Greek Shipping News Cuts
Week 42 - 2005
---Just how determined Greece is to ensure the country's views are known at all stages as the European Union develops a common shipping policy was underlined October 17 when eight ministries were represented at the initial meeting of Greece's co-ordination committee.
Chaired by Marine ministry secretary general John Tzoannos, the meeting at the Marine ministry was attended by officials from the ministries of Foreign Affairs; Aegean and Island Policy; Transportation and Communications; Development; Agriculture Development and Foods; Environment, Town Planning and Public Works; Tourism and Mercantile Marine.
Greece, which backs European Commission plans to establish a common policy for the industry through the so-called 'Green Book', has been pushed to the forefront by shipping's international leaders, many of them calling on the country to take the lead in shipping matters.
Early March, EC president, Jose Manuel Barroso and Fisheries and Maritime Affairs Commissioner, Joe Borg, announced the long-awaited consultation process to harmonise economic, commercial, technical and environmental parameters under a broad European maritime policy. Borg, who leads Commissioners who have anything to do with the maritime industry, says the main goal of the EU's maritime policy is to "help maintain and build upon an already thriving maritime economy" and to "realise the full potential of Europe's sea-based activities in a sustainable way". Borg recognises the vital importance of maritime activities for Europe's economy and has declared the European fleet is the backbone of Europe's international trade.
The challenge, says Borg, is to reconcile potentially competing uses of the sea. He insists a complete picture "must be painted" on the basis of all economic, social and environmental interests, but the approach taken should create certainty for economic operators while at the same time maintaining sustainability. The study is expected to be concluded within the first half of 2006.
Tzoannos has already met with John Richardson, head of the working team on consultation paper. During a visit to Greece last month Richardson discussed with Tzoannos and other Greek officials the EU's presence at Imo; moves to improve shipping at the EU level; ways of attracting young people into the industry; and the handling of the illegal immigration problem.
Greece's maritime interests within the EC are in the hands of Environment commissioner, Stavros Dimas, and Marine minister, Manolis Kefaloyiannis, has met several times with Dimas to discuss Greece's position.
Kefaloyiannis has often spoken of Greece's determination to put forward its position, emphasising that the welfare of shipping must be protected and an integrated approach be taken as the EU policy develops. "Greece's goal is to upgrade the quality of shipping," says Kefaloyiannis.
Source: www.newsfront.gr, 21 October 2005 Vol. 6 / No. 39
IACS and Greeks go head-to-head on rules
---BLOODLETTING appeared to be avoided on Thursday during eight hours of talks in Piraeus as Greek shipowners and more than a dozen representatives of classification societies aired their differences on proposed common structural rules for tankers and bulkers.
Despite a sometimes fiery build-up to the two-day meeting, which is scheduled to continue today [FRIDAY] with an equally long session held in the suites of the Union of Greek Shipowners (UGS), sources in the meeting room described the discussions as taking place "in a positive spirit".
"They are improving a lot of their requirements", claimed a member of the Greek delegation shortly after the meting broke up. "Everyone is listening to each other and some misunderstandings on both sides are being cleared up."
There were "grounds" for coming to an understanding, thought the source, although some observers feel it is unlikely that any firm bargains are likely to be clinched at the meeting, before class representatives go on to similar meetings in the Far East and digest the results of talks at the highest level.
A class society source close to the talks confirmed the picture of a "constructive and friendly" meeting with owners yesterday, but added it "remains to be seen" whether the pow-wow can end in "perfect agreement".
He agreed, however, that the events in Piraeus could go a long way to determining final specifics of the common rules. The discussions were predominantly dealing with "technical details".
Source: www.lloydslist, Breaking News, By Nigel Lowry- Thursday October 20 2005
Coastal shipping in need of a boost
The same sources also noted that the ministry should immediately make efforts to harmonize the national institutional framework with EU regulations so as to allow free competition and create investment opportunities in coastal shipping in order to bring in the much-needed new vessels.
Source: http://www.ekathimerini.com, NIKOS BARDOUNIAS, 19 Oct 2005
PM confers with ministers
---Prime minister Costas Karamanlis held separate meetings Monday morning with foreign minister Petros Molyviatis and merchant marine minister Manolis Kefaloyannis.
After his meeting with the premier, Molyviatis told waiting reporters that he had briefed Karamanlis on all foreign policy issues, adding that it had been a usual meeting in the context of his regular contacts with the prime minister.
Kefaloyannis told reporters after his meeting with the prime minister that he had briefed him on matters falling under his ministry's competency, including the recent unanimous adoption by parliament of a new law on recreational scuba diving, which lifted existing restrictions.
In past years, recreational diving was strictly restricted in Greece in order to deter antiquities smugglers, with diving only permitted in specific, closely-watched locations.
The new law further contains provisions to boost Greek cruise shipping and a six-year chartering of ships to serve routes to the country's remote islands.
Kefaloyannis also said a bill would be tabled soon providing for the upgrade of the Merchant Marine Schools to university-level institutions, as well as one for enactment of the 3 billion euros Protocol signed between Greece and the European Investment Bank (EIB), adding that the first project to be funded under the Protocol would be announced on October 21.
The minister was referring to a protocol agreement with the EIB he signed in July for financing a project to upgrade the country's major ports, the overall cost of which has been estimated at 6.0 billion euros, with the loan agreement with the EIB covering half the outlay at favourable terms.
The 25-year loan has a grant period of seven years, a low interest rate and does not need the guarantee of the Greek state. EIB's money will cover a wide gamut of projects. The money from the loan will be used exclusively to fund investment programmes included in a National Port Policy, drafted by ministry for the period 2005-2015.
The national programme was based on individual programmes submitted by the country's 12 major ports. The ministry also plans to hold a tender to find a consultant for the project.
Source: http://www.ana.gr, 22 Oct 2005
Greek CEOs take to the stage at finance forum
---The preoccupation with initial public offerings (IPOs) versus other methods of raising money for the shipping industry carried over into this year's seventh Marine Money Greek ship-finance forum.
Bankers put forward their views on traditional ship finance and chief executive officers of three US-listed, Greek-controlled companies added their angles. Alternative markets to the US were discussed and outside the conference hall delegates hotly debated the chances of whether the latest issues would make it.
The record attendance included representatives of a heavy sprinkling of companies that have already listed in the US and a few that are known or believed to be heading in that direction.
Diana Inc vice-president Ioannis Zafirakis was on hand, as was Gabriel Petridis of Aries Maritime. George Gourdomichalis of FreeSeas moderated one session and Christopher Georgakis of Excel, Stamatis Molaris of Quintana and Nikolas Tsakos of Tsakos Energy Navigation (TEN) all took the podium.
Galbraiths head of research Philip Rogers, who ran down the market outlook for the dry-bulk sector, said he felt positively lonely among all the money men.
TEN hosted lunch and afterwards, guests heard a round-up of the company's activities.
Captain Panayiotis Tsakos was warmly welcomed to say a few words. Hastily noting that he has no formal position in the listed company (although others pointed out that the Tsakos family now has a 30% stake in TEN), the energetic captain, whose orders at Korean shipyards regularly make the pages of TradeWinds, announced that that day he had been involved in the formation of a Greek-Korean friendship association.
Source: www.tradewinds.no, Gillian Whittaker Athens, published: 21 October 2005
Angeliki Frangou: Scent of a Woman in World Shipping
---The new business star of Greek shipping is a lady. Within only a few months, her name has become the talk of the town in the world shipping industry, which is dominated by men. She bade 2004 farewell by listing her company on the New York stock exchange. She is the first Greek woman to head a shipping company, International Shipping Enterprises (ISE), raising $196 million from the demanding US stock market.
In 2005, in late August, she concluded a major business deal, buying out the shipping company Navios, 66% of which is owned by the David family, a big name in Greek industry that owns Coca-Cola Hellenic Bottling and the Frigoglass Group.
The person in question is Angeliki Frangou, who is becoming one of the top names in shipping.
In early December last year, Angeliki Frangou founded International Shipping Enterprises, which is listed on the New York stock exchange and has raised $196 million. Within a year, she is to invest this sum in cargo ships and shares of other shipping companies.
$607.5 billion buy-out of Navios complete
The merger of International Shipping Enterprises (ISE) and Navios Maritime has been successfully concluded. The new company, Navios Maritime Holdings, has made its first official appearance on the New York stock exchange after Angeliki Frangou carried out one of the greatest buy-outs in the world shipping industry, worth a total of $607.5 million.
More specifically, the ocean-going shipping company ISE, which was listed on the American stock exchange at the end of 2004, paid $607.5 million to acquire the South American company Navios Maritime, which was founded 50 years ago. It runs a fleet of 28 ships with an average age of 3.5 years. Six of these ships are state-of-the-art ultra-handymax vessels owned by the company.
Furthermore, it operates another 15 ships on a long-term timecharter, 13 of which it has the right to purchase. In addition, another seven panamax vessels are under construction and are to be delivered within the next two years.
Once the buy-out was official, the president and managing director of Navios, Angeliki Frangou, stated, that the successful conclusion of this buy-out marks the beginning of an ambitious new stage of development of Navios as a major dry bulk shipping company listed on the stock exchange.
Ms Frangou also made mention of the favourable cooperation she had with Navios personnel, and thanked all those who worked towards the successful completion of this venture.
For 50 years, producers of raw materials, merchants, importers and exporters of agricultural products, users of industrial products, shipowners, charterers, shipbrokers, agents, investors and entrepreneurs have placed their trust in and implemented their plans with the help of the great experience and innovations offered by Navios. As a transportation company operating on a worldwide scale, Navios mainly manages dry bulk handymax and panamax carriers, using their own and chartered ships, as well as ships on timecharter.
Source: Economic Outlook Magazine, October issue 2005
Superfast Ferries expanding in the Baltic Sea
Hellenic Petroleum Drills Oil in Libya
---Hellenic Petroleum plans to start drilling in Libyan oil deposits, until the end of 2005, with a potential capacity of 400m barrels.
Hellenic Petroleum will start drilling in Libyan oil deposits in Q4:05 with its consortium of the Austrian Woodside Energy (50%) and the Spanish Repsol (20%).
In Libya, the consortium has been assigned to research and drill two regions with an expected potential capacity of 400m barrels.
The management stated that the consortium needs to find oil reserves quickly and not to take the risk of looking for large deposits in order to take advantage of the high oil price levels.
The group currently explores opportunities in Albania, Libya and Montenegro.
Source: www.reporter.gr, 10:12 - 21 October 2005
Olympic sale still stuck on the runway
---THE original name of Olympic Airways was Icarus. Ever since, the airline has endured a history similar to its namesake.
From the 1930s, Greek state airlines have bounced from one financial crisis to the next.
With current losses estimated at Euro 1 billion (Pounds 684 million) and the European Commission threatening a fine of Euro 500 million for the payment of illegal government subsidies, the Athens Government has decided to draw a line under the whole mess and sell Olympic.
The original deadline was set for September but that came and went as ministers struggled to find a formula that would not attract further attention from Brussels.
The preferred solution, according to sources in Athens, is the Sabena formula.
After the Belgian airline collapsed in 2001 a consortium of banks and the state power company was persuaded to help to finance the new, smaller, SN Brussels Airlines, which took over many of Sabena's routes and managed to retain the stylised S that was painted on its aircraft tailfins.
Even by the standards of state airlines, Olympic has had a chequered career. It was originally Greek National Airlines, which had been operating since 1951.
In 1956 Aristotle Onassis, the shipping magnate, took a weight off the State's hands when he bought the company and in April 1957 it started to fly under its modern name.
It expanded rapidly, buying British Comet jets and undertaking the first of the now industry-wide practice, a code-share with British European Airways.
But the death of Onassis's son, Alexander, in an air crash caused him to sell the airline, which started the spiral of decline that has continued to this day, despite regular write-offs of the airline's debt in an attempt to keep it afloat.
To be fair to its staff, the reality is that successive governments and their politicians have milked the airline for all it was worth and it has come to typify the sort of corruption that has plagued the public sector.
Politicians have not only used the carrier as an employment provider for their constituents, but their families expect to travel free of charge or for just a token amount.
The Government has also always insisted that journalists fly on a discount of 97 per cent.
Source: The Times, 18 October 2005, David Watts