
First, because it fears that the signature will imply de facto recognition of Cyprus, and a strong of court cases, and second, because the earlier Turkey signs, the earlier it will come under pressure to actually implement it.
The European Commission and all member states except for Cyprus and Greece believe that signing the Protocol is enough to fulfil the conditions for accession negotiations.
However, the Commission is likely to be tougher after October 3 when assessing whether the Protocol has been implemented.
Strictly speaking, since the customs union does not cover services, it could be argued that it does not cover shipping, which means that Turkey may not have to allow Cpyrus-flagged ships to dock at Turkish ports.
However, Commission officials have made it clear that any restrictions on free movement of goods (such as refusal of ships) would constitute a breach of the customs union and it may therefore end up taking Turkey to court.
Turkey's prime minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan is under intense pressure from the increasingly vocal nationalist elements in Turkey not to sign.
In another sign of delay over the weekend, Erdogan said that the signature would happen after a debate in parliament.
However, much will depend on a deal over Turkish Cypriot trade.
"For Turkey to open its ports and airports, the [Turkish Cypriot] isolation should first be lifted. If not, no one should expect investment from Turkey," Turkish Daily News quoted Erdogan as saying.
Trade talks seem stuck in the mire, however. When talks on direct trade collapsed last week, both Greek Cypriots and Turkish Cypriots accused each other of intransigence. [Source Financial Mirror]
Source: www.reporter.gr, 11:02 - 21 June 2005 -


U.K. Coastguard Detains Liberian Oil Tanker on Safety Faults
---The U.K. Coastguard detained a Liberian-flagged oil tanker scheduled to transfer its cargo to another off the east coast of England because of safety faults.
The Betatank II, which can carry about 100,000 metric tons of oil, was held up 10.4 nautical miles off the port of Southwold, the U.K. Maritime & Coastguard Agency said in an e- mailed statement today. The ship's distress signal and emergency beacon were not working properly.
The MCA inspects ships registered outside the U.K. calling at British ports, under the Paris Memorandum of Understanding, an international agreement aimed at eliminating sub-standard ships. Any repairs must be done before ships can leave.
``This transfer will not take place until the Betatank II has corrected her deficiencies,'' the agency said. The vessel's crew ``were unable to launch lifeboats satisfactorily,'' it said.
The 16-year-old ship was due to offload its cargo tomorrow to a tanker called the Elka Apollon. Open-sea oil transfers have become more common as Russia pumps more oil and ships it to Asia, where demand is growing. Baltic Sea ports are too shallow for large tankers, so smaller ships deliver oil to them at anchor off England and Denmark.
The Betatank II is operated by Estoril Navigation Co. Ltd., based in Piraeus, Greece, according to Lloyd's Register-Fairplay data on Bloomberg.
Source: June 23 www.bloomberg.com, Last Updated: June 23, 2005 04:32 EDT


TOP Tankers Announces New Time-Charter Contract
---ATHENS, Greece, June 24 ---TOP Tankers Inc (Nasdaq: TOPT - News) announced today that it has entered one of its Suezmax tankers, the M/T "Noiseless," into a time-charter contract with a major state oil company for a period of three years, at a rate of $36,000 per day. The charterers have the option to extend the contract for an additional four-year period.
Following this agreement, 19 of the Company's 23 tankers will be on time-charter contracts for periods of more than three years, 17 of which include profit sharing agreements.
About TOP Tankers Inc
TOP Tankers Inc. is an international provider of worldwide seaborne transportation services of bulk commodities. The Company expects to own and operate a fleet of 23 tankers transporting crude oil and refined petroleum products. The fleet consists of nine double-hull Suezmax tankers and 14 double-hull Handymax tankers, with a total carrying capacity of approximately 2.0 million dwt of which 93.1 percent are sister ships. Nineteen of the Company's 23 tankers are on time charter contracts with an average term of over three years with all but two of the time charters including profit sharing agreements.
Forward Looking Statement
Matters discussed in this release may constitute forward-looking statements. Forward-looking statements reflect our current views with respect to future events and financial performance and may include statements concerning plans, objectives, goals, strategies, future events or performance, and underlying assumptions and other statements, which are other than statements of historical facts.
The forward-looking statements in this release are based upon various assumptions, many of which are based, in turn, upon further assumptions, including without limitation, management's examination of historical operating trends, data contained in our records and other data available from third parties. Although TOP Tankers believes that these assumptions were reasonable when made, because these assumptions are inherently subject to significant uncertainties and contingencies which are difficult or impossible to predict and are beyond our control, TOP Tankers cannot assure you that it will achieve or accomplish these expectations, beliefs or projections.
Important factors that, in our view, could cause actual results to differ materially from those discussed in the forward-looking statements include the strength of world economies and currencies, general market conditions, including changes in charterhire rates and vessel values, failure of a seller to deliver one or more vessels, failure of a buyer to accept delivery of a vessel, inability to procure acquisition financing, changes in demand for oil and petroleum products, the effect of changes in OPEC's petroleum production levels and worldwide oil consumption and storage, changes in demand that may affect attitudes of time charterers, scheduled and unscheduled drydocking, changes in our voyage and operating expenses, including bunker prices, dry-docking and insurance costs, changes in governmental rules and regulations including requirements for double-hull tankers or actions taken by regulatory authorities, potential liability from pending or future litigation, domestic and international political conditions, potential disruption of shipping routes due to accidents and political events or acts by terrorists.
Risks and uncertainties are further described in reports filed by TOP Tankers with the US Securities and Exchange Commission.
Source: Press Release TOP Tankers Inc ,Friday June 24, 2:35 pm ET


Surging tide of shipowners sees attraction of flotation
---A growing wave of Greek shipowners is abandoning a tradition of tightly held ownership in order to list their companies in New York and on other international stock exchanges.
In the past 11 months six Greek shipping companies have launched initial public offerings, mainly on Nasdaq in the US, and another four have filed for a listing with the US Securities and Exchange Commission. Several more are understood to be in the process of preparing a flotation.
For full article go to: news.ft.com/reports/greece2005
Source: http://news.ft.com, Published: June 21 2005 03:00 | Last updated: June 21 2005 03:00


Top shipping man in Cyprus
---THE VICE-President of the European Commission and Transport Commissioner Jacques Barrot will be addressing the ninth bi-annual Maritime Cyprus 2005 Conference which will take place in Limassol from September 25-28, the Shipping Department announced yesterday.
This year's conference will focus on "Shipping: What lies ahead?... A Three Piece Puzzle", looking at three key issues, Manning & Industrial Relations, Ship Safety & Security and Financing.
"During the three-day conference, a wide range of topics will be presented by high calibre speakers and panelists such as Efthimios Mitropoulos, IMO Secretary General, Jacques Barrot, Vice President of the European Commission and Commissioner for Transport, Nicos Efthymiou, President of the Union of Greek Shipowners as well as representatives from ILO, ITF, ISF, INTERTANKO and other international organisations," a statement said.
"The main aim of the "Maritime Conferences" is to operate as a forum where important and current issues relating to international shipping are presented by distinguished speakers and subsequently discussed by the international shipping fraternity, thereby helping to formulate sound and well balanced decisions and policies on crucial shipping issues."
Source: Cyprus Mail, June 2005


Kiperousa's owners fail to put up guarantees
---EAST LONDON - An attempt to free the stricken log-carrying freighter Kiperousa was called off yesterday afternoon after the ships owners failed to post guarantees to ensure payment in case anything went wrong with the vessel in the attempt, officials said.
The salvage master, Geoffrey Needham of Offshore Maritime Services, said everything had been done to make yesterday's attempt to pull the 15000-ton bulk carrier free on the high tide before the operation was aborted "pending the satisfactory receipt of guarantees".
The government is demanding that the ship's owners, Greek-based Swan Marine, provide a guarantee of more than US$3 million (about R21m) before further attempts can be made to free the vessel.
South African Maritime Safety Authority representative Captain Peter Kroon said the salvors had been aware of this problem for some time now but the guarantee was still not in place.
"The government needs to be able to know that if anything goes wrong when the ship is pulled off - it sinks, loses its cargo, capsizes or it causes environmental damage - those costs to the government will be covered.
Needham said the team involved in the attempts to refloat the Kiperousa were to meet last night and to discuss the options open to them.
He added that the weather and the high tide today would be optimal to free the stricken ship.
The Kiperousa, with a cargo of 8000 hardwood logs, went aground close to the coast between Bhirha and Hamburg on June 7.
The salvors spent yesterday morning pumping approximately 400 tons of water from the engine room and securing ropes to the tugs through the special Smit brackets welded onto the Kiperousa's stern.
The ship had been considerable lightened.
The large home on a cliff near the village of Wesley was previously used as a beach house by former Ciskei leader Brigadier Oupa Gqozo.
But it has had its tranquility shattered over the past few days, with the front lawn being converted into a helipad for the choppers ferrying staff to and from the stricken freighter.
The spacious grounds are now abuzz with salvage experts, maritime safety authority and environmental affairs staff and divers who are using it as headquarters to oversee the operation.
If the ship is not able to be refloated today a number of the options will be examined - primarily to save its cargo, Needham said.
If the Kiperousa is pulled free it will be towed to Algoa Bay where divers will work on patching the ship up before bringing it into harbour to unload its logs using lighters plying between the ship and the port.
Should the vessel remain stranded off the coast attempts will be made to remove the logs from the vessel where it is stranded, which could provide a number of logistical problems as each log weighs between three and five tons.
Source: Dispatch Online, South Africa - Jun 24, 2005, By Lew Elias


Union seeks tougher regulation of ship standards
---The Maritime Union in Tasmania says it will investigate overseas ships that dock in Burnie after the recent discovery of two ships in poor condition.
The Chinese-registered ship Sea Angel was detained overnight because of a lack of provisions and amenities.
The union's Mike Wickham says three weeks ago the Greek ship Ponotonostos was black-listed because of alleged human rights violations to workers on board and unpaid wages.
He says the Sea Angel was also in an appalling state.
Mr Wickham says it is not good enough that ships are able to dock in ports when crews are being subjected to such poor conditions.
"They don't pay, they don't do any maintenance and they're competing with the international fleet that are up to a reasonable standard," Mr Wickham said.
He says the State and Federal Governments need to apply more pressure on the companies hiring the ships and keep tighter controls on the standards of ships docking in ports around the country.
"The pressure has to be put on the people that hire these vessels," Mr Wickham said.
"The companies that use them to make them take notice that if they continue to hire them they're going to eventually going to have a problem getting their product out of any port they come to."
Source: http://www.abc.net.au, Last Update: Monday, June 27, 2005. 7:30am (AEST)


FBB overcomes early skepticism
---First Business Bank (FBB) may be the sixth-largest Greek bank in total assets but it is the only one that focuses so heavily on funding shipping, as by the end of 2004 some 43 percent of its loan portfolio ($391 million) involved shipping.
In its third year of operation, FBB effectively continues the activities of the Bank of Nova Scotia, from Canada, which, after its acquisition of Scotia Bank at the end of 2001, made the strategic decision to leave Europe.
A majority (51 percent) of FBB's shares is controlled by well-known shipping families, including the Restis group, the Constantakopoulos group (Costamare) and the Martinos group (Thenamaris, Minerva Maritime, etc). Another 44 percent belongs to the Agricultural Bank, whose president, Dimitris Miliakos, chairs the FBB governing board, while the Bank of Nova Scotia has retained a 5 percent stake which is expected to be acquired by the Agricultural Bank soon, according to an agreement.
As the bank is controlled by shipping interests, this could evoke negative impressions about lending to rival groups in the shipping sector. At an event held by the bank this week, FBB's general director for shipping, Nikos Vouyoukas, admitted that several clients had initially been skeptical, but added that this has been overcome to a great extent.
According to data to the end of May, the bank has funded a total of 116 vessels, with the balance of loans already paid at $398 million and those to be paid at $52 million, i.e. a total of $450 million.
Source: N. ROUSSANOGLOU, 25 Jun 2005, http://www.ekathimerini.com


Fortis sets sights on ship finance and insurance growth
---EUROPEAN financial services giant Fortis has unveiled a five-year plan in which growth in ship finance and insurance play a key role.
Overall, Fortis has set a target of an average annual growth of net profit per share of at least 10%, excluding capital gains realised on divestments, in the period 2005-2009.
In global shipping, Fortis' merchant bank division aims to grow from a "top 10 player world-wide with 25 years of experience" to a "well established world-wide top five player," almost doubling revenues along the way.
As part of Fortis's "selective expansion" in Asia and North America, the merchant banking division plans to increase market coverage of shipping by, for example, opening an office in China.
The division is also targetting intermodal/container activities from San Francisco and oil and gas from Calgary.
In insurance, Fortis highlighted "integration and selective growth" in its home market, and the "export of competences" to European and Asian markets.
Source: www.lloydslist.com, By Tony Gray- Friday June 24 2005


Greek-Italian Natural Gas Pipeline
---The way has been paved for the construction of the Greek-Italian natural gas pipeline with the signing of the Protocol by Greek Development Minister Dimitris Sioufas and his Italian counterpart Claudio Scajola in Athens. The underwater pipeline that will link the two countries, will be finished according to schedule by 2010 by a company set up by Greek DEPA and Italian EDISON. The two countries' governments stated their support to the materialisation of the project, which Mr Sioufas described as historic. The underwater pipeline will be able to annually provide the West with 11 billions of cubic metres of natural gas from the Caspian Sea, thus covering their energy needs.
Source: By Despina Hristopoulou, www.news.ert.gr, 25 Jun 2005 00:02:00


Qatar Airways starts flights to Athens
---QATAR Airways touched down at its 65th destination Athens on Thursday afternoon to a warm welcome by the Greek civil aviation authorities, airport and airline officials.
Qatar Airways' general manager (Commercial) Mohamed Saleh Fakhri led a high-level airline delegation on the inaugural flight QR472.
Athens is the national carrier's third route launch this month following the start of new flights to Mashad (Iran) and the Egyptian port city of Alexandria.
The airline is operating six flights a week on the Doha - Athens route, using an Airbus A320 in a two-class configuration of 12 seats in business and 132 in economy class.
An airline spokesman said as part of the route launch, Qatar Airways is offering members of its Privilege Club (frequent flyer programme) double Qmiles for a month on the Athens route.
Qatar Airways chief executive officer Akbar al-Baker said he was delighted to see the airline spreading its wings to new and exciting destinations, giving the travelling public greater choice.
"Athens has tremendous history and culture and is the gateway to some beautiful islands in the Mediterranean which I am sure will be highly popular with holidaymakers as the summer season approaches. We expect to see excellent traffic from the Middle East, the sub-continent, and other parts of Asia and Africa feeding into our flights to Athens via Doha. And similarly, we look forward to welcoming passengers out of Greece to connect onto our extensive network of flights from Doha," he said.
Award-winning Qatar Airways currently operates a modern fleet of 40 all-Airbus aircraft, which will almost double within a few years, thanks largely to a $5.1bn order for 34 additional Airbus aircraft signed in 2003.
The new Doha - Athens schedule is as follows:
Mondays and Fridays - departure Doha 11.45am, arrival Athens 4.20pm
Tuesdays and Thursdays- departure 12.30am, arrival Athens 5.05am
Wednesdays and Sundays- departure 8.50am, arrival Athens at 1.25pm.
Qatar Airways Athens - Doha schedule:
Mondays and Fridays departure Athens 5.20pm, arrival Doha at 9.20pm
Tuesdays and Thursdays departure 7.15am, arrival 11.15am
Wednesdays and Sundays departure 3.30pm, arrival 7.30pm
Source: http://www.gulf-times.com, Published: Saturday, 18 June, 2005, 12:06 PM Doha Time