Greek Shipping News Cuts
Week 31 - 2005

 

Sea investment

---The services provided by Greece's coastal shipping lines this summer have led to legitimate protests from island residents and travelers. A report published in Kathimerini's Sunday edition highlighted that the services to and from the islands and the quality of the vessels themselves are worse than last year.
The deterioration is not the result of just one factor: Three ships were withdrawn after the firm that owns them became burdened with excessive debts. A number of ships are out of service because of their advanced age while others - most importantly a modern high-speed ferry - have been docked due to mechanical problems.
The introduction of a few new high-speed boats was not enough to cover the gaps. Moreover, high-speed ferries are more vulnerable to bad weather and more expensive to travel on, making them inaccessible to many frequent travelers. The Dodecanese Islands, to provide one example, are served by just one modern ship which is almost always overbooked. The three older boats also in service require many hours to reach the islands and lack basic facilities such as cabins.
All this is happening a year after the Olympic Games, when tourist demand is on the rise and the country aspires to reinforce the good show it put on last summer. The situation is disappointing. It is not just about poor preparation, it also shows fundamental confusion between the goals of welfare and development. Social reasons mandate that Greece makes sure the inhabitants of its many islands can travel to and from them at a reasonable cost and that supplies to island destinations are transported at a fair price. Being a country that relies on tourism, Greece should adopt a policy regarding services and tickets which would ensure the renewal of the fleet with modern ships that will be attractive to visitors. If the current situation continues and unless there are no incentives for new investments, 36 conventional ships (that is, half the current fleet) could be withdrawn after 2008.
Due to their high cost and inability to travel in poor weather, Greece cannot rely only on high-speed boats. High-speed boats must be able to write off their acquisition costs at a healthy rate but also have strong competition from conventional ships that will keep fares at reasonable prices. The current situation demonstrates that the state must re-evaluate its shipping policy by sponsoring not only certain services, but also the fares of the islands' permanent residents. The state must also provide incentives so that vessels of good quality can start running certain routes. The current services are embarrassing for a country that possesses the world's largest fleet.
http://info.ekathimerini.com/4dcgi/news/content.asp?aid=934495
Source: Kathimerini Greece, 2 Aug 2005


Investors shy off shipping
Shipping companies are going the way of the IPO, or are they?
Despite the continued IPO interest, in the last two months four companies have pulled plans to float
SHIPPING owners are putting the brakes on an IPO boom that has seen several Greek companies raise over a billion dollars in the New York capital market so far this year. Before a June 2 issuing by Aries Maritime Transport, which raised $152 million on the Nasdaq Stock Market, analysts were predicting that the increased difficulty shipowners have faced in selling shipping stock to investors would mean that Aries could be one of the last shipping IPOs.
Aries, an associate of Magnus Carriers of Kallithea, was the eighth Greek company to get a US listing. The sale of 12.4 million shares at $12.50 a share left the float somewhat below the original target of 15 million shares at $15 each, but still raised the capital for Aries' programmed expansion of its 10-ship fleet of bulk carriers.
Despite analysts' warnings, in the days following the Aries IPO, six Greek shipping companies filed documents with the US Security & Exchange Commission outlining plans to seek a US listing. Another three were trumpeting their intention of tapping the capital market for funds.
Indeed, shipowners were talking of raising a total of $2.5 billion. At a time when shipping is booming and there is a great deal of cash about, the queue of Greek shipping companies turning to non-shipping investors for funds has taken many by surprise. Shipowners are traditionally conservative, holding their cards close to their chest and thought unlikely to accept the transparency that goes with an IPO.
Those attitudes have been changing. In a booming freight market the demand for ships rises and so do prices for newbuildings and secondhand ships. The stock market is a new source of funds, where the investor, while sharing in the rewards, also shoulders the financial risk.
At the same time, an IPO enables the shipowner to reduce bank debt. In most IPOs those behind the float hold a portion of the stock themselves - in some cases as much as 50 percent - and they retain control of the company. In addition, a privately owned company usually takes a management role in the listed company.
Since the beginning of June, three more Greek controlled companies operating dry bulk ships have listed in the US, raising over $500 million: Genco Shipping & Trading, $220 million; Eagle Bulk Shipping, $180 million; and Quintana Maritime, $201 million This is along with the two companies that floated in 2005 prior to Aries - DryShips, $207 million, and Diana Shipping, $200 million. In total, Greek shipowners have raised $1.16 billion, so far this year.
Another four companies are planning a float, three in the US and one in London. Between them, they hope to raise $520 million.
Were the analysts wrong? Hardly
Despite the continued IPO interest, in the last two months four companies have pulled plans to float after deciding the economic conditions were not encouraging enough to proceed.
These four were to be among the largest flotations with a target of over $1 billion between them. In addition, two more ownerships have indicated they will not proceed with a share issue at this time.
Though the industry is still enjoying rewarding freight rates and solid profits, it is becoming more difficult to sell shipping to investors and that seems to be the main reason for the slowdown in offerings.
The most recent listing saw Genco Shipping & Trading begin trading on the Nasdaq on July 22 after pricing its IPO at $21 per share. Genco sold 11.8 million shares for a gross take of around $247 million and a net of around $220 million, with the proceeds to be used to pay down debt, incurred when the New York-based company purchased 16 bulkers ranging between 45,000 and 62,000-tonnes from Chinese interests for $420 million last November.
Registered in the Marshall Islands, the Peter Georgiopoulos-led Genco originally wanted between $24 and $26 a share, but dropped its expectations to $22/$23 before settling on $21.
Genco was the fifth consecutive shipping debutante to price an IPO below its original target price. After watching the Genco float, the powerful Restis group announced it was shelving IPO plans for Golden Energy Management "until at least September", and the Maranakis family was so discouraged it cancelled its planned $250 million IPO.
A week earlier, Quintana Maritime was also forced to lower its sights, the Glyfada-based bulk carrier operator accepted a pricing of $11.50 per share after originally targeting between $14 to $16. Led by Stamatis Molaris, former CFO of Stelmar Tankers, Quintana sold 16.7 million shares on the Nasdaq for net proceeds just below $180 million. Quintana has five bulkers of around 64,000-tonnes each and plans to acquire three more. However, to complete this purchase, the IPO shortfall means Quintana will borrow $95 million, instead of the $40 million anticipated.
Back in February, the investment climate was brighter as shipping enjoyed exceptionally strong earnings and investor interest was high.
In this climate, shipowner George Economou's debutante DryShips floated 13 million shares on the Nasdaq, raising $207 million. Unlike, Genco, Quintana and others, DryShips' share pricing was at the top end of the target range, $18, and the stronger-than-expected market interest saw the offer almost doubled from the original 7.1 million shares.
DryShips has not looked back and now runs a fleet of 26 bulk carriers of a total carrying capacity of 2.2 million deadweight. In addition, under the Drytank and Cardiff Marine banners, Economou has another 23 ships, tankers and bulkers of 2.7 million deadweight.
Global Oceanic Carriers, a new outfit, is looking outside the US and announced plans in March to raise 43 million pounds ($82 million) on London's Alternative Investment Market (AIM) to underwrite purchase of up to five bulk carriers.
Source: ATHENS NEWS , 05/08/2005, page: A21, Article code: C13142A211, by DAVID GLASS


Tough action threatened after spate of Greek ferry mishaps
---THE Greek ro-ro Aghios Efsta- thios, which hit a dock at Keratsini in greater Piraeus as it embarked on a trip carrying 38 trucks to Aegean islands on Wednesday, is the latest victim in a spate of mishaps that have plagued the country's ferry industry during the past week.
Officials said there were no injuries among the 25 crew and 10 passengers aboard the ferry, which started listing and has suspended sailings pending repair, necessitating a substitute vessel to be deployed to carry supplies to the eastern Aegean islands.
Several breakdowns suffered by regular ro-ro passenger ferries in recent days have blighted one of the busiest weeks in the season for hundreds of holidaymakers departing for the islands at the start of August.
The incidents have prompted Greece's shipping minister Manolis Kefaloyiannis to warn ferry operators that he will apply tough penalties for any failure to follow procedures.
Several ferries have suffered engine problems, while one was involved in a minor collision after its anchor chain fouled that of another vessel.
Source: www.lloydslist.com, By Nigel Lowry in Athens- Friday August 05 2005


Passenger Shipping: 'it is time for brave decisions'
---The time has come for the government to "make brave decisions" to ensure the future of Greece's domestic passenger ship services, according to shipping finance consultants XRTC Ltd. XRTC says, the government has to re-think its policy and move to harmonise it with that of the European Union, while at the same time ensure its social obligations to those living on Greece's hundreds of islands are covered.
"The Greek passenger ship sector is in a period of transition, or is it in a period of stagnation," asks XRTC is its annual review of the sector. Under the title 'Hellenic Passenger Shipping in 2005'
XRTC concludes the sector is sailing under a cloud, with many problems on the horizon, the biggest of them is "going to be a shortage of vessels and the lack of new investments in the sector". "The danger of not being able to cover the needs of the marketplace is very real," says XRTC.
Defining the Greek passenger sector is not easy, says the review. "Does the sector consist of floating bridges, having as the main goal the provision of a connection between the mainland and the islands which satisfies the needs of the country and the people on the islands, or, is the sector one of very expensive assets which must bring in money to provide an incentive to investors," asks XRTC.
The review says a two-tier market is being created, with very keen competition between the companies in each tier which have to operate in an unclear atmosphere because of state intervention. The review says owners are "under pressure and are not making profits" and still the state "intervenes at the economic and operational levels".
Developing the sector has led companies into trouble as big investments have been made, but the delay in adopting full liberalisation has compressed operators margins. "As a result, investments were unprofitable, bank loans have had to be restructured, and indeed investment has stopped," says XRTC.
The position will get worse if there is a shortage of vessels as may well happen under the government imposed 30-year age limit on ferries which will see over 50% of the present fleet withdrawn by 2008.
If this happens there will be reduced traffic movement within the network. However, subsidised routes will provide opportunities for operators, says XRTC.
The review concludes: "The general situation is showing signs of making a slow improvement and indeed a new reality is emerging."
Source: www.newsfront.gr, 5 Aug 2005


Universe Maritime under court embargo
--- A Spanish judge has decreed the embargo of the goods and accounts of the Greek company, Universe Maritime Ltd., owner of the tanker "Prestige", whose sinking in 2002 caused the worst oil slick of the history of Spain, it has been reported by a judicial source.
The judge believes that indications exist that the captain of the ship, Apostolous Mangouras, did not act alone during the crisis, but was supported by the company.
Up until now, five people are being processed over the "Prestige" sinking.
Source: http://www.bulletinpa.com, Posted: 2005 Aug 02 - 09:15


ANEK moves into cargo shipping
---Chania, Crete-based passenger ferry operator Anek Lines has said it will go into a non-domestic cargo shipping operation.
The company announced to the Athens Stock Exchange that it will hold a 70% share in the capital of the company to be set up, amounting to EUR 29,166 (almost $36,000).
Anek gave no details of the ships that would be employed in the service that is intended to connect Piraeus with Limassol in Cyprus and Haifa, Israel. The company operates a fleet of 11 ships, eight of which are ro-ros.
This is what Anek normally doesTwo months ago Greek Merchant Marine Minister Manolis Kefaloyannis said that Anek as well as the Cyprus-based Louis group had expressed interest in a passengership line linking Greece and Cyprus.
A number of changes have clearly been going on in Anek recently.
At the end of July it announced that it would terminate all financing of Rhodes-based passengership operator Dane Lines, in which it holds a 42% share.
The Cretan company said Dane had become problematical before Anek's present management took over and that they had "no intention of exposing the company and its shareholders to further commercial risks".
At the same time, fellow Cretan passenger shipping company Minoan Lines cashed in its whole 4.38% shareholding in Anek, realizing some EUR 2.5m.
In its first quarter results this year Anek showed long term debt totalling EUR 297.5m. It posted a net loss for the quarter of EUR 5.5m compared with EUR 6.2m in the corresponding period of 2004.
Source: www.tradewinds.no, By Gillian Whittaker from Athens, published: 16:34 GMT, 03 August 2005 | last updated: 16:34 GMT, 03 August 2005


GO Carriers Takes Ownership Of Its Third And Largest Vessel
In late June the Company announced that it had taken ownership of Go Faith, a Panamax vessel with 65,125 Dwt and GO Pride which is a 35,055 Dwt Handymax vessel. GO Pride is on long term charter with a daily rate of US$18,000 and GO Faith is currently operating in a spot charter market and the Directors intend to secure a long term charter for this vessel in the near term.
Research from Drewry Shipping Consultants forecasts that Panamax demand is forecast to grow to 3,153 billion tonne miles in 2005, recording a gain of 4.8% over 2004. By the end of the forecast period (2005-2009), it is expected to expand to 3,670 billion tonne miles, thereby registering an annual growth of 4.1%. Going forward the freight market is likely to remain firm during 2005 with certain spot market routes gaining.
Vassilis Vintiadis, Chief Executive Officer of GO Carriers, said: "We are delighted to have taken ownership of GO Public and this acquisition now brings our operational fleet to three vessels."
For further information:Global Oceanic Carriers Limited, Vassilis Vintiadis, Chief Executive Officer, Tel: +44 (0) 20 7398 7700, vassilis@gocarriers.com, www.gocarriers.com
Notes to editors
Global Oceanic Carriers Limited, is a new formed shipping company comprising of ship ownership, management and chartering. The company is based in Piraeus, Greece and incorporated in Jersey. The Company has paid a deposit to acquire four drybulk ships and will use the extensive shipping experience of the management and the dynamic market conditions to build a fleet for long term charter revenue.
The Company's initial fleet will comprise of three Panamax bulk carriers and one Handysize vessel with an aggregate carrying capacity of 235,883 Dwt. The Company will bring together the considerable shipping expertise and contacts of the Board, in particular the CEO, Vassilis Vintiadis, the founder and owner of Niva Shipping Limited a 27 year old shipping company based in Piraeus, Greece with strategic relationships primarily focused on China and India.
Drybulk ships carry cargo that is shipped in large volumes and can be easily stowed in a single hold including iron ore, coal and grain. Strong demand from Asia for these commodities has been the driving force behind the recent increase in seaborne drybulk trades. Between 1999 and 2004, trade in all drybulk commodities increased 25 per cent. In 2004, approximately 2.5 billion tons of drybulk cargo was transported by sea, comprising more than one-third of all international seaborne trade. Fuelling this growth has been the Far East which imports over half the worlds shipped coal and iron ore. This demand has led to a considerable shortage of drybulk ships with shipyards at full capacity until the end of 2007.
GO Carriers is listed on the AIM market, stock code GOC.L www.gocarriers.com
Source: ---LONDON, UNITED KINGDOM--(CCNMatthews - Aug. 1, 2005) - Global Oceanic Carriers Limited ("GO Carriers" or "the Company")(AIM:GOC), the AIM-listed Greek-based drybulk shipping company, today announces that on 29 July it took charge of its third vessel, the Marinchris which it acquired from Marinchrist Shipping Company Limited for a consideration of US$35.55 million. The Marinchris, which has been re-named GO Public, is a 71,761 Dwt Panamax vessel and is on a long term charter with a daily rate of US$34,500. Under a special arrangement negotiated by the management of GO Carriers, the Company has been receiving revenues of US$25,000 daily since the 5th of July 2005 until it took delivery of the vessel last week. GO Public will be managed by John J Rigos Marine Enterprises S.A.


Excel Maritime Announces New Composition of Majority Independent BoD
Gabriel Panayiotides, Chairman and Director
Christopher Georgakis, President, Chief Executive Officer and Director
George Agadakis, Vice President, Chief Operating Officer and Director
Frithjof Platou, Independent Non - Executive Director
Evangelos Macris, Independent Non - Executive Director
Apostolos Kontoyannis, Independent Non - Executive Director
Trevor J. Williams, Independent Non - Executive Director
Chief Executive Officer Christopher Georgakis commented: "We are particularly pleased with the composition of the new Board under whose stewardship we expect to continue growing successfully. The formation of a majority independent Board is consistent with the company's commitment to achieving the highest standards of corporate governance and delivering shareholder value."
Background on New Board Members:
Mr. Frithjof Stoud Platou, a Norwegian citizen, has broad experience in shipping and project finance, ship broking, ship agency and trading, and has served on the Boards of several companies in the U.K. and Norway. Since 1984, he manages his own financial consulting and advisory company, Stoud & Co. Limited, specialising in corporate and project finance for the shipping, offshore oil & gas and various other industries. He was head of the shipping and offshore departments at Den Norske Creditbank and Nordic Bank as well as at American Express Bank. Mr. Platou holds a degree in Business Administration from the University of Geneva, speaks and writes fluent Norwegian, English, French and German, has a reasonable knowledge of Spanish and a basic understanding of Japanese.
Mr. Evangelos Macris is a member of the Bar Association of Athens and is the founding partner of Evangelos S. Macris Law Office, a Piraeus-based office specializing in Shipping Law. He holds a degree in Economics and Political Science from the Pantion University in Athens and a Law Degree from the University of Athens, as well as a post-graduate degree in Shipping Law from the University of London, University College.
Mr. Apostolos Kontoyannis is the Chairman of Investments and Finance Ltd., a financial consultancy firm he founded in 1987, that specializes in financial and structuring issues relating to the Greek maritime industry, with offices in Piraeus and London. Previously, he was employed by Chase Manhattan Bank N.A. in Frankfurt (Corporate Bank), London (Head of Shipping Finance South Western European Region) and Piraeus (Manager, Ship Finance Group) from 1975 to 1987. Mr. Kontoyannis holds a bachelor's degree in Finance and Marketing and an M.B.A. in Finance from Boston University.
The background of all directors and officers can be found at the corporate website of Excel Maritime, www.excelmaritime.com, under the section "The Company."
About Excel Maritime Carriers Ltd
The Company is an owner and operator of dry bulk carriers and a provider of worldwide seaborne transportation services for dry bulk cargoes, such as iron ore, coal and grains, as well as bauxite, fertilizers and steel products. The company's current fleet consists of 18 vessels (one Capesize, ten Panamax and seven Handymax vessels) with a total carrying capacity of 1,112,070 dwt. The Company was incorporated in 1988 and its common stock is listed on the American Stock Exchange (AMEX) since 1998, trading under the symbol EXM. For more information about the company, please go to our corporate website www.excelmaritime.com
Forward-Looking Statement
This press release contains forward-looking statements (as defined in Section 27A of the Securities Act of 1933, as amended, and Section 21E of the Securities Exchange Act of 1934, as amended) concerning future events and the Company's growth strategy and measures to implement such strategy; including expected vessel acquisitions and entering into further time charters. Words such as "expects," "intends," "plans," "believes," "anticipates," "hopes," "estimates," and variations of such words and similar expressions are intended to identify forward-looking statements. Although the Company believes that the expectations reflected in such forward-looking statements are reasonable, no assurance can be given that such expectations will prove to have been correct. These statements involve known and unknown risks and are based upon a number of assumptions and estimates which are inherently subject to significant uncertainties and contingencies, many of which are beyond the control of the Company. Actual results may differ materially from those expressed or implied by such forward-looking statements. Factors that could cause actual results to differ materially include, but are not limited to changes in the demand for dry bulk vessels, competitive factors in the market in which the Company operates; risks associated with operations outside the United States; and other factors listed from time to time in the Company's filings with the Securities and Exchange Commission. The Company expressly disclaims any obligations or undertaking to release publicly any updates or revisions to any forward-looking statements contained herein to reflect any change in the Company's expectations with respect thereto or any change in events, conditions or circumstances on which any statement is based.
www.excelmaritime.com
SOURCE: Excel Maritime
Source: ---PIRAEUS, GREECE -- (MARKET WIRE) -- 08/02/2005 -- 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 cargoes, announced today the appointment of three new members on its Board of Directors. The new appointees, Mr. Frithjof Platou, Mr. Evangelos Macris and Mr. Apostolos Kontoyannis, will be replacing outgoing directors Christopher Thomas and Eleftherios Papatrifon. Mr. Papatrifon will remain as the company's Chief Financial Officer. The new appointments will result in a majority independent Board of Directors for Excel Maritime consisting of the following members:


TOP Tankers Files Universal Shelf Registration
---ATHENS, Greece, Aug. 1 /PRNewswire-FirstCall/ -- TOP Tankers Inc (Nasdaq: TOPT), announced today that it has filed a $250 million universal shelf registration statement with the Securities and Exchange Commission. The filing will allow TOP Tankers to periodically offer common stock, preferred shares, debt securities, warrants, purchase contracts, units or any combination of the above, up to a total amount of $250 million. In addition, one or more of the Company's shareholders may periodically offer up to approximately 4.8 million shares of common stock. At the present time these shareholders have advised the Company that they have no immediate plans to offer any of these shares.
Proceeds from any offering, except from the selling shareholders, may be used to finance future acquisitions and for general corporate purposes.
The Company has no immediate plans to access the capital markets. This shelf registration will provide TOP Tankers with maximum flexibility as it explores various future acquisition opportunities for the long-term benefit of its shareholders.
The registration statement relating to these securities has been filed with the SEC but has not yet become effective. These securities may not be sold, nor may offers to buy be accepted, prior to the time the registration statement becomes effective.
This news release does not constitute an offer to sell or the solicitation of an offer to buy any securities issuable pursuant to the registration statement, nor will there be any sale of these securities in any state or jurisdiction in which such offer, solicitation or sale would be unlawful prior to registration or qualification under the securities laws of any such state or jurisdiction.
About TOP Tankers Inc
TOP Tankers Inc is an international provider of worldwide seaborne transportation services of bulk commodities. The Company owns and operates a fleet of 22 tankers transporting crude oil and refined petroleum products. The fleet consists of nine double-hull Suezmax tankers and 13 double-hull Handymax tankers, with a total carrying capacity of approximately 2.0 million dwt of which 95.2 percent are sister ships. Eighteen of the Company's 22 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: www.toptankers.com


Aries trades up after its IPO
---Aries Maritime Transport, which raised over $150M in last month's IPO, may be a Wall Street newcomer but president Mons Bolin reminds Fairplay that its predecessor, Aries Energy, has been around for 15 years.
Like others making their NASDAQ debuts recently, product tanker and container ship owner Aries was ultimately forced to temper its fund-raising aspirations in the face of wavering investor sentiment. Its original filing suggested hopes for as much as $275M, including $75M for selling shareholders, who eventually pocketed $17.5M.
"Yes, the IPO process was more difficult than we anticipated, but we are determined people," says Bolin. "We felt it was best for us - and for the industry - that we forge ahead and not postpone the IPO." He acknowledges that "there was a little bit of bargaining going on, but we did succeed in pricing at a level that left something on the table for investors". Indeed, shares of Aries are on the up from their $12.50 offer price, closing at $14.90 on 28 July, in contrast to shares of other recent IPOs that have languished beneath their initial pricing. Bolin's passion for the business comes through clearly as he recounts Aries' path from private company to listed entity. During 2003, he explains, Aries Energy began acquiring vessels in two sectors with very strong supply/demand fundamentals: product tankers and small container ships.
Bolin and partner Gabriel Petridis had years of experience in the product tanker sector, which was targeted by Aries "because it works on fundamentals that have led increasingly to worldwide imbalances", which in turn have precipitated more long-haul movement of refined products. "These imbalances create arbitrage situations where there is a temporary extra demand," notes Bolin. Meanwhile, Aries' appreciation of the strong demand growth in the container business arose from Bolin's earlier experience in the reefer trades. After witnessing the migration of refrigerated cargo to containers, he concluded: "If you can't beat them, join them." The decision to go the IPO route dawned gradually as the business was built up during 2003 and 2004, but was driven in part by the IPO fervour that began to take root last year. In the end, Aries realised that its strong fundamentals and timecharter coverage would be attractive to investors who were increasingly taking note of what Bolin calls "our ugly duckling industry".
While some question the wisdom of launching 'mixed' companies that straddle multiple shipping sectors (see Fairplay, 21 July, p4), Bolin likens Aries' tanker/box-ship combo to that of an athlete "standing on two strong legs", stressing there are no future plans to split up the company. Among financial managers, there is also considerable debate on the subject of shipping dividend policies. As for Aries' own aggressive strategy - an initial $0.52/share dividend covering May-September 2005, followed by quarterly dividends of available cash flow - Bolin believes that "investors may be better at managing cash than we are". Yet Aries will remain ready to swoop on the "right acquisition in our target sector", says Bolin. The president hints that a large future acquisition could be funded by a combination of debt and a secondary offering, while both Bolin and CFO Richard Coxall cite Aries' substantial credit line. Its years of experience have translated into long-term relationships with strong charterers and Bolin envisions situations when "a charterer's T/C requirement for a vessel is what actually points us towards an acquisition". "If there is a downturn," asserts Coxall, "we are very well positioned and we can strike quickly."
COMPANY PROFILE:
Full company name:Aries Maritime Transport Ltd.
Founded:January 2005, Bermuda
Head office:Athens
Traded:NASDAQ, under symbol 'RAMS'
Executives:Mons Bolin, CEO/president; Richard Coxall, CFO/chief accounting officer; Per Olav Karlsen, chairman Fleet:Seven double-hull product tankers (4 MR, 2 Panamax, 1 Aframax), total 391,124dwt; five container ships (from 1,799TEU to 2,917TEU), total 12,509TEU.
Source: Fairplay International Shipping Weekly, 04 Aug 2005


TEN Reports 39% Increase and Record Profits Q2
---Tsakos Energy Navigation Limited reported results (unaudited) for the second quarter and first six months of 2005 according to which Net income was $41.90 million in the second quarter of 2005, compared to $30.16 million in the second quarter of 2004, an increase of 38.9%.
Revenues, net of voyage expenses and commissions, were $53.77 million in the second quarter of 2005 versus $54.32 million in the like period of 2004. Income before depreciation charges was $50.76 million in the second quarter of 2005 up from $39.07 million in the second quarter of 2004. Gains on vessel sales were $19.64 million in the second quarter of 2005 and $8.76 million in the year earlier quarter.
Net income in the first half of 2005 rose to $81.75 million from $63.55 million in the first half of 2004. Revenues, net of voyage expenses and commissions, were $120.52 million for the first six months of 2005, compared with $122.88 million for the first half of 2004. Income before depreciation charges was $99.17 million the first half of 2005 up from $81.15 million in the year earlier period. Gains on vessel sales totalled $24.84 million in the first six months of 2005 and $8.76 million in the first half of 2004.
Revenues, net of voyage expenses and commissions, were $120.52 million for the first six months of 2005, down $2.37 million or 1.9% from the year earlier period reflecting the deployment of 26.6 vessels versus 27.7 vessels.
The average time charter equivalent per ship per day rose to $27,883 in the 2005 period versus $26,744 a year earlier. Of the five classes of ships in our fleet, four enjoyed higher rates in the 2005 period while only one experienced marginally lower charter rates. Fleet productivity remained high in the first six months of 2005 at 95.3% but somewhat below the 97.2% performance of the first half of 2004 reflecting a heavier dry docking experience in the second quarter of 2005.
Vessel operating expenses per ship per day rose from $5,993 for the first half of 2004 to $6,430 in the 2005 period reflecting the cost pressures of crew expense, insurance premiums, repairs and provisions and the weak dollar.
The average value of the dollar against the Euro was 4.7% lower in the first half of 2005 compared with the year earlier levels.
Approximately 25% of TEN's operating costs are denominated in Euros.
Depreciation and dry-docking amortization costs were $20.18 million in the 2005 period versus $22.39 million in the first half of 2004. Management fees were $2.78 million compared to $2.51 million in the first half of 2004 reflecting contract adjustments while general and administrative costs were $1.39 million as against to $1.28 million.
Interest and finance costs, net of interest income, declined to $2.57 million from $5.08 million, reflecting much higher cash levels and benefits from interest rate swaps.
Since 1997, TEN has aggressively expanded and modernized its fleet. The Company has ordered in total 33 newbuildings with a combined capacity of 3.6 million dwt and has taken delivery of 21 of these, plus one second-hand VLCC.
An additional 12 vessels are scheduled for delivery in 2005, 2006, and 2007. TEN sold three vessels in 2004 including one single-hull ship. An additional single-hull aframax and two single/double hull product carriers were sold in the first half of 2005 along with a new building contract for an aframax.
Its building program and fleet portfolio strategy has been structured in response to the evolving needs of its clients and the development of new trade routes. The emphasis on ice-class vessels is designed to serve the rapidly expanding needs of Russia, Canada, and Alaska. success and an integral aspect of a traditional shipping enterprise".
TEN expects to operate a fleet of 38 vessels of 4.1 million dwt by mid- 2007. Currently it operates a fleet of 26 vessels (including three chartered- in, one Aframax and two Suezmaxes vessels) of approximately 2.9 million dwt with an average age of 6.6 years compared to 12 years of the world average.
Its newbuilding program today consists of 12 vessels (5 Suezmax, 2 Aframax, 4 Handysize, 1 LNG) of 1.2 million dwt.
TEN is also seeking appropriate opportunities in other energy related sectors and has recently made a $5 million investment in the owning company of a drilling rig currently under construction in S. Korea.
Source: www.reporter.gr, 09:49 - 05 August 2005