Greek Shipping News Cuts
Week 26 - 2005

 

MSC on the verge of quitting Piraeus

---Piraeus port's biggest customer, MSC is threatening to move its East Mediterranean hub from Piraeus charging the near month-long strike by dockers has caused the company "very big losses". Dockers working in the container and car terminals have been holding a series of rolling strikes and refusing to do overtime since the beginning of June.
In an announcement June 29 MSC said that "for a long period MSC has faced problems in Piraeus". It said the port's management is responsible as Piraeus "is not meeting the MSC's needs" and the company "has no intention to continue to bear losses".
Under 10-year long agreements MSC provides Piraeus' container terminal with some 70% of its movements. As congestion has built-up MSC has been diverting its ships to Limassol and Beirut for loading and discharging.
The MSC announcement came as dockers postponed for a week (to July 6) strike action, though the ban on overtime remains.
Manolis Kefaloyiannis, who is locked in a 'face-off' with striking dockworkers over efforts to cap dockers pay and amend working conditions, is to meet union leaders July 1 in another effort to reach a compromise.
Kefaloyiannis has just returned from a visit to China where he was told China wants to play a major role in the development of Greece's ports as Beijing sees Greece as playing a big part in its drive to expand trade with Southeast Europe and North Africa. Zhang Chunxian, China's minister responsible for shipping and transport, told Kefaloyiannis that China wants to use Greece and its ports as trade hubs, and is prepared to invest in their development to enable produce to be shipped into and stored in the country.
Source: www.newsfront.gr, -- Filed: 2005-06-30


Greek dockworkers act to save their jobs
---Dockworkers at Piraeus, the main Greek port, have taken firm action to defend their jobs. In just the last two weeks they have organised five days of strike action in protest at the multiple and varied attacks on them, in particular since the Minister for Shipping blocked the collective agreement reached between the workers and the Port Authority.
The Piraeus dockworkers union, a member of the International Dockworkers' Council (IDC), has denounced the double threat to their future: on the one hand, the text of the European Directive, which is still under discussion in Brussels and which aims to deregulate dock work; and on the other, the attitude adopted by Kostas Karamanlis' conservative government, clearly demonstrated in their undermining of any agreement with workers and their attempt to completely privatise the labour management.
The dockworkers had actually reached an initial agreement with the Port Authority, an agreement which is now in jeopardy, after the personal intervention of the Shipping Minister, Manolis Kefalogiannis. The aim of this interruption is the complete privatisation of the port and the slashing of dockworkers' employment rights. Among the most serious attacks are the threat to eliminate permanent jobs and the introduction of work flexibility through the arbitrary extension of shift work. This would lead to the systematic laying off of 1, 600 temporary workers, who would be replaced every 8 months, with the sole objective of reducing labour costs. It is a measure that goes against all common sense, as no-one could guarantee a professional, quality port service, and which has been overwhelmingly rejected by Greek workers and the IDC.
The workers have already adopted various protest measures, such as an overtime ban, a sit-in at the Port Authority offices and even five days of strikes, which paralysed the port on the 9th and 10th of June and the following week on the 16th, 17th and 18th. The dockworkers are demanding that the Shipping Minister support the joint agreement reached between the union and the Port Authority and withdraw his attempt to renegotiate the agreement while imposing his conditions. Dockworkers cannot be considered temporary workers, as the Greek government intends; rather, they are, to all effects, permanent workers. This has been recognised by the Piraeus Port Authority and should be thus stipulated in the joint agreement.
The Greek dockworkers' struggle is also part of the common front that all IDC-affiliated ports have established against the European Directive. On the 14th June, more than 90 European ports stopped work for 3 hours in protest over a Directive that is being drawn up with no regard to their proposals and which intends to eliminate the profession of dockworkers. The establishment of "self-assistance", the possibility of ship-owners and dock companies operating without professional dockworkers, is in direct conflict with workers' interests and absurdly risks the successful running of the European dock industry.
Source: http://www.libcom.org, June 29, 2005


Athens, Ankara sign multi-faceted trade cooperation memorandum
--- Greece and Turkey on Thursday signed a memorandum of cooperation in the commercial and trade sector following the conclusion of a two-day inter-ministerial council meeting in Athens.
An agreement on patent and standardisation between the relevant Greek and Turkish agencies was also signed on the sidelines of the meeting, a pact that foresees the exchange of know-how, among others.
On his part, Greek Deputy Foreign Minister Evripides Stylianidis called for a decrease in the trade gap between the two neighbours, as Turkey still enjoys a 2-1 advantage in the bilateral trade balance, a motion that reportedly met with acceptance by the Turkish side.
Athens also proposed the creation of a second bridge at the Kipi border crossing on the two countries' land frontier, a border separated by the Evros River.
Both sides also agreed, in principle, to ferry boat routes in the northeast Aegean linking the ports of Ainos, Alexandroupolis, Maroneia, the island of Samothrace and the island of Imvros.
The memorandum also cited a reference to an agreement between state-run Greek telephony provider OTE and the corresponding utility Turk Telecom, as well as one between Hellenic Railways and Turkish Rail for upgrading the Thessaloniki-Istanbul route.
The Turkish delegation was headed by Foreign Trade Undersecretary Tuncer Kayalar.
Source: http://www.ana.gr, 1 July 2005


Ferry services to Greece resume this summer
---LOUIS Cruise Lines and Greek company ANEK lines are launching a resumption of ferry services between Greece and Cyprus as a pilot scheme this summer, reports said yesterday.
Ferry services between Cyprus and Greece were suspended several years ago after violence flared in Israel. The service used to run from Piraeus to Limassol before ending in Haifa, and most of the demand for ferry services was from Israelis wanting to travel to Greece or take their cars to Europe.
However, when Israelis stopped travelling, demand from Cyprus was not enough to keep the services running.
Reports yesterday said a deal had been struck between Louis and ANEK to operate a ferry service on the Louis ship Princesa Marissa that will be part cruise and part ferry to Rhodes and Piraeus.
The pilot scheme will run until September and may be extended, depending on demand. Tickets can be one-way or return and according to Politis the service begins on July 17 and will also operate on July 24 and 31, August 7, 14, 21 and 28, and September 4 and 11 from Cyprus.
The ferry will depart from Piraeus on July 20 and 27, August 3, 9, 16, 24 and 30, and September 7 and 13, and from Rhodes on June 27, July 21 and 25, and August 4 and 8.
The deal was struck after months of discussions with the Greek government after the Merchant Marine Ministry sent out letters to maritime companies in order to gauge the interest of companies in the planned opening of a 'motorway of the sea' connecting Greece and Cyprus, the Athens News Agency (ANA) said last week.
The project is part of the European Union's Trans-European Transport networks (TEN-T) programme.
ANA said shipping companies were requested to express their interest ahead of a joint proposal that Greece and Cyprus are due to submit to the European Commission.
"Following the signing of a relevant memorandum of co-operation, the two countries' political leadership has agreed on a budget of 15 million euros. To date, Greece's ANEK Lines and Cyprus' Louis Group have expressed an interest in the project. The seaway would be vital in terms of helping Greece and Cyprus upgrade their ports and in boosting commercial activity between the two countries," ANA said.
Source: http://www.cyprus-mail.com, 30 June 2005, By Jean Christou


Greek shipowner base consolidates
---Figures show that the number of Greek-owned ships suffers a fall.
Greek shipping is continuing to consolidate, with the number of companies operating out of the country down by one-quarter in just seven years, according to the latest research.
Athens analyst Petrofin found that 690 Greek shipping companies were operating this year, down 6.23% from 2004 and a substantial 25.49% drop since it first started producing its annual figures in 1998.
The analyst found that there were 3,970 Greek-owned ships, a drop of 5.11% on totals for 2004.
The largest proportion of Greek companies, 288 (41.73%), have fleets of one or two ships, although this is the lowest percentage recorded since the research started.
High vessel values have meant that "quite a few small owners preferred to be bought out of the market, albeit handsomely, rather than miss it," Petrofin said.
Just 26 companies (3.77%) have fleets of over 25 ships, against 31 companies last year, and those controlling fleets of 16 to 24 vessels have remained stable at 36.
Data for Petrofin's study was initially drawn from the 2004 Greek Shipping Directory and cross-referenced against Lloyd's Register-Fairplay figures, which are produced for the London-based Greek Shipping Co-operation Committee (GSCC).
However, Petrofin's results differ widely from the GSCC survey published earlier this year. The analyst has only included newbuildings with delivery dates to 2006. Petrofin believes that newbuilding orders may be susceptible to resales or cancellations, and thus may distort the current picture of the size of Greek companies, the age of their fleets and of vessels actually trading.
The inclusion of what Petrofin calls "everything that floats and is under Greek control" in the study made a dramatic difference to the age profiles produced. The analyst notes that there is still a sizeable number of fleets with ships over 20, or even 30 years old. These are smaller tankers, bulkers and ferries operating locally or in more age-relaxed zones, Petrofin says.
"Specifically, 152 companies run fleets with an average vessel age of 38 years, representing a total of 1.6 million dwt [overall 464 ships]. Of these companies, 54 run fleets with vessels averaging 44 years of age [130 ships]," it added.
At the other end of the spectrum, 56 companies run fleets with an average age of zero to nine years, unchanged from last year's research, and a further 75 have fleets with an average age of 10 to 14 years, showing an improvement from 65 in 2004.
Taking a cut-off of 10,000 dwt, Petrofin found 420 companies are operating 2,629 ships above this size, with an average age of 19.4 years. Comparatively, with a cut-off of 20,000 dwt, there were 382 companies operating 2,338 ships, with an average age of 19 years.
Source: By Gillian Whittaker, Athens, published: 01 July 2005


'This is a fabulous time to be wealthy'
---As wealth concentrates globally in ever fewer hands, private banking is exploding, serving clients with liquid assets exceeding $1 billion. Peter Charrington, the managing director for the UK and Greece at the Citigroup Private Bank, told Kathimerini how these people's banking needs are served and how this niche is taking shape in Greece.
"The global growth of the private banking industry has very much been created by the increase in high-net-worth individuals over the course of the last 10 years. There's been an enormous creation of wealth," Charrington suggested, adding that "some of that wealth did suffer from 2000 to 2004, but, equally during that time, there was a steady influx of new wealth in other areas, such as shipping or the oil business."
"So I think that the amount of wealth created globally has been very significant, and, especially in Greece by the shipowners through the massive demand from China and India, has been very considerable," he explained.
"The private banking industry has actually never been stronger," Charrington believes, asserting that "this is a fabulous time to be a wealthy individual," as one can now have access to products and services that did not exist before.
There are three major changes to private banking's clientele. The rich clients' fortunes grew; they increased in numbers and banks have turned their attention to offering private banking also to those with lower liquid amounts. "A lot of banks have gone toward what I would describe as mass affluent people, meaning those with a net worth of $100,000-200,000," Charrington said. Citigroup, however, opts for the big clients instead, with net fortunes over $10 million.
And what do these clients want? "Their first requirement is to preserve their wealth. Then, we'll talk about how to make some more, but they want to make certain they don't lose what they've got. And that you find across the board - Greek customers, UK clients, Monaco clients," he noted.
Sophisticated clients
So what do Greek shipowners do with their earnings? "Shipping is a cyclical business. There's certainly been some profit-taking and I would expect that to carry on," answered Charrington. "Greek clients are very sophisticated and very shrewd investors. They know when to put money on the table and they know when to take money off the table. And when you think about what is going on in the commodities world today and the amount of shipping created by the Chinese, it may be sensible to take some of that money off the table, put it in the bank and then wonder: 'OK, what do I do with that money?'" he said.
"There are plenty of opportunities to deploy that money in different ways and our clients are looking at various options to diversify away from their core businesses, while recognizing that their best chance of creating wealth for some time to come remains in the shipping sector," he observed. "Today, clients are not content to simply park excess money in cash deposits; they want to adopt a well-thought-out globally diversified investment strategy, which can mean holding bonds and equities in developed as well as emerging economies, but also hedge funds of various strategies and private equity," Charrington argued, commenting that "many Greek clients feel very comfortable with private equity as an asset class."
One option is private equity, investing in non-listed firms in the development stage until they are listed on some stock market. This carries greater risk but could fetch returns of more than 20-25 percent annually. "It classically is a 10-year type of investment," he said.
Co-investment
Citigroup Private Bank also proposes "co-investment," the joint placement of capital by the bank and its clients. "The principle is that we invite the client to invest with us in a particular opportunity, for example, private equity, meaning that Citigroup and the client will participate on an equal footing in the investment. If the value of the investment increases, we all make money; if it goes down, we're all in the same position. In principle, this is a very attractive proposition for clients," Charrington said.
Could this become a major trend, when banks would rather charge commissions than take credit risks? "I think that certainly the big banks are looking at that. You have to have a very well-capitalized bank and there are probably eight or nine banks in the world that can play like that. But I think you will see banks moving toward that."
Along with private bankings' services and products, there is also the proliferation of imposed regulations. Banks, for instance, have to report transactions classified as suspicious. "I think that's perfectly fine and it can absolutely sit alongside confidentially," assured Charrington. He also stressed that "our clients' confidentially is very important to us. It is non-negotiable," and added that "the Greek client base tends to be very confidential for obvious reasons in history and reasonably so. The English, for example, are a little bit more easy."
"I am very comfortable with who our clients are," he said explaining that "over the last two to three years, we have turned away several billion dollars' worth of new business. There is money out there that Citigroup will not bank. If it finds a home somewhere else, I have no idea, but not with us. If you are a serious bank you have to say 'no,'" Charrington concluded categorically.
Source: http://www.ekathimerini.com, 30 Jun 2005, by COSTIS PAPADIMITRIOU


TOP Tankers rated 'strong buy'
---US INVESTMENT house Cantor Fitzgerald has initiated coverage of TOP Tankers with a "strong buy" recommendation.
It has placed a price target of $23 on the company, whose shares closed at $16.05 on Tuesday.
Cantor Fitzgerald expects TOP's significantly expanded fleet of 23 handymax and suezmax tankers to increase the company's top line.
"The company's balanced charter strategy between time and spot rate contract enables TOP to achieve a steady and visible steam of revenue while leveraging above average spot rates," it says.
"We expect oil tanker rates to remain above the 10-year average, resulting from strength in global oil demand combined with high levels of production, but well below levels realised in 2004."
Cantor Fitzgerald estimates that roughly 64% of TOP's revenues this year will be generated by vessels operating under time charter contracts, several with profit sharing arrangements.
It describes TOP's balance sheet as "healthy" and forecast "significant" free cash-flow of $76m ($2.72 per share) in 2005 and $70m ($2.52) next year.
About 61% of TOP's 23-vessel fleet comprises handymax tankers.
Source: www.lloydslist.com, By Tony Gray- Thursday June 30 2005


DryShips Proves the Power of Consistent Investor Relations
---In light of the last articles' focus on the potential for investor relations to add tangible value to public companies, we hope that you find this article detailing the public relations strategy of DryShips that led to remarkable success with regard to share price and valuation particularly compelling.
DryShips listed on the Nasdaq on February 3rd, 2005, following one of the most successful IPOs in shipping. The initial plan was to offer 7.1 million shares priced between $16 and $18 and raise $113.6 to $127.7 million. But the IPO was oversubscribed 8.1 times, and DryShips ultimately offered 14.95 million shares (including the green shoe clause) at $18 per share raising $269.1 million. The success of the DryShips IPO paved the road for a multitude of other offerings and planned offerings in the shipping industry, especially in the dry bulk sector.
From the very beginning, the DryShips committed itself to proactive and consistent investor relations.
Several challenges first had to be addressed. Taking advantage of the additional capital raised through the IPO, DryShips embarked on a series of rapidly staged acquisitions, expanding its fleet within the first quarter of 2005 from six ships pre-IPO to a total of 27 vessel, in contrast to the 17 vessels initially envisioned. All this made it more complicated for investors and analysts to follow the company's development and the earnings progression associated with such rapid growth.
The company addressed these challenges by generating a recurring flow of detailed information, as well as by making sure that this information was distributed directly to a large but targeted group of institutional shareholders, investors and analysts, while at the same time maximizing its public availability for the benefit of the investment community at large.
A major initiative was to make available a Daily Market Report, accessible on the company's website, which aims to provide investors with up to date information on the dry bulk chartering market and especially on the three sectors in which DryShips operates; namely the capesize, panamax and handymax sectors.
Securing analyst coverage was another important consideration. Three major securities houses initiated research coverage of DryShips; Jefferies within a month of the IPO, and Cantor Fitzgerald and Dahlman Rose within two months. All of these came out with buy recommendations on the DRYS shares, with target prices between $ 26 and $ 30, i.e. well beyond the stock's levels at the time. The company kept in direct and close contact with those who invested in the IPO, while at the same time it expanded its prospective investor universe to include all those institutions that actively follow the shipping sector.
From the beginning, investors reacted very positively to the DryShips fundamentals, and the stock gradually rose after its listing on February 3rd to a high of $23.90 on February 28th. From that date on, it started a gradual retreat - in tandem with all other shipping stocks - reaching a low of $ 15.41 on May 3rd, one week after the company announced very strong first quarter earnings that were well above analyst expectations.
The company's management stuck to its investor relations strategy, but at the same it focused on identifying and analyzing the reasons for the continued weakness of the stock price.
The conference call of April 27th had been attended by a very large number of investors, and most large institutional holders - as well as the analysts - had reconfirmed their confidence in the company's prospects, thereby directly contradicting the weak performance of the stock, which had reached very low valuation levels.
The DryShips shares - even though faring better compared to several other shipping stocks - were following the overall trend of the BFI Index, but above all they exhibited a direct correlation to the Dow Jones Industrial Average Index and the US Transportation Indices. Furthermore, investor nervousness about oil and energy prices as well as China's growth was impacting the dry bulk sector stocks even more adversely than the tanker stocks.
The extensive interaction with investors produced several valuable conclusions. The weakness of the DryShips stock was primarily sector rather than company driven. Dry bulk shipping was a relative newcomer to the U.S. capital markets, and it was therefore vital to raise the sector's profile among investors regarding its structure, dynamics and key drivers. After arguing for the disassociation of the sector from the U.S. economy and the U.S. transportation sector, the next challenge would be to address the sustainability of the sector's prospects, taking into consideration the demand-supply balance outlook and the sustainability of China's demand driven by the import of basic raw materials such as iron ore and coal. U.S. investors have been particularly concerned about a potential slow down in China's economy, and therefore it would be vital to underpin that this was not consumer driven but a basic infrastructure-led import demand.
Finally, it would be important to reinforce DryShips strategic positioning as a pure growth play - as opposed to a yield play - in the dry bulk sector.
The management of DryShips was quick to turn all these conclusions into an immediate plan of action. The company embarked on this mission with a carefully planned strategy in terms of the messages to be communicated, the related scripts and the channels to be used.
The target was to meet with major investors on a one-on-one basis, thereby reaffirming the institutional interest, while at the same time embarking on a media campaign that would publicize the same message to a wider audience, raising sector awareness and restoring investor confidence on a wider level. The management of DryShips felt that this two-prong approach would generate maximum impact.
So, two weeks after the 1st quarter 2005 earnings announcement, George Economou, CEO of DryShips, and Chris Thomas, CFO, embarked on a week-long roadshow, meeting investors around the country. George Economou was also featured on the Squawk Box on CNBC, Bloomberg TV and MarketWatch.
The results of this campaign have been more than rewarding. Investors responded to the good fundamentals of the sector and DryShips' clear positioning as a pure growth play. The performance of the share steadily rose after the roadshow on significant volume, indicative of the wider investor interest. The recovery of the DryShips stock underpinned the promising outlook for the dry bulk sector and set the stage for the recovery of other shipping stocks, which moved in proportion based on their own fundamentals.
The lesson, if any, to be learned from this case reaffirms that what ultimately pays is careful planning, transparency, consistency and persistence. Any company that adopts and implements these principles in its investor relations strategy will be clearly appreciated by investors, not just temporarily but in the long haul.
Source: Marine Money Magazine, June Issue 2005. Article By Nicolas Bornozis, the President of Capital Link, Inc. in New York, which is the Investor and Financial Media Relations firmfor DryShips.


Aries Maritime Exercises Option on First of Two Container Vessels
---Aries Maritime Transport Limited (Nasdaq: RAMS) a leading international shipping company that owns and operates products tankers and container vessels, announced today that it has exercised an option to purchase a 2,917 TEU container vessel, the CMA CGM Seine, from an affiliate of Aries Energy, as part of a previous agreement. The CMA CGM Seine will continue to operate on its existing $15,800 per day time charter with the CMA CGM Group of France until September, 2005. At that time, the vessel will immediately commence a new five-year time charter with the same Charterer at a rate of $20,400 per day.
Mons S. Bolin, President and Chief Executive Officer, commented, "We are pleased to be able to exercise the option to purchase, as well as take delivery, of the first of two container vessels. By having the new vessel on a time charter until 2010, we continue to position the Company to provide shareholders with significant earnings stability. At the same time, the addition of this vessel enhances Aries' position for taking advantage of strong, long term, industry fundamentals in the container market. Moving forward, we are committed to seeking opportunities that further strengthens our position in both the container and products tanker markets."
About Aries Maritime Transport Limited
Aries Maritime Transport Limited is an international shipping company that owns and operates products tankers and container vessels. The Company's product tanker fleet, which has an average age of 7.8 years and is 100% double-hulled, consists of four MR tankers, two Panamax tankers and one Aframax tanker. The Company also owns a fleet of five container vessels, which includes an option to purchase one vessel from an affiliate of Aries Energy. The Company's container vessels have an average age of 15.6 years and range in capacity from 1,799 to 2,917 TEU. All of the Company's product tankers and container vessels currently operate under long-term time charters.
"Safe Harbor" Statement Under the Private Securities Litigation Reform Act of 1995
This press release includes assumptions, expectations, projections, intentions and beliefs about future events. These statements are intended as "forward-looking statements". We caution that assumptions, expectations, projections, intentions and beliefs about future events may and often do vary from actual results and the differences can be material. All statements in this document that are not statements of historical fact are forward-looking statements. Forward-looking statements include, but are not limited to, such matters as future operating or financial results; statements about planned, pending or recent acquisitions, business strategy and expected capital spending or operating expenses, including drydocking and insurance costs; statements about trends in the container vessel and products tanker shipping markets, including charter rates and factors affecting supply and demand; our ability to obtain additional financing; expectations regarding the availability of vessel acquisitions; and anticipated developments with respect to pending litigation. The forward-looking statements in this press 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 Aries Maritime Transport Limited 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, Aries Maritime Transport Limited cannot assure you that it will achieve or accomplish these expectations, beliefs or projections described in the forward looking statements contained in this press release. 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 charter 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, default by one or more charterers of our ships, changes in demand for oil and oil products, the effect of changes in OPEC's petroleum production levels, worldwide oil consumption and storage, changes in demand that may affect attitudes of time charterers, scheduled and unscheduled drydocking, changes in Aries Maritime Transport Limited's voyage and operating expenses, including bunker prices, dry-docking and insurance costs, changes in governmental rules and regulations 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, international hostilities and political events or acts by terrorists. When used in this document, the words "anticipate," "estimate," "project," "forecast," "plan," "potential," "will," "may," "should," and "expect" reflect forward-looking statements.
Source: Press Release, Aries Maritime Transport Limited, Wednesday June 29, 4:08 pm ET


Why Capital Maritime Pulled its IPO - What it Means
---Evangelos Marinakis had the world of shipping and capital markets contemplating and strategizing after Capital Maritime's decision to withdraw its 16.7 million share IPO during pricing on Monday night. Goldman led the deal while Bear Stearns and Jefferies played supporting roles as co-managers. With deals for Genco, Quintana, Wexford, and others confidentially filed by foreign issuers in the process of coming to market, Capital's decision to pull has been a reality check for both issuers and underwriters that valuations are coming under increasing pressure with every new deal that comes to market, irrespective of the quality of the fleet and corporate structure.
Dissecting the Deal - Lessons Learned
Ironically, the factors that most influenced the pulling of this deal were determined before the company jumped on the first private jet out of Teterboro: the price range and the corporate structure. As we understand it, a solid group of blue chip institutional investors liked the Capital deal, especially in light of the fundamentals for the product tankers that Capital has on order. However, they became very focused on the price relative to the range.
Set the Range High and Negotiate Down
Unlike Eagle, which went to market at about 180% of net asset value and therefore had a lot of room to negotiate with investors, Capital was boxed in from the start. Goldman advised the company to put a very reasonable price on the cover of the red herring at $14-$16 (5.3x-5.8x EBITDA), hoping that investors would place enough market orders (which do not specify the price) to push the stock to the high end of the range or above it.
Unfortunately, since investors recently had their way with Aries, TBS and Eagle, they put in limit orders (which state a firm price) at $13 - or $2 below the range. The problem was that with a net asset value of about $15/share, Capital had little room to be negotiated down. This inflexibility was compounded by the fact that Evangelos Marinakis put his entire family fleet and management company into the public vehicle, making the impact of a dilutive deal even greater.
Don't Offer Newbuildings If You Won't Get Valuation Credit Yield deals like Diana, Aries and Eagle were able to tap an investor community that focuses on valuations such as Price/EBITDA and dividend yield. However, Capital had much of its net worth in newbuilding contracts (which produce negative cash flow until the ships deliver) and therefore put the company squarely into the world of value - net asset value in this case - which allowed investors to feel they possessed the upper hand. This is not a new phenomenon; TEN has also struggled to have its fantastic newbuilding program assigned a fair value.
Keep It Simple
As superficial and shallow as it sounds, valuing the Capital fleet may have been more time consuming for investors than expected. As of June 3, 2005, the company's existing fleet was comprised of 39 vessels of which twenty-six are product tankers, four are OBOs and nine are bulk carriers. In addition, Capital currently has 16 Ice Class 1A MR product tanker newbuildings on firm order, which are scheduled for delivery in January 2006 through November 2007. These tanker newbuildings have an aggregate carrying capacity of 665,500 deadweight tons and currently comprise the largest fleet of this type and size on order in the world. As sad as it sounds, valuing Capital's fleet, which has a wide range of ages and types, may have required more of a commitment than the average value investor wanted to make.
Like many good deals, the sellers didn't need the money,
and indeed may have been disgusted by the way future partners valued the company after the efforts made to construct a first class investment opportunity. All in all, this was a good deal and it is a disappointment that it didn't get completed. In the end, we think it is the investors who have lost out here. Although every deal seems to influence the next one, we do not think the pulling of this deal will have a major impact on future shipping IPOs - so long as issuers go into the market with reasonable expectations. The fact remains that at today's high net asset values, issuing a minority interest in equity at even a slight premium is a very attractive proposition.
Source: Freshly Minted at www.marinemoney.com, 30 June 2005


Excel Maritime Agrees to Sell Cape Size and Acquires Panamax Bulk Carrier
---Excel Maritime Carriers Ltd (Amex: EXM), an owner and operator of dry bulk carriers and a provider of worldwide seaborne transportation services for dry bulk cargo, announced today that it has agreed to sell MV "Fighting Lady," a Cape size bulk carrier built in 1983. The vessel was acquired by Excel in 1999.
The Company anticipates that the gain realized from the sale will be approximately US $18.7 million.
In addition, the Company announced that it has acquired and taken physical delivery of one more Panamax bulk carrier. The vessel, to be renamed "Rodon," is a Panamax dry bulk carrier of 73,670 dwt built in 1993 in Korea.
Following the sale of MV "Fighting Lady" and the acquisition of MV "Rodon," the Company will have a fleet of 18 vessels with a deadweight capacity of 1,112 million and an average age of 13.24 years.
Georgakis commented, "We are pleased to be reporting the sale of MV 'Fighting Lady,' which was due for Special Survey in the fourth quarter of this year and the redeployment of the proceeds for the acquisition of MV 'Rodon,' a vessel that is younger by 10 years. This acquisition is in line with the Company's continued expansion plans of acquiring more and younger vessels."
About Excel Maritime Carriers Ltd
The Company is an owner and operator of 18 dry bulk carriers with a total carrying capacity of 1,112,070 dwt, after having taken delivery of all new acquisitions, and a provider of worldwide seaborne transportation services for dry bulk cargo. This includes commodities such as iron ore, coal, grains, as well as bauxite, fertilizers and steel products. The Company was incorporated in 1988 under the laws of Liberia.
Source: Excel Maritime Carriers Ltd, Monday June 27, 7:35 am ET


Attika Holdings: first quarter 2005 results
---Attica Group's consolidated financial results for the first quarter of 2005 show Turnover of Euro 63.1mln (Euro 70.8mln in Q1:04) and Earnings before Interest and Depreciation (EBITDA) of Euro 8.5mln (Euro 10.3mln).
Consolidated results for the first quarter 2005 show a net Loss of Euro 6.0mln (Euro -2.4mln), of which Euro 2.2mln are Minority Interests. It should be noted that the first quarter of 2004 included Extraordinary Income of Euro 5.0mln from the sale of vessels Superfast I (built in 1995) and Blue Sky (built in 1974), which excluded for comparative purposes, show this year's net result improved over the previous year. In addition to Superfast I and Blue Sky, vessels Blue Bridge (built in 1976), Kefalonia (built in 1975) and Cesme 1 (built in 1973), were also sold in the course of 2004.
The financial results for the first quarter of 2005 and those of the same period in 2004, are reported for the first time under International Financial Reporting Standards (IFRS) and as at 31st March, 2005, show Net Equity at Euro 367.8mln, Cash and Cash Equivalents at Euro 107.4mln and Fixed Assets at Euro 1,146mln.
Specifically, the Group's results for the period 01.01-31.03 are:
In Euro mln 2005 2004
Turnover 63.1 70.8
EBITDA 8.5 10.3
Extraordinary Income from sales of vessels - 5.0
Net Profit (Loss) after Minorities (3.8) (0.4)
SUPERFAST FERRIES maintains leading position in the Greece-Italy routes
In the Greece-Italy routes, Superfast Ferries carried 84,186 passengers (9% decrease), 27,454 freight units (17% decrease) and 15,062 private vehicles (6% decrease) maintaining their leading position in the transportation of passengers, freight units and private vehicles with corresponding market shares of 33.7% in passengers, 26.4% in freight units and 32.6% in private vehicles of the total passenger, freight unit and private vehicle traffic on the Greece-Italy routes in the Adriatic Sea, in the first quarter of 2005.
The decrease in volumes carried on the Greece-Italy routes is due to the 12.7% decrease in the number of sailings executed by Superfast Ferries on the Greece-Italy routes as the company employed one vessel less compared to the first quarter of 2004.
- new route between Germany and Finland
- increase in volumes between Scotland and Belgium
In the Germany-Finland route, Superfast VII and Superfast VIII carried in the first quarter of the year 28,788 passengers (2% decrease), 14,373 freight units (15% increase) and 8,818 private vehicles (5% decrease).
The newly acquired RoRo vessels Marin and Nordia which were deployed on the Rostock, Germany-Uusikaupunki, Finland route on 13th January, 2005, carried 3,137 freight units.
In the Scotland-Belgium route, Superfast IX and Superfast X carried during the first quarter of the year 22,913 passengers (17% increase), 8,169 freight units (5% increase) and 5,458 private vehicles (49% increase).
BLUE STAR MARITIME S.A. first quarter 2005 results
Consolidated Turnover for Blue Star Maritime S.A., in which Attica Group holds a 48.8% controlling stake, stood at Euro 17.1mln for the first quarter of 2005. Earnings before Interest, Tax and Depreciation (EBITDA) stood at Euro 1.1mln and net result of a Loss of Euro 4.38mln. In the first quarter of 2005, Blue Star strengthened its presence in the Adriatic routes with the redeployment of Blue Star 1, on the Patras-Igoumenitsa-Bari route. Net Equity for the Blue Star Group stood at Euro 187.2mln under IFRS, against Euro 179.1mln.
PARTICIPATIONS
During the first quarter of 2005, Attica Group acquired a 10.23% stake in Minoan Lines Shipping S.A. and a 11.76% stake in Hellas Flying Dolphins.
For more information please contact: Attica Group, Mr. Yannis Criticos, Member of the Board bTel.: +30 210 891 9500, Fax : +30 210 891 9509, e-mail: ir@attica-group.com, www.attica-group.com, www.superfast.com, www.bluestarferries.
Source: http://www.attica-group.com, 29th June, 2005 16:00


United States with new law on oil spill prevention measures
---The United States House of Representatives has unanimously passed a law increasing liability limits for oil spills in United States waterways. The "Delaware River Protection Act" followed a November 2004 accident involving the Greek oil tanker Athos I that spilled 265,000 gallons of heavy crude oil into into the Delaware River.
The spill hampered shipping and polluted more than 100 miles of shoreline in Pennsylvania, New Jersey and Delaware. The polluted river stretched from the Tacony-Palmyra Bridge in northeast Philadelphia to south of the Smyrna River in Delaware.
The measure now goes to the Unted States Senate and addresses the following issues: increase of liability limits on single hull tankers under the Oil Pollution Act, requirement for ships to report objects that are lost overboard to the Coast Guard for immediate recovery, creation of a new committee to report to United States Congress on ways to improve oil spill response and prevention, and establishment of a pilot project on the Delaware River and bay to test techniques to recover submerged oil.
The spill from Athos I happened when the tanker was berthing at a terminal and the hull of the tanker was ripped open by a rusty anchor resting on the river bottom. Authorities have not determined where the anchor came from, only that the U.S. Coast Guard is responsible for keeping the waterway safe for shipping.
"The unanimous support for this legislation shows that it is not only very important to our region, but to the nation as well," said LoBiondo, chairman of the Coast Guard and Maritime Transportation Subcommittee. "This bill will help ensure that the ecologically significant areas in New Jersey, Delaware and Pennsylvania are protected from future oil spills, while allowing the vital commerce of the Delaware River and the nation to continue."
Source: Daily round up from www.Tankerworld.com, 29 June 2005