Greek Shipping News Cuts
Week 39 - 2005

 

Shipping needs state action

---Shipowners say government has done nothing to induce them to register under the Greek flag
The first cracks in relations between the government and shipowners became apparent yesterday in a joint statement by the Union of Greek Shipowners (UGS) and the Greek Shipping Cooperation Committee, the organization of London-based Greek shipowners.
The statement, quite sharp in many places, emphasizes the following:
(The government has, in recent months, stopped publishing monthly figures on new register entries and withdrawals.)
The shipowners criticize Merchant Marine Minister Manolis Kefaloyiannis, of whom, in any case, they do not hold a very high opinion.
Source: Dimitris Kapranos, http://www.ekathimerini.com, 27 Sep. 2005


"Sea" Dispute in Parliament
Accusations For Favouring Businessmen
The dispute started when Mr Kefalogiannis replied to the insinuations of PASOK MPs for favouring specific businessmen, saying "the monopolising games are systems of the PASOK regime," and spoke of "underground routes" of former PASOK members, the political leadership and coastal ship owners on the entrance of companies in the Stock Exchange.
Moreover the Minister reported a relationship between ship owner Gerasimos Agoudimos with PASOK "he did not accompany me to Tinos, as he did with Andreas Papandreou and Dimitra Liani, and did not name "Dimitroula" after my wife," he said, while he spoke of "set up articles" in newspaper Ta Nea initiated by Christos Protopapas causing the rage of the Opposition MPs.
PASOK Parliamentary spokesperson Giannis Diamantidis spoke of a "delirium," and concluded "he is a slanderer, an insulter of our party. He cannot accuse a great party like PASOK of such nonsense." On his part, Apostolos Kaklamanis claimed, "the generalisation of accusations against a party is a fascist practice," while Mr Pipergias noted "you sank before sailing, in the middle of the port."
"I accept your insults, but insulting me just reveals your identity," replied Mr Kefalogiannis.
Source: http://news.ert.gr/en, By Vagelis Theodorou, 28 Sep 2005 00:11:00


Criminalisation affects safety
---JOHN M Lyras, chairman of the London P&I Club, has warned that there is a danger that recent moves - particularly within Europe - to criminalise those seafarers whose errors lead to accidents, could have an adverse, rather than a positive, effect on safety in shipping.
In the club's latest newsletter, Mr Lyras says, "The increasing trend towards criminalisation of those souls at sea, and indeed ashore, whose errors have led to accidents, is a disturbing aspect of European government activity which has very serious implications for the shipping industry. Despite some initial signs of recognition in the European parliament of the negative effect of criminalisation of those who are guilty of the sorts of errors that even the best of us are susceptible to, legislation has been issued from Brussels which will have such an effect.
"The European Commission, in endeavouring to justify its actions, points out that only the 'seriously negligent' will be prosecuted. But I am afraid that those of us involved in shipping and P&I frequently see instances where the interpretation of that sort of term is stretched to encompass cases where the consequences of the negligence are 'serious', but where criminal culpability is non-existent. This development will actually undermine safety, rather than enhance it, by discouraging responsible and valuable personnel from pursuing a maritime career.
"The threat to the safe manning and management of ships, along with its potential consequences in respect of P&I claims, is something which should not only be of great concern to us within the industries involved, but should also be so for the public at large."
www.lsso.com
Source: Maritime Advocate Online, Issue 224, September 27th, 2005


Images of the Maritime Industry not simply about ships
Slater explained that images can only be formed from knowledge and information. Collecting and distributing accurate information about the function and operations of the maritime industry will help to create new images and a better decision-making environment.
The Maritime Industry Foundation has been formed to do just this and will create a knowledge centre which will be accessible to the politicians, media, other opinion formers and the public at large. The knowledge centre will be a formal and informal educational tool which will within a few years be communicating with millions of curious minds who will form their own image of the maritime industry.
INTERTANKO has been instrumental in establishing the Foundation, which has been endorsed by the Round Table of international shipping associations (BIMCO, ICS, INTERCARGO and INTERTANKO) in consultation with the IMO. The Foundation has been established as an industry/university partnership supported by both public and private funds. It is an independent, non-commercial, not-for-profit U.K.-registered charity.
Slater concluded his presentation saying that the maritime industry will continue to be the most vital industry in the continued development of the human civilisation. Harnessing the information base of the maritime industry and providing the tools for its communication will create an environment in which many new images will emerge.
Source: From INTERTANKO 27 September 2005


No liability for Festival owner
---GEORGE Poulides, owner and chairman of failed pan-European cruise company Festival, has been exonerated from the charge of 'personal bankruptcy' by a court in Genoa, Italy. Judge Renato Delucchi rejected an attempt by 300 creditors to require Poulides' personal possessions to be sold to pay Festival's debts. The ruling states: "Poulides was supported by a team of experienced managers [and] did not personally take wrong and illegal decisions that led to the company's downfall. The owner had therefore no direct liability in what happened to Festival and had never merged, into a sole asset, his belongings with those of the cruise line he had founded. Such circumstances suggest that Poulides was not an entrepreneur, in the way the law defines such a figure, although he was the owner and chairman." Festival was declared bankrupt in July 2004 with debts of euro300M ($360M). About 2,300 jobs were lost.
Source: Lloyd's Register - Fairplay web links, 27 Sep 2005


Greek Lawyers move down the road to Piraeus Arbitration
---Greece's Society of Maritime Lawyers has set up a nine-member maritime arbitration board, including five supreme court judges, as a founding step towards creating a centre of arbitration in Piraeus. A university professor, an admiral and a public servant are also on the board.
The board comes from efforts launched in 2003 after years of criticism from opponents, many of them lawyers, who contend it is impossible to compete with London and New York. However, the management at the Marine ministry, including minister Manolis Kefaloyiannis and secretary general John Tzoannos, and the Hellenic Chamber of Shipping and the Union of Greek Shipowners, support the arbitration board which will further strengthen Piraeus as a maritime centre.
Veteran Piraeus lawyer Paul Avrameas, one of the drivers behind the move, says the association is open to include professionals from the maritime sector within Greece and internationally. An office to hear cases is being prepared, though Avrameas says it will take time for issues such as setting up rulings of precedent, but standards such as confidentiality of information are given from the outset.
Those pushing the board believe Piraeus has the necessary concentration of legal and maritime expertise, including the expertise provided by the many foreign service companies established there. Avrameas says many shipping disputes now go to arbitration, but "this process in London is very time consuming, expensive and there are delays in issuing decisions".
"We now need the owners to trust the system and use Greek arbitration. The important thing was to write a body of rules of maritime arbitration and this has been done. There is no reason for Greek owners to avoid the Greek legal system," contends Avrameas.
Source: www.newsfront.gr, 29 Sep 2005


International ship brokerage firms land on domestic shores
Four international ship broking firms have already forged joint ventures with Indian broking companies. The latest to join the joint venture (JV) bandwagon is the French broking company Barry Rogliano Salles which has teamed up with the Mumbai-based Sippy family to form Swaraaj Shipping, and Logistics Private. The JV will develop dry cargo ship broking activities in Mumbai.
Theodoros Ntalakos of the Greek project broking firm Intermodel Shipbrokers said, the company was planning to appoint a representative in India in the initial phase and would later explore the idea of forming a joint venture.
Almost all international broking firms were opting this route, he said. According to shipping industry analysts, crude oil imports would continue to grow at an exponential rate, while the country readies to position itself as the leading iron ore exporter.
Debasish Pattnaik, a broker with Braemar Seacope India said that the country was witnessing a boom in trade of iron ore, coal and crude oil. Moreover, the country is decentralising its ship chartering activities gradually, which would give broking firms more edge.
Earlier, London-based Braemar Seascope had joined hands with Delhi-based Westward Shipping for broking activities including wet cargo, dry cargo and purchase or sale of ships.
In the drive to venture jointly into the ship broking business, a new firm - CTI Shipbrokers (India) Pvt Ltd evolved out of a partnership between Capital Shipbrokers Ltd London, Island Shipbrokers Pte Ltd Singapore and Mumbai-based Tradex Chartering and Trading Pvt Ltd.
CTI mainly focuses on sourcing oil tankers for Indian charterers to bring vital crude oil and petroleum products into India and to procure cargos from international market for Indian shipowners.
According to Kishore Sippy, the managing director of Swaaraj Shipping and Logistics, the international majors want to penetrate the Indian market as most of the action is seen on the coal and iron ore front.
Source: http://www.business-standard.com, PR Sanjai / Mumbai September 30, 2005


A Ship-Shape IPO
---StealthGas offers nothing new, no vaunted "paradigm shift" claimed by so many tech companies that flamed out in the 1990s boom and nothing others with buckets of money can't do.
Still, the shipping company offers a lot to investors: the prospect of increased profit and quarterly dividends. But keep in mind that the company operates in a highly regulated industry subject to manic price swings, so the planned IPO is far from a slam-dunk.
StealthGas transports liquefied petroleum gas products such as butane, propane as well as petrochemical gases and ammonia. The products are liquefied and shipped at cold temperatures--some as low as minus 104 degrees Celsius--to reduce volume. Liquefied petroleum gases are a byproduct of crude oil refining and natural gas production and are primarily used as fuel, residential heating, cooking and feedstock for the production of petrochemicals.
The company's fleet consisted of four LPG carriers on Dec. 31, 2004; five ships on March 31, and nine ships on June 30. The company plans to acquire nine additional LPG carriers for $109.9 million, using money raised in the IPO plus additional borrowings.
The industry is small. Worldwide, the company says there are about 934 LPG carriers, and the largest competing fleet has 47 ships and larger rivals have 20 to 25 vessels. StealthGas will be competitive with 18 ships.
However, the international LPG carrier market is cyclical, and profit tracks the rise and fall of charter rates. In the last 12 months, charter rates for LPG carriers have reached record highs, but future rates depend on strong worldwide demand for LPG products. A slump in the plastics and chemical industries would cut demand for LPG carriers, eroding the company's earnings. The IPO is also a bet on the continued growth of the economies China, India and Southeast Asia--and all the risks that come with those regions.
The LPG carrier market is generally stronger in fall and winter as producers increase production of propane and butane for winter heating. Mild winters or unusually bad weather delaying shipments could cut into the company's earnings.
The industry is subject to strict environmental regulation, and it's governed by the International Maritime Organization, an agency of the United Nations, as well as federal, state and local law in the United States. Changes in the law could force StealthGas to spend millions to comply with new regulations.
As a new company, it's not surprising that StealthGas has a narrow customer base. For the six months ended June 30, about 80% of the company's revenue was derived from three companies. The acquisition of additional ships will allow the company to add new customers.
Current customers include national and independent energy and chemical companies, including Dow Chemical (nyse: DOW - news - people ), Statoil (nyse: STO - news - people ), Finaval and Petredec.
StealthGas was incorporated in 2004. Its limited operating history poses the biggest risk to investors simply because it has no track record. Current financial statements reflect recent acquisitions and may not be indicative of future performance.
StealthGas has been profitable in its short history. For the six months ended June 30, the company reported net income of $4.1 million on revenue of $9.6 million.
This is a capital-intensive business. The company must compete on price, location, size, age and condition of its ships. Competitors with deeper pockets could offer shippers larger fleets assembled through consolidation or acquisition and undercut StealthGas on shipping rates.
StealthGas of Athens, Greece, plans to offer 7.7 million shares at $14 to $16 each through underwriters led by Cantor Fitzgerald. The proposed Nasdaq symbol is GASS. The IPO is expected to be priced the week of Oct. 3.
StealthGas expects to raise nearly $107 million in the deal, assuming the shares are priced at the midpoint. The company plans to use net proceeds raised in the IPO to acquire additional ships and for working capital.
StealthGas plans to pay quarterly dividends in January, April, July and October. While there's no guarantee, the company now plans to pay a dividend of $0.1875 per share in January 2006.
The energy sector has produced a string of strong IPOs in the current market.
Bill Barrett (nyse: BBG - news - people ), an independent oil and natural gas company focused on exploration and development in the Rocky Mountain region, priced its deal at $25 per share via Goldman Sachs Group (nyse: GS - news - people ). The IPO opened at $27.50, hit $38.29 and recently changed hands at $37.88.
Other strong deals in the energy sector include TODCO (nyse: THE - news - people ), Hornbeck Offshore Services (nyse: HOS - news - people ), Jed Oil (amex: JDO - news - people ) and Atlas America (nasdaq: ATLS news - people ).
Houston-based TODCO, a provider of contract oil and gas drilling services, went public at $12 per share in a deal led by Morgan Stanley (nyse: MWD - news - people ). The stock opened at $13.55, hit $39.78 and recently traded at $39.56, a new high.
Covington, La.-based Hornbeck, a provider of marine transportation and oil field services, went public at $13 per share via Goldman Sachs. The stock hit $36.90 and recently traded at $34.10.
Atlas America, based in Moon Township, Pa., is active in the development, production and transportation of natural gas and oil in the Appalachian Basin. It went public at $15.50 per share via Friedman Billings Ramsey. The deal opened flat, but later hit $52.72 and recently fetched $49.51, a new high.
Calgary, Alberta-based Jed Oil, an oil and natural gas company active in Western Canada, priced its IPO at $5.50 per share via Gilford Securities. The stock opened at $10, hit $33.10 and recently changed hands at $25.58.
StealthGas is a new company with a limited operating history, making it difficult to gauge its long-term prospects. But the energy sector has produced a string of winners, and the company's planned expansion with money raised in the IPO makes it a good bet.
But be cautious. Unlike many other shipping companies that carry dry bulk, crude oil and refined products, StealthGas derives nearly all its revenue from a single source--the transport of liquefied petroleum gas. The lack of diversification is a major risk, even for an energy-related company.
Your ship won't come in with this IPO, but StealthGas is likely to perform like a ship laden with LPG: slow, steady and profitable--at least in the near term.
Source: Scott Reeves, 09.30.05, 6:00 AM ET


Excel Maritime Poised for Stability and Growth
---NEW YORK, NY -- (Market Wire - Sep 29, 2005) -- As of September 15, 2005, Excel Maritime trades on the Big Board under the same symbol it traded on the AMEX, (NYSE: EXM). "The move to NYSE is an important landmark in the company's history," says CEO, Christopher Georgakis. "NYSE is the dominant U.S. market of choice for companies from all over the world. We are confident that joining our peer group of leading global shipping companies on the Big Board will enhance our company's positioning, visibility and recognition within the investment community. NYSE's global platform is also expected to enhance the liquidity and quality of trading of our shares with tangible benefits for our shareholders."
First Pure Dry Bulk Company to List in the U.S.
Excel Maritime is the first pure dry bulk company to have listed on a U.S. Exchange and its common stock has traded on the American Stock Exchange since April 1998. Since that time, the company has delivered six consecutive years of profitability.
EXM is the owner and operator of dry bulk carriers and a provider of worldwide seaborne transportation services for dry bulk cargoes. The company's vessels carry major bulk commodities, such as coal, iron ore and grain, as well as minor bulk commodities such as fertilizers, bauxite, alumina and cement.
A new management team, CEO -- Christopher Georgakis -- and CFO -- Lefteris Papatrifon, were appointed in November 2004. Since then, taking advantage of the favourable environment in global shipping, the company embarked on a strategy of fleet expansion and renewal, through timely acquisitions of second hand vessels and the disposal of older units.
In November 2004, Excel Maritime had a fleet of five vessels with an average age of 25 years and a total deadweight tonnage (dwt) of 358,000. Within a period of three quarters the company sold three older vessels and acquired 16 new ones, increasing the total number of the fleet to 18 vessels (one Capesize, ten Panamax and seven Handymax vessels) with a total dwt capacity of 1.1 million.
It also reduced the average age of its fleet to 13.2 years, well below the industry average of 16 years. This transformation of the company was made possible through two secondary offerings in December 2004 and March 2005 which grossed about $179 million.
Delivering on Promises
"We are a completely different company today compared to last year," explains Georgakis. "In terms of fleet composition, organizational structure and corporate governance. We set out with five major goals and we have made significant and tangible progress on all of them. Our goals have been to expand the fleet and bring its age below industry average, to deploy the majority of our new acquisitions in the period market, to generate EBITDA from fixed charters, for each vessel, equivalent to 30% of the acquisition value, to maintain a low net debt to total capitalization ratio and to improve the trading liquidity of our stock."
Operational Strategy Focusing on Cost Containment
Excel Maritime is the first listed dry-bulk company to have fully integrated in-house technical management. As of March 2005, the technical and commercial management of the fleet is conducted by Maryville Maritime Inc., a wholly owned subsidiary, which also provides management services to third parties.
"This structure enables us to increase operational efficiency and control and reduce costs," explains CFO, Lefteris Papatrifon. Together with a proactive preventative maintenance program, both ashore and at sea, and by employing professional well-trained masters, officers and crews, Excel has been able to minimize off-hire periods, effectively manage insurance costs and control overall operating expenses. Maryville Maritime carries the distinction of being the first Greek ship management company to have been awarded simultaneous ISM and ISO Safety and Quality Systems Certification in February 1996.Today the company is ISO 9001:2000 and 14001:1996 certified by Bureau Veritas.
Balanced Fleet Deployment Strategy
In terms of fleet deployment strategy for the new purchases, the company seeks to employ these vessels in the medium and long-term time charter market, while the initial fleet is deployed in the spot market.
Christopher Georgakis comments: "We believe that this strategy enables us to take full advantage of market opportunities as they arise, while at the same time we enjoy cash flow stability and greater visibility of earnings."
As of September 22nd, 2005, half of the fleet is under time charters with duration between 12 and 26 months, while the other half trades in the spot market. In the first half of 2005, Excel achieved an average TCE rate (time charter equivalent rate) for vessels under charter of $22,571 per day, while for vessels in the spot market $23,562 per day. The blended average daily TCE for the fleet was $23,125 per vessel.
Looking at the second half of 2005, 50% of the total fleet days are currently fixed under charters with the remaining 50% available for spot charters. For 2006, the mix between charter and spot fleet days stands currently at 28% and 72%. "In principal we are period minded, however, our present mix of period and spot charters enables us to take better advantage of prevailing market conditions," comments Christopher Georgakis.
Corporate Governance
"We are committed to maintaining the highest standards of corporate governance," assures Lefteris Papatrifon, the company's CFO. "In this context, we have implemented significant initiatives, such as the formation of a majority independent Board of Directors and the establishment of an Internal Audit Department."
First Half 2005 Financial Results
Revenues for the first half of '05 were $49.2 million, up 86% from $26.5 million from the first half of '04. EBITDA was $36.4 million, double the $18.2 million of the first half 2004. Net Income for the first half of '05 was 23.4 million, up 36% from the $17.2 million of the first half of '04. Earnings per share were $1.36 down 9% from $1.49 from the first half of '04. These earnings per share included the effect of a non-cash charge reflecting the management agreement termination expense with the company's previous technical manager, Excel Management Ltd. Excluding the management termination expense, EPS for the first half of '05 would have been $1.66 per share or 11% up from the first half of '04.
On the balance sheet, cash as of June 2005, was $59.3 million, fixed assets were $456.7 million, long-term debt was $269.2 million -- including the current portion of $45.3 million, stockholders equity was 245.4 million, and net debt to total capitalization was 41 %.
There are 19,631,000 shares outstanding and the market capitalization is about $308 million. Daily volume is about 250,000 shares.
For more info visit: http://www.excelmaritime.com
Source: Distribution Source : Market Wire, Date : Thursday, September 29, 2005


Cove Apparel, Inc. Announces Business Combination With Euroseas Ltd
---SAN CLEMENTE, CA -- (MARKET WIRE) -- 09/29/2005 -- Cove Apparel, Inc. (OTC BB: CVAP) announced today that on August 25, 2005 it signed an Agreement and Plan of Merger (the "Merger Agreement") with Euroseas Acquisition Company Inc., a Delaware corporation and wholly owned subsidiary of Euroseas Ltd., a Marshall Islands corporation. In connection with the merger, Euroseas also completed a $21 million private placement to expand its fleet by acquiring additional vessels. The Merger Agreement provides for the merger of Cove into the Euroseas subsidiary, with Cove shareholders receiving 0.102969 shares of Euroseas common stock for each share of Cove common stock owned.
Details on the parties and merger follow.
Euroseas Ltd. Euroseas Ltd. was formed on May 5, 2005, under the laws of the Republic of the Marshall Islands to consolidate the ship owning interests of the Pittas family of Athens. Euroseas Ltd., through its wholly owned subsidiaries, owns and operates seven drybulk vessels, including four Handysize bulk carriers, two Handysize containerships, and one Panamax drybulk carrier. Euroseas operations have been profitable, with 2004 Revenues of $45.7 million, Operating Income of $31.1 million, and EBITDA of $34.6 million. Euroseas will continue to operate in the drybulk and container shipping markets, with operations managed by Eurobulk Ltd., an affiliated ship management company. Eurobulk will be responsible for the day-to-day commercial and technical management and operations of the vessels. Eurobulk Ltd. is an ISO 9002:2000 certified ship management company and represents four generations of ship management tradition and expertise in the Pittas family dating back to the late 19th century.
Euroseas' five drybulk carrier vessels have total cargo capacity of 190,904 deadweight tons (dwt) and its containerships have cargo capacity of 2,538 twenty-foot equivalent units (teu). Euroseas employs its vessels in the time charter market and through pool arrangements for greater visibility and earnings predictability. Presently, six of its vessels are employed under time charters, and one vessel is employed in the Baumarine pool that is managed by Klaveness, a major global charterer in the dry bulk area. Euroseas currently has about 80% of its 2005 operating days fixed on time charters, and about 45% of its 2006 operating days are already fixed on time charters and pool employment as well.
The Drybulk & Containership Industries. Drybulk carriers are employed for seaborne transportation of key commodities and raw materials such as iron and steel, grain, fertilizers, minerals, forest/agricultural products, ores, bauxite, alumina, cement and finished goods transported in bulk. Containerships provide transportation services for the containerized trade of, primarily, finished goods, but also, an increasing number of other cargoes. Containerized trade has been one of the fastest growing sectors of seaborne trade. In recent years, the demand for raw materials by developing countries (China, Southeast Asia and India) has led to strong growth in the drybulk shipping market and capacity constraints have generated increased vessel chartering rates. Demand for iron ore (steel production) and Coal (heating and power generation) have been growing rapidly as China, Asia and India build infrastructure and meet the demands of their newly industrialized base and population. Additionally, the outsourcing of manufacturing in the Far East, and especially China, for technology and consumer products has driven significant growth in the container shipping area as finished goods are moved back to OEMs and consumers.
Management. Euroseas is managed by Aristides J. Pittas, its Chairman and CEO. Mr. Pittas has 20 years of experience in senior roles within the shipping industry and was formerly Managing Director and Chairman of Eurobulk, and will remain as its Chairman. Anastasios (Tasos) Aslidis, Ph D, will become Chief Financial Officer of Euroseas, and has over 17 years of experience in the shipping industry and was most recently a partner with Marsoft, an international consulting firm focusing on investment and risk management in the maritime industry. Management of Eurobulk will consist of seasoned persons that have over 100 years combined experience in the shipping business and vessel management. Euroseas will also have a Board of Directors which will be comprised of individuals with senior experience in shipping and related business areas.
Euroseas Dividend Policy. Euroseas plans to distribute, on a quarterly basis, substantially all available cash flow generated by operations less expenses, debt service, reserves for drydocking expenses, special surveys, and after establishing necessary working capital reserves. Necessary working capital reserves will be determined by the business needs, terms of existing credit facilities, growth strategies, and other cash needs as determined by the Board of Directors, or required by prevailing law.
For further information: COVE APPAREL, INC., Mr. Leib Orlanski, Esq., Kirpatrick & Lockhart, (310) 552 5044
SOURCE: Cove Apparel
Source: http://www.marketwire.com,


Norton Rose advises HSH on $520m loan
The financing was provided on be half of Delawar e- based acquisition vehicle International Shipping Enterprises (ISE), which is owned by Greek shipping magnate Angeliki Frangos.
Navios Maritime Holdings is itself a provider of bulk shipping services and owner of a substantial fleet of dry goods tankers.
Under the terms of the financing deal, HSH Nordbank provided loan facilities of up to $520m for the takeover which have been backed by an international security offering.
Dunnett told Legal Week: "It was done in an innovative way in that you had shipping-related activities that you do not see in a normal deal, such as a security cover relating to ships and freight derivatives trading." US firm Mintz Leven Cohn Ferris Glovsky & Pompeo was instructed by ISE, while Vgenopoulos & Partners advised HSH Nordbank on Greek law.
Navios was advised by US firm Anderson Kill & Olick.
Source: Legal Week Reports, http://www.legalweek.com, 29/09/2005


Fortis Appoints Harris Antoniou the New Head of the Global Shipping Group
PIRAEUS, GREECE -- (Market Wire - Sep 26, 2005) -- (OTC: FORSY) Mr. Harris Antoniou has been appointed Head of Global Shipping Group, based in Rotterdam, as from September 1st 2005
Mr. Harris Antoniou succeeds Mr. Jaap Kalverkamp, who has been appointed Head of Merchant Banking Asia, as the new Head of the Global Shipping Group, effective September 1st, 2005. He reports to Mr. Frans van Lanschot, Head of Specialized Finance, in Rotterdam.
Harris Antoniou has been manager of Fortis Bank's representative office in Greece since 1999. Most recently he has overseen the office's upgrade to a branch of the Merchant Bank following the Executive Committee's decision last June. Antoniou joined the shipping finance group of Mees & Hope in Rotterdam (now part of Fortis) more than twelve years ago after a short spell with ABN-AMRO Global Clients in Amsterdam. Working out of Rotterdam and London he focused mainly on shipping and project financing. In London he was responsible for the bank's combined Energy and Shipping Groups' exposure in the offshore oil services sector with a global responsibility, and initiated co-operation with supranational development institutions such as EBRD and IFC. He is a graduate of Piraeus University and holder of an MBA from Erasmus University in the Netherlands and has recently completed the General Management Program of Harvard Business School.
Fortis
Fortis is an international financial services provider active in the fields of banking and insurance. The company offers its private, business and institutional customers a comprehensive package of products and services through its own distribution channels, in cooperation with intermediaries and through other distribution partners. Its multi-channel distribution strategy gives Fortis the flexibility to meet its customers' needs for optimum availability and user-friendliness.
Fortis occupies a leading position in all market segments in the Benelux countries. It offers internationally operating companies throughout Europe an integrated network and provides wealthy individuals and businesspeople with advanced services based on a unique set of competences. Fortis's expertise in niche markets such as shipping, commodity, export and project finance and fund administration has made the company a regional or world leader in these areas. Fortis also successfully combines its banking and insurance expertise in growth markets in Europe and Asia and leads the markets in Spain and Portugal.
Boasting a market capitalisation of EUR 31.4 billion (31/07/2005) and total assets of EUR 718 billion, Fortis ranks among the twenty largest financial institutions in Europe. Its sound solvency position, broad risk spread and ambitious, professional workforce of 51,000 enable Fortis to combine global strength with local flexibility to provide optimum support to its customers.
Fortis is listed on the exchanges of Amsterdam, Brussels and Luxembourg and has a sponsored ADR programme in the United States. www.merchantbanking.fortis.com
Contact: Dimitris P. Christacopoulos, Global Shipping Group, Fortis Bank (Nederland) N.V., Akti Miaouli 21, 18535 Piraeus, Greece, T: + 302 10 422 1663, F: + 302 10 422 1646,
Source: Distribution Source : Market Wire, Date : Monday, September 26, 2005


Greece-Russia ministerial meeting ends with cooperation protocol
--- The 5th mixed Greek-Russian ministerial meeting ended in Moscow on Wednesday evening with the signature of a cooperation protocol by Greek Deputy Foreign Minister Evripidis Stylianidis and Russian Agriculture Minister Aleksey Gordeyev.
Stylianidis stressed that the protocol laid the foundations for future cooperation between Greece and Russia and to a great extent implemented a Joint Action Plan agreed by Greek Prime Minister Costas Karamanlis and Russian President Vladimir Putin during their meeting in Moscow last December.
The ministerial meeting began in Moscow on Wednesday alongside a Greek-Russian business forum taking place the same day, attended by the largest Greek business delegation ever to venture outside Greece.
In a statement to the ANA, Gordeyev stressed the "great warmth" during Wednesday's meeting and said this was a guarantee for the "further successful development of our relations".
Stylianidis said the two sides had agreed to set up working groups to look into bilateral trade arrangements and to convene joint committees to discuss issues concerning agriculture, transport and tourism.
In the energy sector, the two sides achieved a positive outcome concerning plans for the Burgas-Alexandroupolis oil pipeline and also set in motion cooperation in the natgas and electricity sectors.
During the meeting, the Russians promised to move faster for the ratification of an agreement for avoiding double taxation, which will in turn allow implementation of a bilateral maritime agreement that has been stalled since 2001. The Greek side, in turn, committed itself to participation with a Greek pavilion in 10 trade exhibitions taking place in Russia next year.
Arrangements were also made for a meeting between the Greek delegation and Moscow Mayor Yury Luzhkov on Thursday to discuss cooperation in construction projects.
On the sidelines of the ministerial, an agreement was also signed by the Union of Greek Industries (SEB) and the Russian Business and Industry Association, which will create a Business Council to act as a bridge between the Greek and Russian business communities and give a new boost to their relations.
Also participating in the ministerial meeting, which was chaired by Stylianidis and Gordeyev, were Deputy Finance Minister Christos Folias and Agricultural Minister Evangelos Basiakos, who stressed in a statement that Greece "looked to the large Russian market" for high-quality Greek agricultural products like olive oil, wine, honey and others, as well as processed and packaged Greek agricultural products with higher added value that were competitive worldwide.
Source: http://www.ana.gr, 1 Oct 2005