Greek Shipping News Cuts
Week 30 - 2005

 

Exploring the Age Differential: Why It Fell and If It Should Rise Again

---Sydney Levine of Shipping Intelligence has taken a look at what part of the most recent crest in the shipping cycle has statistically not been witnessed before, and has noticed a very interesting point, which is illustrated by the accompanying graph. Namely, while timecharter rates (and correspondingly the level of vessel values) have been volatile and unpredictable over the years, the ratio of the cost of an older vessel to that of a younger vessel has stayed fairly constant over time. In particular, 20-year-old dry bulk vessels have cost in the approximate range of 20-30% of what comparable 5-year-old vessels cost since at least 1991 with relatively little fluctuation.
If an older vessel is reliable and efficient, there is no reason it cannot earn a similar amount to a newer vessel, particularly when supply is tight. But the older vessel has less years of cashflow generation left, so it correspondingly has less inherent value.
Source: Freshly Minted Online at www.marinemoney.com, 29 Jul 2005


IPO expert offers tips on investor relations
---Shipping companies that take the plunge into the public markets have sold their story to the investors in their initial public offering (IPO) but many of them are unaware of the importance of continuing to keep that story in the eye of investors.
Listed companies that do not meet market expectations and standards may find themselves marginalised in terms of investor attention, warns a financial communications and investor relations (IR) specialist.
Nicolas Bornozis, head of New York-based Capital Link Inc, points out that the initial investors in an IPO are "just a fraction of the total investment universe". He believes that to ensure an ongoing, liquid secondary market in its shares, a company must reach out to both institutional and individual investors.
Some 50% of the volume in the US market comes from retail investors, he says, so while a company may treat the retail market and the institutional market differently, "the message you communicate is one".
If a successful listed company has a poor communications policy, its stock price will reflect that, Bornozis asserts. "You can't have a good story and keep it to yourself," he said.
Greek-born Bornozis has lived in the US for the past 25 years and is one of a handful of IR advisors that are building a specialisation in shipping. The combination of his Greek background and understanding of the Greek mentality with professional experience in banking and finance in the US appears to offer a good recipe for advising the growing number of Greek shipping companies that have knocked on the doors of the American markets.
Already, Capital Link has picked up the accounts of George Economou's DryShips, Excel Maritime and FreeSeas, the Gourdomichalis-Varouxakis reverse merger company.
During a period with Credit Commercial de France (CCF) in New York, Bornozis was a business-development and lending officer partly involved in shipping finance. He later moved to the securities side and became an equities salesman. "My job at the time was to sell non-US companies to US investors," he said. The experience helped him understand what investors are looking for, how they analyse and their investment strategies.
"American investors are the most solicited in the world," Bornozis said. "Everyone wants the attention of the US analyst or portfolio manager but they follow hundreds of thousands of stocks from all over the world, so in approaching them, companies need to be well prepared and able to make their case clearly and concisely in order not to abuse their time."
He says IR is not a haphazard exercise for listed companies but a core function. However, he also thinks that many companies do not understand the importance of communications.
Bornozis advises clients they need to identify their target group of investors or analysts and need to approach them the way the investors want to be approached. "But whatever you communicate to them on a one-to-one basis, the same message needs to be communicated to the public at large," he said.
Shipping is a relatively new sector for the US markets and Bornozis believes that more than guiding clients, IR advisors also have a duty to help educate the public about the sector.
He believes that when a company has gone public, running its business effectively is not the only concern. The public image offers an important opportunity to maximise shareholder value. But, he warns, the company cannot rely entirely on its IR advisor and must be involved and make a time commitment.
Greek shipping companies, historically accustomed to very private - and in many cases publicity-shy operations - may be among the hardest to convince of the need for a pro-active approach to handing out information. "When something is public it is public. There is no such thing as a little bit pregnant," said Bornozis.
Source: www.tradewinds.no, Gillian Whittaker Athens, published: 29 July 2005


Shipping That's Not All In The Family
---In Greece, a new generation of tycoons is bringing transparency to an industry long shrouded in secrecy
Forget about Aristotle Onassis and Stavros Niarchos -- there's a new generation of Greek shipping tycoons in the making. Besides Pistiolis, it includes Nikolas P. Tsakos, 42, of Tsakos Energy Navigation Ltd. (TNP ); Victor S. Restis, 36, of Restis Group; and Angeliki Frangou, 40, of International Shipping Enterprises. These guys are just as comfortable around balance sheets as they are around ballast tanks. They hold degrees from foreign universities and sprinkle their conversations with Wall Street lingo, such as return on capital. Pistiolis' crowd generally keeps a low profile. Just about the only Greek shipping scion making headlines these days is Paris Latsis -- and that's only because the 27-year-old heir to a reported $7.5 billion shipping fortune is engaged to hotel heiress Paris Hilton. "The new generation of shipowners are better-educated and better-trained than Onassis and Niarchos were when they got started," says Nicholas Gage, author of Greek Fire, a biography of Onassis. "And they are running their companies on more sound business practices while seizing the opportunities the current shipping boom is providing."
The boom is being driven by surging demand for oil and other commodities in fast-growing economies such as China and India. That demand -- coupled with a short supply of sturdier, less polluting vessels -- has propelled oil-tanker rates to their highest level since the oil crisis of the 1970s. These trends have in turn bid up the shares of tanker companies, a business in which Greeks control close to one-third of the world's tonnage. The dry-bulk segment of the industry -- which covers grains, coal, and iron ore -- is also controlled by Greeks, and is also booming. DryShips Inc. (DRYS ), a Greek bulk carrier, raised $269 million in a February offering and just reported an 80% jump in first-quarter net income, to $19.1 million.
NEW SHIPS NEEDED
DryShips is one of a half-dozen Greek shippers that have floated shares in the past year, raising more than $1 billion among them. TOP Tankers' shares are up over 50% from an initial offering price of $11, and other shipping stocks are soaring, too. The IPOs are bringing new transparency to what was previously a murky business dominated by powerful families. "Family money and family management are no longer competitive with public markets," says James Christodoulou, chief financial officer for Prime Marine Management Inc., an unlisted Athens-based company.
The scramble for capital has intensified in the wake of environmental catastrophes such as the Exxon Valdez and Erika oil spills. "After the Exxon Valdez disaster, we could see that old ships would be phased out," says Tsakos. His company unloaded the last of its old, single-hulled vessels last year and has used the proceeds from the sale of its shares to buy a fleet of 25 vessels with an average age of just seven years -- all double-hulled, as required by European and U.S. regulators.
There are those who fear that a recent retreat in shipping rates could signal an end to the two-year-old, China-fueled boom. But those who track the industry say that with China's economy forecast to roar ahead at a 9.6% growth rate this year and India growing at 6.9%, tanker and dry-bulk demand will remain strong. For the new generation of Greek shipping executives, it looks like a smooth cruise ahead.
By Alkman Granitsas in Athens
Source: http://www.businessweek.com/magazine, 30 Jul 2005


MCCL bolsters its role in the Mediterranean car trades
---SET up 10 years ago by George Kavadas, MCCL Group has steadily strengthened its position in the Mediterranean car trades to the point where it believes it is now the biggest pure feeder operator for this type of traffic in the region.
MCCL operates a mix of chartered and owned tonnage and its most recent investment in strengthening its fleet was the acquisition last year of a second-hand ro-ro vessel, Sea Witch.
The company has also purchased its own office building in Piraeus. Future plans focus on the growth of its fleet and it expects to make further investments in additional tonnage according to market requirements.
Looking to the future, MCCL expects some significant changes in the market as several Far Eastern car makers set up production plants in Europe.
This trend, the company suggests, will lead to less transhipment activity in the region but also to a higher demand for ocean transport services between Mediterranean ports.
Source: Lloyds List, Feature, Thursday July 28 2005


Cadet training deficit
Naturally, Greek officers have become a threatened species, as the EU generally says about European officers in the merchant navy. And yet other countries are tackling the issue by opening alternative entry gates to the profession, with similar career development procedures.
High dropout rate
Source: http://www.ekathimerini.com, DIMITRIS KAPRANOS, 28 Jul 2005


Tall tales
---GO anywhere where shipping people gather, and you hear the same refrain - "It's the human factor that matters". But it's mostly just talk. Scratch the surface and the number of people who really care about seafarers is very thin indeed. There are too many badly paid, badly trained and badly treated seafarers, and too few owners and management companies prepared to train, pay and treat their seafarers like the vital link in the shipping chain that they are.
Many of you reading this might think there is little you can do to help seafarers. But all of you can help those who help them, by supporting the Mission to Seafarers. And you can have fun and a great experience while you do it.
The Mission still has four places left on a Tall Ships voyage from Portsmouth to Bilbao at the end of September. There will be no passengers on the 65 m, three-masted brig 'Tenacious' - just a real experience of the sea. Join in, have fun and raise cash to support the vital practical work the Mission does in ports all over the world.
Call Lizy Jones on 0207 248 5202 or e mail events@missiontoseafarers.org and ask about the Sailing Challenge. www.missiontoseafarers.org
Source: Maritime Advocate Online, Issue 215, July 26th, 2005


Greece: Labour bill expected to be adopted today
---Labour bill expected to be adopted today rounding up the current batch of reforms before the summer holidays.Under the new framework, employers will be able to ask staff to work up to ten hours in a single day, rather than the normal eight, in return for fewer hours on another day. Employees will have the right to refuse the request.
In companies with less than twenty employees and who are not members of a union, managers will be allowed to introduce flexible working hours, provided they have the consent of all the workers.
The Opposition is against this provision on the grounds that bosses will be able to intimidate workers, but the Government argues that doing away with the time-consuming intervention of trade unions will help small firms adapt more quickly and efficiently to changing market conditions.
Overtime pay for the first five hours of extra work will also be cut by half, i.e. workers will now be paid 25% more than their normal hourly rate.
In September, the Government can be expected to unveil new initiatives as far as public corporations are concerned (perhaps extending the end of lifelong tenure to a greater number of public utilities, along the lines of the recent changes brought to OTE telecoms; reforming the way public companies operate and are watched over by the authorities, with a view to improving coordination among the competent departments.
Source: www.reporter.gr, 10:02 - 27 July 2005 -


Kiperousa declared total loss
---THE log carrier Kiperousa, which has been aground off South Africa's Eastern Cape coast, south-west of East London, since 7 June, has been declared a total loss by insurers. This was after it became obvious that efforts to pull the ship clear on the weekend spring high tides were not succeeding, despite more than half the cargo having been removed ashore by heavy lift Mi26 helicopter. Specialists from South Africa's Maritime Safety Authority and the port of East London were on board the salvage tug Nicolay Chiker to assess the risks involved before taking the ship into East London harbour in the event of a successful refloating. It is understood the damage to the ship's hull is too great to ensure a successful salvage. A spokesman for the port of East London said efforts will now focus on transferring the balance of the cargo to a site that has been made available at the port.
Source: Lloyd's Register - Fairplay web links, 25 Jul 2005


Japanese maritime training vessel to vist Piraeus port next week
---The Japanese National Institute of Maritime Education's training vessel "Seiunmaru" will visit the port of Piraeus next week, an announcement by the Japanese Embassy in Athens said on Thursday.
Aboard the vessel will be 161 cadets who in the future will man merchant ships and will be trained in ocean-going travel.
The Seiunmaru is due to arrive in Piraeus on Monday, August 1, and remain there until Saturday, August 6.
The vessel left Japan on June 18 for a 75-day trip that will include visits to the US, the Panama Canal, Greece, Spain, the Suez Canal and Indonesia. Pireaus is the third port of call after San Diego (in the US) and Barcelona (Spain).
On the day of the ship's arrival, its captain will call on the mayor of Piraeus, and also host a reception attended by officials from Greece's merchant marine ministry, the Piraeus Port Authority, and shipowners, for an exchange of views.
Greece and Japan, two countries with a long maritime tradition, also share close ties of friendship, according to the embassy announcement.
Japan is also a regular participant, with a strong contingent, at the Poseidonia international shipping exhbition that is held in Pireaus every two years, and the promotion of friendship and exchange of views among cadets of the two countries is of great importance, according to the embassy announcement.
It added that the Japanese embassy's desire was to contribute to the greatest possible degree to the development of the cooperation between the two countries.
Source: http://www.ana.gr, Friday 29, July 2005


Intracom returns to telephony market
---Intarcom, the leading greek IT Group has entered the telephony market by aquiring 18% stake in Forthnet held by Minoan Lines at an estimated cost of 15 mil. euros Intracom agreed to aquire 3 mil. shares for 5,02 euros each i.e at a cost of 15 mil. euros.
However the deal is to be considered concluded in 3 days time since Forthnet's others shareholders may excersise their right of first refusal.
Intracom in the past also held an 8% in mobile operator "Panafon" now fully absorbed by Vodafone
Intracom is the largest Greek multinational information and communication technology integrated services provider Established in 1977 has a strong presence in Greek and international markets.
Its main business sectors are telecommunications, Government, Banking & Enterprise and Defense
It has subsidiaries in 16 countries, exports to 60 countries and its worlforce is estimated at 5450 of which 1800 are outside Greece. 60% are university/college degree holders with high scientific skills.
Forthnet is a fixed telephony and internet services provider, founded in 1995 by the Greek Research and Technology Institute and Minoan Lines.
Source: www.reporter.gr, 09:59 - 27 July 2005 -


Digital Ship Athens 2005
---On 18 &19 October 2005 we will be running our third annual Digital Ship Athens conference, in association with AMMITEC, the Athens-based shipping company IT managers association.
As with previous years there will be no admission charge for employees of ship operators and ship managers. Each event is designed to make it as easy as possible for shipping company employees to learn about the best IT hardware and software on offer, including satcoms and navigation technology, with a two day conference and exhibition featuring the worlds leading shipping IT, technical, operations and safety managers and the most innovative new products and services. Coffee, drinks receptions and (at most of our events) lunch will be held in the exhibition area.
SPEAKERS INCLUDE John Polimenakos, Seabourn Cruise Line, Miami (previously manager technical operations, Cunard Line) - Giancarlo Coletta, purchasing, maintenance engineering and cost control director, Grimaldi Naples - Adonis Violaris, manager of communications and public relations, Hanseatic Shipping - George Kyriakopoulos, IT manager, Naftomar - Wasim Kayani, Fleet IT manager, BP - Tasos Makris, IT manager, Gourdomichalis Maritime - Mike Kennedy, technical director, Hellespont - Lana S Al-Salem, IS manager, CTI Group Athanasios Rozakis, IT manager, Tsakos Hellas - Vassilis Kalapotharakos, IS manager, Pleiades Shipping Agents
For more information, visit: http://www.thedigitalship.com/conferences/athens/athens_about05.shtml
Source: http://www.thedigitalship.com