Greek Shipping News Cuts
Week 40 - 2005

 

Record-Breaking Marine Money in Greece

.... where better to end an exciting week than Greece, the home of modern shipping?
Following this was a pertinent comparison of the differentiating characteristics between a U.K. tax lease, a KG, a KS and a lease arranged by First Ship Lease provided by Philip Clausius, which led FM to question that, if 2005 was the year of the IPO, might 2006 be the year of the lease?
A still full-house was then welcomed to a cocktail party graciously hosted by International Registries before delegates went on to enjoy their evening in Athens.
Source: Marine Money / Freshly Minted, 7 October 2005


Financial analysts under attack
Source: TOP STORY Fairplay daily email, 14:59 7 Oct


For those outside "The Big Boy's" funding will be difficult
---Greek banks may have to assume a bigger role in ship finance if the growth momentum of the Greek fleet is to continue. With operators of small and medium fleets finding it increasingly difficult to raise finance the Greek banks will have to step into the breach.
And what do bankers consider as a small to medium company? If what was said at the Athens Marine Money conference this week, an operator of 15 ships is considered, at best, as being medium size. Further, bankers seem convinced that 80% of medium size fleets operate ships of over 20 years.
Bankers think small companies are a big risk, "but we don't" said Stefanos Kardamakis, head of shipping at Greece's Egnatia Bank. Still, he said, a "shipping company needs expertise and a small company finds it hard to get the right people". He said consolidation was an answer, as banks are attracted to the big deal rather than a number of small deals.
Nicholas Vouyoukas, gm shipping, FBB-First Business Bank, whose shareholders comprise shipowners, said few banks will deal with small companies, but "we do". He said Greek shipping is still family run, though there is a move to a corporate style.
George Arcadis, director, Fortis Bank Greece, noted there are approx 750 shipowing companies in Greece, but only 10% are big and it is this 10% that is the target of all banks. However, he said "the backbone of Greek shipping is the smaller company, about 10 ships" and while most operate spot, "banks trust them and many banks like the way private ownerships work". "It is often easier to deal with a family than a corporation," he said.
Head of shipping, ABN AMRO Bank, Dimitris Anagnostopoulos, said there is no consolidation in Greece, quite "the opposite as owners are setting up new companies". Indeed, shipping is attracting investors away from other markets, like telecommunications. But, he warned, "financiers have to think about where and to whom money is lent".
Source: www.newsfront.gr, 7 October 2005 Vol. 6 / No. 37


Greek Shippers See More IPOs Despite Cool Market Interest
---ATHENS (Dow Jones)--More Greek-based shipping companies will seek financing from the capital markets despite recent cooler investor interest for new shipping offerings, owners of listed Greek shippers said Thursday.
"Greek ships account for 35% of the world shipping market while listed Greek-owned shipping companies only account for 3% of shipping in Greek hands," said Stamatis Molaris, chief executive, Quintana Maritime Limited (QMAR).
"Statistically, it's logical that we'll see more initial public offerings," he said at a shipping finance conference in Athens.
"Shipping is still a small sector, even in New York and London, so with Greek ships transporting 20% of the world's cargo, we'll see more Greek based-shipping companies going public," said Nikolas Tsakos, chief executive, Tsakos Energy Navigation Ltd (TNP).
However, they admitted that investors are no longer prepared to buy new ship offerings at a premium.
"In the early part of 2005, investors paid a premium to net asset value as shipping was hot, but more recent IPOs have faced more difficulties as investors are no longer prepared to pay this premium," said Christopher Georgakis, chief executive Excel Maritime Carriers Ltd (EXM).
Shares of Greek-based marine shipping company StealthGas Inc. (GASS) opened Thursday slightly above their IPO price of $14.50 a share, but retreated in later trade in the stock's first day of public trading.
Investors are increasingly concerned that recent high shipping rates have already peaked, and will decline, and that continued ship-building orders will lead to overcapacity in the industry.
"Pricing of future IPOs will be difficult," said John Sinders, Managing Director, Jefferies & Company Inc.
"It will be a risk for potential investors when the supply of ships outstrips demand," he added.
"Recent IPOs have educated the investor community about the dry cargo market, but in the future, companies seeking to make a public offering must present something new to differentiate themselves," said Excels' Georgakis.
-By Paul Tugwell; Dow Jones Newswires; +30 210 331 2881; paul.tugwell@dowjones.com
Source: 6 October 2005, Dow Jones International News


Greece bins lucrative US oil deal
Big contract
The problem of illegal diesel is a serious one and it is a major contributor to the cloud of pollution that frequently hangs over the Greek capital. Thousands of drivers are filling lorries, vans, buses and cars with diesel meant to power central heating systems because it is half the price of the legal version on sale at petrol stations. A survey last year by scientists at Athens Technical University showed that 60% of Athenian taxi drivers were using adulterated fuel which produces 20 times more sulphur than eco-friendly diesel.
The Americans sympathise with the Greek dilemma. But they are urging the government to reconsider. As one US official said: "It is a big contract and a lot of money to lose." And he made it clear that if the Greeks did not want to do business, there were several other suppliers around the Mediterranean who would be very happy to take the Americans' $200m.
Source: http://news.bbc.co.uk, By Malcolm Brabant, BBC News, Athens


Cheap, efficient way to clean up oil slicks in sea
---But state ignores lauded Greek innovation.
The CleanMag project involves the deployment of a magnetic porous material that absorbs oil; this material is less dense than water so it floats and spreads out over the slick in the form of granules, which immediately absorb the oil and are then drawn up from the surface by magnets.
Nikolaidis and his associates came up with the idea of a spongy, porous magnetic material which could absorb the oil and then be collected. It was not easy.
The team succeeded in creating such a material, which was patented in 1996 in Greece and in 1997 in the rest of the world. By that time, Nikolaidis was teaching at the Piraeus TEI.
Source: http://www.ekathimerini.com, 4 October 2005, By Yiannis Elafros


Greeks lead the way
Indeed, Greece crushed Germany in the final of Eurobasket 2005 in Belgrade a week ago, becoming the first nation since the former Soviet Union back in the 1960s to simultaneously hold the European crown in both football and basketball.
Source: www.lloydslist.com, Monday October 03 2005


More Difko tankers to Greek operator
Source: SSG Newsletter, Maritime News for Northern Europe 36/05


Petridis puts his faith in LPG carriers
---Six gas carriers under construction in Italy have been snapped up by new principals.
Italian investors have disposed of $120m-worth of LPG-carrier newbuildings in deals involving Magnus Carriers of Greece and Anglo-Australian investment fund Allocean.
Six ships being built in Italy have been sold by Monte Carlo-based MCCS.
The 4,000-cbm units were ordered in January at Cantieri Navale di Pesaro (CNP), which is partly owned by MCCS.
The first two have gone to Allocean, part of the Allco Finance Group, with delivery set for July and November 2006.
Magnus has taken the remaining quartet set for delivery between the first quarter of 2007 and mid-2008.
Magnus boss Gabriel Petridis confirms the purchase but does not give details as to what he paid for the ships - estimated to be around $20m each.
The deal is a private one, Petridis says, and independent of US-listed Aries Maritime in which he is the major shareholder. He adds that Aries's investment strategy only includes containership and products-tanker acquisitions.
Petridis says he went for the LPG deal because of the great opportunities the sector offers. The ships are semi-refrigerated and he adds there is a shortage of such tonnage, while the current age profile of the fleet is around 20 years.
That analysis is shared by MCCS director Lorenzo Subani, who says his company is making a profit on its speculative move on the back of the ageing fleet.
"We sold our six vessels very easily," he said. "Analysis of the worldwide LPG fleet of this size shows about 50% will be 20 years old in the next four years and so out of the market," he added.
Magnus first entered the LPG market in August 2004 with the purchase of the 7,500-cbm Optimus (ex-Busteria, built 1984). The diversification preceded Petridis's entry into the US stockmarket and reflects the company's activity in different sectors.
Magnus had exited the reefer sector a year earlier and begun building up its products-tanker and boxship fleet, which was later absorbed by Aries.
Allocean has also been diversifying its fleet this year. The company was born out of the purchase in December 2002 of UB Shipping, the former UK shipowning vehicle of Andreas Ugland & Sons of Norway
The ships acquired by Magnus do not have time charters attached. Their size, Petridis says, offers flexibility for use in both the chemical and liquefied-gas charter markets.
Magnus is currently listed as having a fleet of 15 ships.
All six vessels were designed by Italy's Giorgio La Valle, who is also behind a project for four 3,300-cbm LPG carriers in Turkey. Those ships have since been sold to Stargas of Italy.MCCS bought a 50% stake of CNP in March. The other 50% owner is Italy's Cecchini family.
Some brokers suggest that MCCS founder Antonio Careri has ordered two more LPG carriers at CNP for his own account.
Source: www.tradewinds.no, Yiota Gousas and Ian Lewis Athens and Genoa, published: 07 October 2005


Update 1: StealthGas Falls in First Day of Trading
---StealthGas Inc. stock retreated nearly 5 percent Thursday below its initial public offering price, in the Marine shipping company's first day of public trading.
Shares of StealthGas fell 70 cents, or 4.8 percent, to close at $13.80 on the Nasdaq Stock Market.
Its 8 million shares priced at $14.50 a share, at the lower end of the range of $14 to $16 set by underwriter Cantor Fitzgerald.
The Greece-based ocean shipper, which transports liquefied petroleum gas, was formed less than a year ago to capitalize on high shipping rates at the time.
Besides its limited operating history, there has been concern among investors this year that shipping rates have already peaked and will decline, and that continued ship-building orders will lead to overcapacity in the industry.
StealthGas, formed in December, reported net income of $4.05 million for the first six months of the year.
The company plans to using the proceeds from its IPO to help finance the purchase of more ships.
StealthGas intends to pay dividends to investors and said in its prospectus that from time to time the board may decided to pay dividends in an amount up to 50 percent of net quarterly income.
Source: http://www.forbes.com, Associated Press 10.06.2005, 04:48 PM


Quintana Maritime Enters into New $250 Million Revolving Credit Facility
Source: http://www.quintanamaritime.com


ABS: 12 th Straight Year of Fleet Growth
---ABS Classed Fleet Reaches New Record High of 120 Million Gross Tons Strong Offshore Contracting Boosts Orderbook
(Houston, TX ---) ABS has broken through the 120m gross ton mark to establish a new all time fleet record. The classification society has benefited from the current active newbuilding market and a steady inflow of existing vessels changing class. With more than 1,400 vessels of almost 25 m gt currently on order to ABS class, the fleet is expected to grow further in the short term.
The recent strong interest in new Mobile Offshore Drilling Units (MODUs), which include jack ups and semisubmersibles has also boosted the ABS orderbook. The society has maintained its dominant position as the leading provider of classification services to the offshore sector with 50 MODUs (43 jackups and 7 semisubmersibles) currently on order to ABS class at yards in Singapore, China and the US with several more contracts pending.
ABS had passed its historic fleet record, originally set in 1981, during 2004. Since that time the ABS-classed fleet has established new highs every month until reaching the 120m gt mark in late September.
Some of that technology has been directed towards the ships themselves, addressing the very sophisticated analysis required for the new generation of very large LNG carriers and the mega containerships that are being ordered. Other efforts have focused on IT developments that have significantly altered, and improved the manner in which ABS provides survey and engineering review services.
The ABS SafeShip Survey module is now in use by ABS surveyors around the world. It has taken them into a largely paperless environment. Posting survey results and printing and issuing any one of almost 500 applicable class and statutory certificates can now be completed before the surveyor leaves the vessel.
Founded in 1862, ABS is a leading international classification society devoted to promoting the security of life, property and the marine environment through the development and verification of standards for the design, construction and operational maintenance of marine-related facilities.
For more information, contact: Stewart Wade, Vice President Marketing & Communications, ABS, 1-281-877-5850 or swade@eagle.org
Source: October 3, 2005, press release, www.eagle.com