Greek Shipping News Cuts
Week 34 - 2005

 

Shipping sector readies for new EU strategy

---Representatives of European shipowners' organizations and the European Commission will launch deliberations in coming months to thrash out a Green Code which will set a strategy for the industry.
Greek shipowners, with the biggest fleet in Europe, and their European peers hope that this initiative will improve both the competitiveness and the image of the industry on the continent.
Members of the Union of Greek Shipowners (EEE) recently had the opportunity to present to EU officials in Brussels their positions on the issue.
"We take the view that European Union initiatives to date have been in the opposite direction of improving the conditions for shipping, being essentially focused on measures designed to protect the environment from the shipping activity, without any concern for the industry itself," a EEE source said.
Image hit
In its annual report, EEE notes that the image of the industry in the EU has suffered greatly in the last five years, and unfavorable legislation has been drafted following the accidents of the tankers Erika and Prestige, and the ecological disaster caused by the Spanish authorities' handling of the latter. These two incidents, the report says, gave rise to the adoption of measures by the EU that diverge from the international legal framework for the industry. These measures expedited the withdrawal of single-hulled tankers - earlier than envisaged in the timetable of the International Maritime Organization (IMO) - and introduced penal clauses for accidental pollution of the sea, in digression of the international Marpol convention.
The EEE report warns that an important repercussion of these measures will be to discourage shipowners from investing in new vessels and young people from entering the profession. Further, they will not be effective in preventing maritime accidents and pollution.
Counterproposals
"The building of more suitable ships, the introduction of specific regimes for refuge areas and proper crisis management in cases of accidents, as well as the creation of adequate reception installations would be much more effective measures," EEE members tell Kathimerini.
The same sources argue that "such unilateral decisions are not in line with statements and promises by European officials referring to the need for making Europe a pole of attraction for investment, or to promises that all measures will be adopted after an assessment of their impact on EU competitiveness."
EEE members further argue that sustainable development is based on three axes - competitiveness, environment and employment - but that without development we can neither protect the environment nor create jobs. They further stress that without European ship officers, maritime activities will be transferred to other regions of the world that have more favorable business conditions.
"The European Union, compared to the US and China, lags in competitiveness and economic growth, not in environmental and social protection... Unfortunately, Europe is excessively punitive of shipping entrepreneurs, who are among the traditionally most successful in the world. European politicians must restore the balance among the three axes of sustainable development, which has been seriously upset in the case of sea transport," an EEE official argues.
EEE is in full agreement with IMO's secretary general Efthymios Mitropoulos, who has urged lawmakers to evaluate the sustainable development of shipping on the basis of its contribution to the global economy, rather than any damage it may cause.
"Sea transport has long been the most economical method of transporting goods in a way that is safe, efficient and friendly to the environment. It maintains a whole range of activities, creating employment at sea and on-shore... Let such views be taken seriously into account by the specially set up group of European commissioners who will formulate the EU's future shipping policy," the EEE members add.
Source: By Nikos Bardounias - Kathimerini, http://www.ekathimerini.com, Date: 8-25-2005


New generation opens windows
---It's easy to talk about 'secretive' Greeks but the next in line are letting more light in.
Shipping, like any other sector, has its stereotypes. For many years, there has been a tendency to refer to the interests behind the massive Greek-controlled merchant fleet simply as "the Greeks".
But such a blanket label lumps the good in with the bad. And it should come as no surprise to anyone that no two Greek shipping companies are the same.
Some are in the forefront of technical and technological developments, some are setting the benchmarks for financial deals and some, unfortunately, are still living with the mentality of the 1970s as regards the running of their companies and their willingness to divulge even the smallest morsel of information concerning their operations, even if they have absolutely nothing to hide.
A shipping journalist steps out in the knowledge that if he or she is doing their job as it should be done, there is an automatic gulf between them and the shipowner.
What the journalist seeks is information that, in most cases, owners would love to read if it concerned a competitor but certainly not if it concerned their own company.
On one occasion, prefacing a call to the in-house broker of a well-known and reputable Greek company with a cheery "How are you?", the corresponden got an instant "No comment".
Yes, it can be that bad.
But overall, things are changing. A younger generation is bringing to the public the concept of shipping as a vital, modern, international but capital-intensive industry, rather than a private family affair.
First indications of this came in the 1990s, when the sons of two very famous owners started looking at the public-money arena.
Nikolas Tsakos, son of Captain Panayiotis Tsakos, braved the sector in 1993, listing Maritime Investment Fund (MIF), later to become Tsakos Energy Navigation (TEN), first in Bermuda, then in Oslo, and finally in 2002 on the New York Stock Exchange (NYSE).
Stelios Haji-Ioannou, son of the "tanker king" of the 1980s, Loucas Haji-Ioannou, took his company Stelmar Shipping public on the NYSE in 2001, after several years of pondering various options, including the Cyprus Stock Exchange.
It may be pure coincidence that both Tsakos and Haji-Ioannou gained their master's degrees at the now famous Shipping, Trade and Finance course offered by London's City University Business School.
The past 18 months have seen many more Greek companies going public, mainly in New York, and still more are believed to have that aim, with all the disclosure that it necessitates.
First, they face their underwriters, lawyers, accountants and the US Securities and Exchange Commission watchdog. Then there are investors and - take a deep breath here - the public, who have to be informed about the most intimate details of financing, charter agreements and operating expenses, not to mention directors' fees and other hitherto very private details.
This is not an easy transition for the traditional low-profile Greek owner. Indeed, some have even admitted in private conversations that although they have all the other prerequisites for a listing, they are not yet psychologically prepared to face such a complete baring of their souls.
For several years, much discussion has gone on in the shipping community about enhancing the industry's image, often provoking comments that shipowners patting themselves on the back about their high standards is just preaching to the converted. It seems self-evident to an industry journalist that one way of improving the industry's image is a free flow of information. If companies come out of the closet and respond promptly and fully to questions posed, that of itself shows a willingness to bear examination, which in turn creates a positive impression.
Admittedly, companies that do go public have already at least straddled, if not jumped, the psychological hurdle of disclosure. Quite a few of the younger generation of Greek shipping families are overturning their parents' no-publicity policies and starting to make information available, whether through press releases or through a growing number of company websites.
However, the small owners whose one or two-vessel enterprises still make up almost 42% of the entire Greek-managed fleet, according to recent research by Athens analyst Petrofin, are still frequently "in a meeting", "out of the office" or otherwise unavailable to take a telephone call from the press.
Maybe their reluctance is simply the product of uncertainty as to how to deal with an unknown quantity. But, somehow, they should be made aware of the negative image they are creating, not only for themselves but for "the Greeks" as a whole.
Source: www.tradewinds.no, Gillian Whittaker's Wavelength, published: 26 August 2005


Caspi inaugurated a new Ro Ro service - Haifa - Limassol - Piraeus
---Caspi shipping through its subsidiary Caspi shipping RoRo services Ltd inaugurated last week a weekly RoRo service from Haifa via Limassol to Piraeus. From Piraeus cargo will be dispatched overland to Italy and European destinations.
The inauguration of the new RoRo service was made possible following an agreement which was signed between Caspi shipping RoRo services Ltd and the vessels owners Champion Ferries a subsidiary of the Greek's Anek Lines which operate fast RoRo services to Italy and Cyprus.
The new service will run two RoRo vessels which will provide a fixed day call at the three ports, Piraeus on Monday, Limassol on Wednesday and Haifa on Thursday. Israeli foreign trade community will be able to ship at highly competitive rates full trailers as well dry and reefer containers.
Caspi Shipping is one of Israel's oldest shipping agents. The company was set up in 1909.
Source: http://www.port2port.com, Aug 22, 2005


NEL claims over problem-hit fast ferry engines
The three Corsaire-type fast monohull ferries were built for NEL at Alstom subsidiary Alstom Leroux Naval in western France in 2000 and 2001, but have reportedly been plagued with problems ever since.
This summer the two smaller vessels, Aeolos Express and Aeolos Express II, have been laid up in the port of Lavrion, while only the Aeolos Kenteris - the largest of the trio with capacity for 1,800 passengers and 400 cars - has been operating in the peak season.
According to the Lesvos island-based company's announcement, the ships have suffered breakdowns since the first year of operations, causing "significant problems" in the running of the company.
In the first trading sessions since the news of the claim broke, NEL's shares rose 17.65% on the Athens Stock Exchange on Monday, then added a further 7.5% in trading yesterday.
The company, which also operates three conventional ro-ro passenger ferries, said it was seeking redress for alleged economic damage as well as alleged harm to its reputation with customers, partners and shareholders.
A source close to the company told Lloyd's List that NEL has recently halted loan repayments to a consortium of banks that financed the ships' construction under France's Coface financing scheme.
This could not be immediately confirmed with NEL executives yesterday.
Separately, NEL was involved in a further breakdown drama at the weekend when one of its older ferries, the 1976-built Taxiarchis , was obliged to return to Chios after reporting damage in its left main engine.
The vessel embarked again on its voyage to Piraeus with more than 500 passengers, only to suffer a recurrence of the breakdown and arrive several hours late.
On Monday night the Taxiarchis missed its scheduled return sailing from Piraeus, forcing NEL to transfer passengers to two of its other vessels.
Source: www.lloydslist.com, By Nigel Lowry in Athens- Wednesday August 24 2005


Global Oceanic Carriers Limited: Market Update
---Global Oceanic Carriers Limited (AIM:GOC), the AIM-listed Greek-based drybulk shipping company, today welcomes the news that the Baltic Dry Index has risen by 41.8% since the beginning of August. The recovery, which the Company had forecasted, saw the Index at 2478 on August 19th representing a considerable improvement since its year low of 1747.
Vassilis Vintiadis, Chief Executive Officer of GO Carriers, said: "Charter rates are rising after the anticipated July seasonal low and the revival of the market during August clearly indicates the Chinese iron ore imports to rise /expand as the country is currently in a de-stocking phase. The outlook of Chinese imports spells optimism for the Shipowners as the trade volume will pick up and consequently the freights will improve."
Note 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: http://www.gocarriers.com, 22 August 2005


Quintana Maritime Completes Initial Fleet
---Quintana Maritime Limited (QMAR), an international provider of dry bulk cargo marine transportation services, announced that it has taken delivery of another Panamax vessel, Linda Leah, with a carrying capacity of 73,390 deadweight tons (dwt).
Linda Leah will operate under a three-year time charter at a net daily rate of USD23,750 with Fratelli D' Amato, a major Italian charterer and shipowner.
Stamatis Molaris, the CEO of Quintana Maritime commented "With the delivery of Linda Leah we now have in place our initial fleet of 8 Panamax vessels. Quintana has a fleet of young and modern large Panamax vessels, which presents us with a competitive advantage in the dry bulk market.
Linda Leah is a sister ship with the Panamax vessel Barbara, already in Quintana's fleet. In our total fleet of 8 vessels, we have two sets of sister ships, the first with four vessels (Iron Man, Fearless 1, Coal Age, Coal Glory) and the other with two (Linda Leah and Barbara). Sister ships indicate vessels of the same class made in the same shipyard. The sister ship concept further enhances our operational flexibility.
We are also pleased that in conformity with our strategy to secure long term employment for our vessels and provide our investors with predictable cash flows, Linda Leah will operate under a three-year time charter at a very attractive rate."
About Quintana Maritime Limited
Quintana Maritime Limited, based in Greece, is an international provider of dry bulk cargo marine transportation services. The company currently owns and operates a fleet of 8 Panamax size vessels with a total carrying capacity of 585,072 dwt and an average age of approximately 8 years.
Source: press release, ATHENS, Greece, Aug 22, 2005 (BUSINESS WIRE) --


Quintana and TBS also Get Jefferies Buy
---Jefferies Maritime Group gave Quintana Maritime, which is trading down near $11.30, a price target of $16 and a projected dividend yield of 11.7%. Jefferies anticipates Quintana will declare dividends totaling $1.32 for 2006, but points out that while its fleet of eight dry bulk vessels may be chartered 100% through 2005, 30% of its operating days remain uncovered for 2006. That said, Jefferies believes the dry sector has been given a boost through China's actions to avoid an economic "hard landing" which should keep demand for Quintana's panamax bulk fleet firm.
At TBS Jefferies levels another Buy basis the company's discount to peers, strong industry fundamentals, the company's strength in its growing niche markets and the economic flexibility the company enjoys which can facilitate growth. Trading at $10.66 Jefferies looks for a price of $17 per share. Interestingly, as with Frontline, Jefferies declines to provide a NAV per share for the company due to the nature of the company's business. Rather, the analysts target a higher valuation for the company based on EPS, CFPS and EV/EBITDA multiples. This is yet another step in allowing shipping companies to be valued on cash flow rather than NAV - something for that is in many ways more fair for some shipping companies, but which also has the potential to encourage volatility.
Source: Freshly Minted, www.marinemoney.com, 24 Aug 2005


Dryships Inc. Takes Delivery of its 27th Vessel
---DryShips Inc. (Nasdaq: DRYS), announced today that it has taken delivery of the 27th vessel of its fleet, which was the last of the 10 Additional Vessels that the company had acquired.
M.V. "Conrad Oldendorff", a 2002 built 76,623 dwt Panamax bulkcarrier, was delivered to DryShips Inc. on Monday 22nd August and immediately went on charter to Oldendorff Carriers Gmbh & Co. KG at a daily timecharter rate of $42,000.
It was intended that DryShips rename the vessel to M.V. "Mendocino", however at the request of the charterers the Company has agreed to retain the name "Conrad Oldendorff".
Mr. George Economou, Chairman and Chief Executive Officer of DryShips stated that: "We are pleased to have taken delivery of "Conrad Oldendorff" and to have completed our initial investment program of 21 vessels. Out fleet now consists of 27 dry bulk carriers with a total capacity of 2.3 million dwt and an average age of 10 years. We are the second largest Panamax operators in the world. The addition of "Conrad Oldendorff" to our fleet will provide the Company with stable and profitable earnings under her present charter".
UPDATED FLEET PROFILE: http://www.dryships.com/ir.cfm
Source: www.dryships.com, August 25, 2005 ATHENS, Greece


Hibernia Southcoast Capital Initiates Coverage on Excel Maritime (EXM)
---NEW YORK, NY -- (MARKET WIRE) -- 08/25/2005 -- Hibernia Southcoast Capital initiated coverage of DryShips, Inc. (NASDAQ: DRYS) with a Buy recommendation and a $22 price target. The analysts are Pierre E. Conner III and Joseph D. Gibney.
DryShips Inc., based in Greece, is an owner and operator of drybulk carriers that operate worldwide. It owns a fleet of 26 drybulk carriers and has entered into an agreement to purchase an additional vessel that is scheduled for delivery during August, 2005. Upon delivery of this vessel, DryShips will own and operate 4 Capesize, 21 Panamax and 2 Handymax vessels, with a combined deadweight tonnage of approximately 2.3 million. It is the second largest Panamax operator in the world. The company's vessels transport major bulk commodities such as iron ore, coal, grain and minor bulks such as fertilizer, bauxite and cement.
The report highlights the anticipated acceleration in demand for drybulk shipping in the second half of the year, driven by worldwide demand for iron ore, particularly in the fourth quarter. While rates have dropped off dramatically from 4Q04 peaks, they still remain above the seven- and 10-year averages, and Hibernia feels that they should trend up once again, particularly given an improving 2006 in the supply-and-demand balance. The report notes the seasonal ramp up of rates in the third and fourth quarters and estimates daily rates in the third quarter 2005 to be at $32,000 for Capesize vessels, $15,500 for Panamax and $15,000 for Handymax, while in the fourth quarter the estimates are at $38,500, $17,500 and $16,500 respectively.
Hibernia believes that the Panamax vessel is the workhorse of the drybulk fleet, and with 21 Panamax vessels, DryShips is now poised to further consolidate this mid-sized segment of the world fleet which remains highly fragmented.
According to the report DryShips is trading below its initial offering price of $18 and Hibernia's NPV-based target price of $22. DryShips currently trades at 4.3x Hibernia's 2005 EPS estimate of $3.88 and 3.0x their 2005 CFPS estimate of $5.46. The analysts estimate that DryShips will achieve EBITDA of $46.8 million in 3Q05 and $50.5 million in 4Q05 (compared to $61.5 million in the first half of 2005), commensurate with the anticipated turn in rates in the back half of the year. Hibernia anticipates DryShips closing 4Q05 with total debt of $418.1 million and a debt/total capital ratio of 60.0% (58.1% net debt/total capital). On June 30th, 2005, DryShips had total debt of $547.7 million, and a debt/total capital ratio of 63.6% (60.9% net debt/total capital)
Also mentioned in the report, DryShips paid its first quarterly dividend of $0.20 in July. On an annualized basis, this represents an approximate yield of 4.8%. Hibernia's EPS estimates are $0.74 for 3Q05 and $0.87 for 4Q05.
The report also focuses on DryShips' balanced spot versus time-charter strategy and estimates that the company will operate 60% of its total fleet in the spot market (16 vessels out of 27). The analysts believe that this approach provides the company with a good deal of earnings visibility going forward with 40% of the fleet on time charter (albeit of shorter durations, usually a year or less) but still provides exposure to an expected rise in the rates moving into 2006. Ten of DRYS vessels are expected to operate in the Baumarine spot pool, a pooling entity that outperformed the market by an estimated $1,000 per day in 2004 and $5,095 per day in the first half of 2005. All vessels in Baumarine pool their earnings reducing each shipowner's individual risk.
Furthermore, according to the report, despite the large expansion of its fleet, DryShips retains a sound balance sheet that provides for the possibility of opportunistic acquisitions or further expansion down the road.
DryShips is actively followed by analysts at four firms, Cantor Fitzgerald, Dahlman Rose, Hibernia Southcoast Capital and Jefferies. All four have Buy ratings on the stock with target prices at $21, $25, $22 and $30 respectively. DryShips' shares closed at $16.61 on Monday, August 22nd, 2005.
Written by Capital Link.
For more information, please contact Nicolas Bornozis, nbornozis@capitallink.com.
This article was written by Capital Link, a financial communications and investor relations company, which services several listed companies, including DryShips.
Disclaimer:
The information presented in this document is for information purposes only. It was prepared based on information sources we believe to be reliable, but we make no representation as to the accuracy or completeness of the information contained therein. Reference of the above material does not imply its endorsement or concurrence with such information, conclusions or recommendations and Capital Link and/or its clients cannot be held responsible in anyway for these. This document is not to be construed as investment advice of any kind or as an offer to buy, sell or in any way transact in any security.
Source: http://www.marketwire.com,


International Shipping Enterprises Announces Completion of Acquisition of Navios Maritime Holdings Inc.
---NEW YORK, Aug. 25 /PRNewswire/ -- International Shipping Enterprises, Inc. (the "Company") (OTC Bulletin Board: ISHPU.OB - News, ISHP.OB - News, ISHPW.OB - News) announced today that it had closed the acquisition of Navios Maritime Holdings Inc. ("Navios") and completed the reincorporation of the Company from the State of Delaware to the Republic of Marshall Islands. Although the Company will continue to trade over the counter, its ticker symbols will change, starting on August 26, 2005, to its new ticker symbols "NMHUF.OB" (Units), "NMHIF.OB" (Common Stock) and "NMHWF.OB" (Warrants), and the Company will conduct business as Navios Maritime Holdings Inc.
Ms. Angeliki Frangou, Chairman and CEO of Navios said, "The successful consummation of this transaction marks the beginning of an exciting new stage in the development of Navios as a leading public dry bulk shipping company. We are excited about working with Navios's employees whom we believe will be instrumental in Navios's continued growth and further success as a public company. We are committed to working together with our business partners and customers to create value for our shareholders.
Ms. Frangou continued, "We wish to thank several stakeholders who have made this historic transaction possible. Foremost are the shareholders of the Company, who shared our vision of a platform for growth in the dry bulk sector. Also, we greatly appreciate the support we received from our strategic financial partner, HSH Nordbank AG, who understood the value of Navios and enabled us to consummate the acquisition. Finally, we thank our financial advisors, Sunrise Securities Corp., HSH Gudme Corporate Finance GmbH, and Investment and Finance Ltd., whose expert guidance greatly assisted us in structuring and successfully closing this transaction."
About Navios Maritime Holdings Inc.
Navios Maritime Holdings Inc. is one of the leading global brands in seaborne dry bulk shipping and is a trusted partner for industrial end users, shipowners, financial business partners, agents and brokers. As a public company, Navios is committed to providing best-in-class service to both customers and business partners. Navios maintains offices in South Norwalk, Connecticut; Piraeus, Greece, and Montevideo, Uruguay. Navios's stock is listed on the OTCBB where it trades under the symbols "NMHUF.OB," "NMHIF.OB," and "NMHWF.OB." Risks and uncertainties are described in reports filed by Navios Maritime Holdings Inc. with the United States Securities and Exchange Commission.
Safe Harbor
This press release may contain forward-looking statements within the meaning of the Private Securities Litigation Reform Act of 1995 about Navios Maritime Holdings Inc. (Navios). Forward-looking statements are statements that are not historical facts. Such forward-looking statements, based upon the current beliefs and expectations of Navios's management, are subject to risks and uncertainties, which could cause actual results to differ from the forward looking statements. The information set forth herein should be read in light of such risks. Navios does not assume any obligation to update the information contained in this press release.
Public & Investor Relations Contact: Navios Maritime Holdings Inc., Investor Relations, 212-279-8820, investors@navios.com
Source: Navios Maritime Holdings Inc. Press Release,Thursday August 25, 4:39 pm ET