Greek Shipping News Cuts
Week 51 - 2005

 

ON AND OFF THE AKTI MIAOULI

 Shipping is the prototype of how the entire Greek economy should operate, Nicholas Garganas, governor of the Bank of Greece told a Piraeus Marine Club working luncheon at the club, December 19. However, Garganas said shipping is a loner, and not followed by the rest of the Greek economy. Discussing the importance of structural reforms to the future of the Greek economy, Garganas said that in general the Greek society needs to "be re-organised" for the economy to become competitive.
 During their annual gala Christmas dinner, members of the Hellenic Institute of Marine Technology, (ELINT) hailed the Tsavliris Group for its contribution to shipping and the cultural wellbeing of Piraeus. At the event, December 18 at the Ledra Marriott Hotel, Athens, Elint president, Byron Tomazos noted that as a salvor over the past 30 years Tsavliris has, from some 50 salvage stations, undertaken over 2,000 salvage operations, some of them among the world's best known and most testing. He also noted the group's involvement in bulk ship operation, environmental protection and maritime education. In presenting the award, Nikolaos Varvates president of the Union of Shipowners of Mediterranean Cargo Vessels spoke of the group's contribution to shipping. Nicos Tsavliris, accepting the award on behalf of the group, commented on the long service of people working with the group and noted the dangers associated with salvage, not least those like that experienced by salvage master Nicos Pappas who was detained in Pakistan where he went to oversee the salvage operation of the grounded tanker Tasman Spirit, mid-2003. Tsavliris also noted that, "the sea and Greece never die".
 Greece's Marine ministry secretary general, John Tzoannos evaluated the shipping power of the European Union (EU), especially the quality of EU shipping services and the relationship between the community and China, when he addressed the Marintec China conference in Shanghai earlier this month. Tzoannos underlined the important role China plays in the global marketplace and the shipping industry and emphasised its part in ensuring commonly acceptable regulations are applied to international shipping.
 The Panhellenic Union of Tug and Salvage Vessel Owners ('Agios Nikolaos') has elected a new management board. The board now comprises: Stavros Karapiperis, president; Alexandros Gigilinis, vice president; Panagiotis Kouzounis, general secretary; Polykarpos Melekos, treasurer; and as members: George Papadopoulos, Dimitris Vamvakaris and Elias Giakos.
Source: Newsfront Issue nr. 48 (23 December 2005)


Greece to create maritime service cluster and improve sea training
The cons of Greek shipping are the often extreme unionism and the inflexible labor laws, the state bureaucracy and the lack of proper infrastructure, qualified staff and experience in maritime clusters.
Source: By Nikos Bardounias - Kathimerini, 21 Dec 2005


More than 70 senior representatives from the Greek insurance market heard presentations in the splendid surroundings of the Grande Bretagne.
Chaired by BMS group chief executive John Spencer, the event began with a keynote address from the British ambassador to Greece, Simon Gass, who emphasised the strength of historic connections between Britain and Greece.
He supported the initiative to develop insurance and reinsurance trading links between the two countries.
Tourism and shipping were major sources of income for Greece, while London remained the largest insurance market in the world, said Mr Gass.
This involved the importance of good communications between all parties, establishing early on the ambitions and objectives of all those concerned, agreeing contract details early, choosing the reinsurer and broker carefully, adopting counter-measures in advance and understanding the advantages and disadvantages of the reinsurance options.
Paul Wordley, partner at Holman Fenwick & Willan, stressed the benefits of having certainty at the outset compared with relying on latitude when a claim arose.
Source: 22 December 2005, Lloyd's List, (c) 2005 Informa PLC


Diana Shipping Inc. President Anastassis Margaronis Interviewed by Wall Street Reporter
ATHENS, GREECE, December 20, 2005 - Diana Shipping Inc. (NYSE: DSX) today announced that its President, Anastassis Margaronis, has been interviewed by the Wall Street Reporter online publication. The interview may be heard by logging onto the website www.wallstreetreporter.com.
Among the topics discussed in the interview are the following:
> Supply and demand conditions and the role of China and India in driving the growth of the dry bulk shipping market.
> Managements view as to short-term trends in dry bulk shipping rates, and the effect that any rise in those rates will have on the Company, as Diana Shipping has seven vessels on short-term time charters that will expire through early 2006.
> The Companys strategy of maintaining a young, cost-efficient fleet.
> The track record and significant equity ownership of the Companys management team.
> The Companys low level of debt and its ability to support future growth.
> Diana Shippings high dividend payout policy (quarterly dividends equal to 100% of cash from operations, less drydocking reserves).
About Diana Shipping Inc.
Diana Shipping Inc. is a global provider of shipping transportation services. The Company specializes in transporting dry bulk cargoes, including such commodities as iron ore, coal, grain and other materials along worldwide shipping routes. The Company currently owns eleven modern Panamax and one modern Capesize bulk carrier and expects to take delivery of an additional newly built Panamax dry bulk carrier in February 2006.
Additional information about the Company may be found in the Companys prospectus dated December 6, 2005, that is filed with the SEC and which you may obtain, free of charge, by visiting the SEC Web site at www.sec.gov.
Source: http://www.dianashippinginc.com/web/default.fds


Global Oceanic Carriers Ltd - Interim Results
Global Oceanic Carriers Limited (AIM:GOC), the AIM listed Greek based dry bulk shipping company, today reports its interim figures for the six months ended 30 September 2005.
Summary
- Purchased two Panamax and one Handymax vessels, two of which are on long term charter and one on the spot market
- The period from April to September, due to different dates of vessel delivery, reflects only four months trading and only two months of the full fleet operation
- The Company has cash at bank of US$18.36 million
- Turnover for the period was US$5.8 million with profit after administrative costs (but before a non recurring item) of US$1.42 million
- Non delivery of the fourth vessel has incurred a non recurring cost for the loss of the deposit, resulting in a operating loss of US$297,160
- Operated in difficult market conditions, though the Company remains confident of the outlook for dry bulk shipping in the medium term
Commenting on the Interim Results, Vassilis Vintiadis, Chief Executive of Global Oceanic Carriers Limited, said: "These are our maiden set of interims since joining the AIM market. The vessels secured have provided high margin revenues and we are confident that they will continue to do so in the forthcoming year."
"We have been operating in an unusually unpredictable and difficult market. However our strategy remains to expand the fleet in the medium term with newer vessels and to place them on appropriate long-term charters."
Chairman's statement
Business progress
We are pleased to report that the fleet contributed US$1.42 million profit after administration costs (but before a non recurring item) for the six months to 30 September 2005
The first of the vessels, GO Faith, was acquired in mid June 2005. The second vessel, GO Pride, was acquired at the end of June, and the third vessel, GO Public, was delivered at the beginning of August.
The six month period from April to September, due to different dates of vessel delivery, reflects only four months trading and two months of the full fleet in operation.
GO Pride and GO Public are on long term charters of US$18,000 and US$34,500 per day respectively, and have produced excellent revenues and profits. These charters are not due for renewal until the spring of 2006.
GO Faith has been fully utilised throughout the period on spot charters at varying rates. It remains the intention to secure a long term charter for this vessel. This vessel is currently on charter until mid January 2006.
GO Faith passed its intermediate survey in November 2005 and GO Pride completed its special survey in October 2005 and both were completed to budget.
Operating conditions and fleet
The Dry Bulk Index fell over the summer months with rates suffering a marked unexpected decline, although since then the market has shown improvement but remains well below the levels of 2004. The outlook for the sector remains encouraging, with China and India continuing to drive the market for dry bulk.
Whilst the market has improved since the summer, rates have not yet recovered to the levels anticipated by industry analysts and commentators.
We had intended acquiring a further vessel in the summer, and had committed to purchase this ship in an agreement signed in January 2005. The Board, with the co-operation of the ship's owners, postponed the delivery of this vessel until December, when it was hoped charter rates would have risen substantially to support this acquisition. The Board has now reached agreement with the owners to withdraw from the transaction, as rates have not recovered sufficiently to allow the acquisition of this ship at the agreed price. As part compensation for the Company withdrawing from this transaction, the owners of the vessel will receive 1,473,840 new ordinary shares in the Company which it is expected will be admitted to trading on AIM on 29 December 2005. This compensation is in addition to the 10% deposit (of US$1.72 million) paid earlier this year to the owners of the vessel, which is now forfeited by the Company. Although this decision was taken with great reluctance, your directors consider it to be the sensible and prudent one for the business. The necessity to write off the deposits on the fourth ship in the period reported, has resulted in an operating loss US$297,160.
Whilst the dry bulk sector has experienced changeable and unpredictable trends throughout the period, the fundamental strengths and dynamics of the sector remain in place. We still believe that Chinese demand for iron ore will be a key driver in assisting the revival of charter rates.
It remains our strategy to expand the fleet with newer vessels and to place them on appropriate long term charters. We are considering replacing one of the older vessels early next year, and are actively reviewing the available market. We continue to explore other potential opportunities that would enhance value to our shareholders.
Debt reorganisation
Since we are not concluding the acquisition of the fourth ship, US$8 million of loan will be repaid to our bankers Bayerische Hypo-und Vereinsbank AG ("HVB") imminently. The bank has agreed, in principle, to revise the terms of the existing loan to reflect that their reduced facility is being serviced by the current fleet of three ships. We expect that a formal agreement will be reached shortly with the bank as regards this.
Board change
Allan Moloney, one of our non-executive directors, who was actively involved in setting up the Company, is stepping down from the Board. We thank him for his contribution in establishing the Company.
Outlook
At this time the Company is not in a position to pay a dividend as intended at the time of our Admission to AIM, however it remains the intention of the Board to pay a dividend as soon as the financial position permits. The Board remains optimistic about the sector, and supports the widely held view that dry bulk will continue to grow and prosper over the next few years.
Konstantinos Dimitriou Non-Executive Chairman 22 December 2005
Source: Global Oceanic Carriers Ltd 22 December 2005


Navios Maritime Announces New $649 Million Global Loan Facility with HSH Nordbank
PIRAEUS, Greece, Dec. 22 /PRNewswire-FirstCall/ -- Navios Maritime Holdings Inc ("Navios") (Nasdaq: BULK, BULKU, BULKW), a leading, vertically integrated global shipping company specializing in the dry-bulk shipping industry, today announced that it has entered into a new Global Loan Facility (the "New Facility") with HSH Nordbank for $649 million. The New Facility provides financing for six vessels being acquired through the exercise of purchase options as well as the acquisition of four other vessels as announced today and discussed below. The New Facility also refinances the existing loan facility with HSH Nordbank.
Ms Angeliki Frangou, the Chairman and CEO of Navios commented, "The New Facility with HSH Nordbank allows us flexibility to pursue our long-term growth strategy. The reduced amortization and lower average interest rate will free up financial resources to permit Navios to take advantage of accretive opportunities."
The New Facility has several significant benefits to Navios, including:
* Reduced interest cost: The average spread over LIBOR for the New Facility has been reduced to 1.92% from 2.15%, and the interest spread for the vessel financing tranches is 1.50%.
* Reduced amortization: An aggregate of $96.2 million of principal payments under the New Facility would be deferred during the period 2006 through 2010 as compared to the old facility. Of this deferral, approximately 80% would originally have been due in 2006 and 2007.
* Increased term:. The New Facility has an average term of 8.6 years as compared to the old facility which had an average term of 5.6 years.
* Extended repayment profile: The annual amortization for the portion of the New Facility secured by the vessels is based on a repayment profile of 15.2 years. This compares favorably against the old facility under which 83% of the amount outstanding was repaid over the first five years of the loan.
Ms Frangou continued, "The New Facility provides Navios with a strong capital base and enhances the flexibility of Navios's balance sheet. The New Facility underscores the strength of Navios's commercial alliance with HSH Nordbank."
Purchase of Vessels
Navios today also announced that it had purchased four Panamax dry-bulk carriers from Maritime Enterprises Management S.A., a company affiliated with the Frangou family. Three of these vessels are being delivered to the Navios Fleet before the end of 2005 while the fourth vessel will be delivered in January 2006.
The purchase price for these four vessels was $125.5 million. The purchase price was funded as follows:
* $13.0 million was funded from cash on Navios's balance sheet
* $80.3 million was funded through a drawdown on the new Global Loan Facility
* $32.2 million was funded by the issuance of approximately 5.5 million shares of Navios valued at $5.85 per share, subject to a one-year lock up value
Mr. Michael McClure, Navios's Chief Financial Officer stated, "This transaction provided us with a number of critical benefits. First, it assisted in obtaining the global loan facility on favorable terms by providing a larger physical asset base against which the bank could lend. In addition, as some of the purchase price was paid in the form of Navios shares, the acquisition provided additional equity on the balance sheet. Perhaps most importantly, the acquisition is expected to be accretive to Navios's financial performance as measured by both cash flow and net income."
Ms. Angeliki Frangou stated, "The acquisition will allow Navios to employ familiar vessels of a type and age that are consistent with Navios's fleet profile. Maritime's willingness to accept Navios stock as part of the purchase price for the vessels reflects its faith in the dry bulk industry generally and Navios specifically. Maritime's belief is particularly demonstrated by its acceptance of unregistered shares, subject to a one-year lock-up, at an approximately 19.9 % premium to Navios's closing price on December 21, 2005."
In light of the nature of the transaction, the Company's disinterested directors approved the acquisition and received independent valuations of the vessels from several ship brokers and a fairness opinion from an investment banking firm.
Fleet Update
As previously announced, Navios has also exercised purchase options for six of the vessels it has been operating under long term time charters. Of these six vessels, Navios has already taken delivery of one, a second is being delivered this week and the remaining four will be delivered during the first four months of 2006. Following the acquisition of the four panamaxes and delivery of the six vessels through the option exercises, Navios's fleet will consist of 33 vessels, of which 16 will be owned and the remaining 17 will be on long term charters at rates substantially below the current spot rate.
Of the 17 vessels on long term charters, nine are currently in operation, eight will be delivered within the next three years and nine have purchase options.
Based on these acquisitions, the Company anticipates that its fixed employment coverage for 2006 will be approximately 62%. The expected time charter equivalent rate of the vessels with fixed employment will average approximately $18,000 net per day.
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. Navios is committed to providing best-in-class service to both customers and business partners. Navios maintains offices in Piraeus, Greece; South Norwalk, Connecticut; and Montevideo, Uruguay. Navios's stock is listed on the NASDAQ where it trades under the symbols "BULK," "BULKU," and "BULKW." Risks and uncertainties are described in reports filed by Navios Maritime Holdings Inc. with the United States Securities and Exchange Commission.
Source: Navios Maritime Holdings Inc. Press Release, 22 December 2005


Another 'blank cheque' written
A new 'blank cheque' shipping vehicle, Star Maritime Acquisition Corp, is moving forward with its takeover scheme after pricing its 18,867,500-unit IPO at $10/share. In addition, 2.8M units are available for over-allotments and 1.1M units were sold through a private placement with management. The American Stock Exchange announced on Friday that it had listed Star's common stock and warrants under the symbol 'SEA.U'. In recently filed SEC documents, Star said that up to $184.7M of the proceeds will be put in trust for use in a yet-to-be-identified business combination targeting the shipping sector, which must be consummated within the next 18 months or the funds will be returned to shareholders. Star was formed in May and is led by Akis Tsirigakis (who owns 12.6% of shares) and Petros Pappas (who owns 11.5% of shares). Tsirigakis is a joint managing director of Greece's Oceanbulk Maritime and Pappas is that company's founder. The latest blank cheque venture follows last year's successful move by Angeliki Frangou's International Shipping Enterprises, which raised a similar sum via an IPO - $182M - and eventually purchased Navios for $607.5M.
Source: fairplay Daily News - Email Products 19 Dec 2005


Athina and Alexandra Martinos honoured
Martinos is an instantly recognisable name in shipping whether it is connected with Thenamaris, Eastern Mediterranean or Minerva, the three companies controlled respectively by brothers Dinos, Thanassis and Andreas Martinos.
But as they say, behind every successful man is a woman. And in the case of the Martinos brothers, the most influential female presence must be their mother Athina Martinos, the power behind the family's entry into shipping.
This redoubtable lady was recently made an honorary member of the National Order of Merit of Malta in the grade of officer, having been a long-time supporter of the Malta flag. John Gauci-Maistre, chairman of International Services and his wife hosted a luncheon in her honour. It was attended by leading members of Malta's shipping community, politicians and diplomats.
Change scene to Athens and just a couple of days later Alexandra Martinos, wife of Andreas, was in the spotlight receiving a commemorative certificate on behalf of Minerva for a donation of $40,000 to support Helmepa Junior, the branch of the Hellenic Maritime Environment Protection Association that aims to raise awareness in children.
Now 12 years old, Helmepa Junior has reached out to some 33,000 children between the ages of five and 13 in 700 schools around Greece. Representatives gathered in Athens to elect their new board and watch presentations to members of some of the best groups.
Besides the presence of some well-known shipowners committed to the Helmepa cause, a number of politicians and diplomats also turned out for the occasion. But it must be admitted that when the speechifying was over and it was announced that a small reception for the adults was to begin and snacks for the younger guests were about to be served, the thunder of little feet was soon heard.
Gillian Whittaker Athens published: 22 December 2005
Source: www.tradewinds.no


Technology to make ships green
Green engineering could help protect the sea as marine trade expands.
Ships use less fuel per kilo of cargo than road or air transport. So by at least one environmental measure, shipping has good green credentials.
But as shipping grows, environmentalists worry that the marine life beneath them may suffer.
Areas of concern include the transfer of invasive species from one region to another, either attached to a ship's hull or carried in ballast water tanks.
Another worry is underwater noise and its effects on marine mammals, particularly whales and dolphins.
And there is also the issue of air emissions from ships' exhausts containing sulphur and nitrogen oxides and the greenhouse gas carbon dioxide.
The marine industry is looking to engineering innovations to help.
Clean flushing
Currently, ships attempt to clean up their ballast tanks of coastal water by emptying and refilling them once in open ocean. But this is a risky procedure and in stormy conditions it can be too dangerous to carry out.
Sterilising ballast water with ozone, ultra-violet light or even heating is an alternative, but the ever cost-conscious shipping industry is on the lookout for a cheaper system.
Perhaps Aubaflow might fit the bill. Developed for the oil company Saudi Aramco, whose tankers carry enough ballast water to fill 4,000 swimming pools, it would prevent coastal species from travelling further than a mile in ballast tanks.
"The Aubaflow system works by having a big opening in the front of the ship and it's connected with pipes to the ship's various ballast water tanks," said Ahmed Al Babtain of Vela International, the company that has patented the system.
"The ballast water comes from the opening into the tanks, fills up the tanks and then overflows out into the open ocean from the back of the ship"
Although still in the early stages of development, Mr Al Babtain told the BBC their system would flush out all the ship's ballast tanks within 24 hours.
Reducing pollutants
Minimising polluting air emissions from ships is the aim of Europe's Project Hercules, an initiative combining shipping industry and academic expertise.
Nicolaos Kyrtatos, professor of marine engineering at the National Technical University in Athens, is co-ordinator of Project Hercules. He told the BBC that cleaning up ships' exhausts in the future would require more efficient engines.
This would mean they use less fuel and so produce fewer pollutants and, importantly, less carbon dioxide.
Professor Kyrtatos believes ships' engines could be adapted to meet impending legislation which, he predicted, would require emissions of nitrogen oxides from ship exhausts to be cut by 30% by the year 2007. These are relatively mild targets in his estimation.
The shipping company Wallenius Wilhelmsen had more stringent targets in mind when it produced its design for a zero emissions car ferry for the year 2025.
Unusually for a car ferry, this ship would use three, massive computer-controlled sails to harness the maximum wind energy. And on the sails, a coating of solar panels would trap energy from the sun.
A pentamaran structure - a long, thin, main hull stabilised by four side hulls, or sponsons - would cut power consumption by reducing friction on the ship in the water. The ship would also harness wave energy, which is normally the force slowing down ships.
"On each of its four sponsons, we would place three fins," explained Lena Blomqvist, Walenius Wilhelmsen's environmental chief.
"These fins mimic the movement of a dolphin and both propel the ship forward and generate electrical energy which we can store in batteries and use for systems on board the ship."
Fuel cells which produce electricity from the combination of hydrogen and oxygen, would supplement other energy sources and release only water vapour into the environment.
Balance sheet
So with technologies like these, and many others, the environmental future of shipping need not be all doom and gloom, according to the environmental consultant Steve Raaymakers, formerly of the UN's International Maritime Organization.
"There's been a significant improvement in many areas of shipping over the last 15 years," he said.
"We've seen the number of accidents and oil spills steadily decreasing over time while, simultaneously, there's been a steady increase in shipping. So that's a remarkable achievement.
"But what we've got to bear in mind is that the amount of shipping is increasing - various studies predict a three to five fold increase in shipping activity globally in the next few decades.
"And what this brings with it is the risk that, while the environmental performance of individual ships may significantly improve, the overall environmental impact may steadily get worse because we just have such a significant increase in shipping, overall, in the world. "
Source: By Tracey Logan BBC World Service's Discovery programme Last Updated: Wednesday, 21 December 2005, 09:05 GMT