Greek Shipping News Cuts
Week 01 - 2005
---Economy-class fares on busy ferry routes from the port of Piraeus to Greek islands or those served by at least three companies are to be liberalized in the next few days, in line with a recent announcement by Merchant Marine Minister Manolis Kefaloyiannis, sources said.
The affected routes are: from Piraeus to Crete, Paros, Naxos, Santorini, Andros, Tinos, Myconos, Syros, Kos, Rhodes, Chios, Mytilene, Aegina, Methana, Porto Heli and possibly Patmos, Leros and Kalymnos.
All other routes will operate under the so-called public service status, with their economy fares determined or subsidized by the government.
The issue will be discussed by the Coastal Shipping Transport Council to convene on Monday. The European Commission has already sent a final warning to the minister of merchant marine regarding eight points in a 2001 law which contravene the EU regulation of 1992.
The survey found that the fuel costs reached 62 percent of overall costs of the big high-speed ferries and 49 percent of all costs for small high-speed passenger vessels. Conventional ferries saw their fuel account for 40 percent of their costs.
Source: http://www.ekathimerini.com, 5 Jan 06, NIKOS BARDOUNIAS
Greeks continue spending on S&P
---Greek owners have kept up their selling and buying activity despite a lower number of deals concluded.
Greek owners continued their powerful presence in the sale-and-purchase (S&P) market in 2005 with acquisitions totalling well over 20% of the number of ships bought worldwide - but higher prices meant that the number of deals was down substantially from 2004 levels.
Allowing for off-market deals and for some reported purchases that fell through, TradeWinds' calculations show Greek interests snapped up around 290 ships of more than 19 million dwt in 2005, compared with 373 vessels of 24.4 million dwt in the previous year. But spending was close to the same level, at around $8.2bn, against $8.5bn in 2004, indicating the higher prices commanded.
Fleet renewal was on the agenda of many owners who had their funds boosted by the strong freight markets. The overwhelming majority of the ships purchased, some 68%, were younger than 15 years old, including a significant number of newbuilding resale deals.
Spearheading the buying, as TradeWinds has previously recorded, were Greek companies that had already listed or were preparing for listing on international stock exchanges, or were making use of some other financial vehicle. They accounted for close to 100 reported purchases totalling expenditure of some $2.5bn.
The biggest buyers in 2005 were Harry Vafias's StealthGas, with 13 LPG carriers, listed drybulk operators Excel Maritime and Quintana, with 10 ships each, and DryShips and Top Tankers, with nine ships apiece.
However, 2005 was a year in which more deals than ever were done off market, many subject to initial public offerings (IPOs), and in some cases agreed purchases were later allowed to lapse as prospective listers froze their plans. Primera Maritime, for example, was said to have lined up purchases of five handysize bulk carriers with a view to filing for an IPO in early autumn but the company reportedly allowed the deadline on all but one of the purchases to lapse.
Softening vessel prices in the latter part of the year also led brokers to note that a significant number of reported deals were failing, in some cases with the ships being later sold at a much reduced level. Many of the historically active Greek secondhand buyers continued to be absent, or virtually absent, from the 2005 reports as their turn to newbuildings has absorbed funds.
Diamantis Diamantides of Marmaras Navigation had no reported secondhand purchase in the year, while George Procopiou of Dynacom was linked to just a couple of ships believed to have been bought for special projects.
Other companies have been actively buying and selling. Dimitris Procopiou's Centrofin disposed of three early-1980s-built tankers but has spent over $225m to buy five younger ships, the latest deal coming just before year-end with the purchase of a 159,000-dwt newbuilding resale contract from Euronav and the Wah Kwong Group for $80.5m.
Elmira Shipping profitably sold six handymax bulkers to Eagle Bulk Shipping for $195m in March, then a month later invested some $85m in the purchase of four ro-ro ships, as well as a couple of chemical tankers, which escaped brokers' attention.
Stamford Navigation has also featured on both sides of the market, selling four units and being linked to half a dozen purchases, the latest being the December acquisition of two capesize bulkers from AM Nomikos.
However, the large en bloc deals by Greek owners that figured so prominently in 2004 were absent last year, although in June IMS was reported to have paid out a total $175m for 11 tankers, nine of which were in Parmar KS, previously managed by Oslo-listed Camillo Eitzen.
Gillian Whittaker Athens, published: 06 January 2006
Bow Mariner: captain to blame
Source: www.fairplay.co.uk, 3 Jan 05
Industry responds to Bow Mariner report
---THE independent tanker owners' grouping Intertanko has responded to the highly critical US Coast Guard report on the loss of the chemical tanker Bow Mariner
The IIG formed a Steering Committee1 in January 2005, which appointed a working group drawn from members of the individual organisations together with the International Group of P&I clubs. From a data base of incidents that have occurred over the past 25 years the working group identified 35 that involved fires and explosions in cargo areas on tankers and set itself the task of identifying the root causes and establishing whether there were any common factors, with the objective of identifying corrective actions that would prevent any further such incidents. In order to achieve this objective a number of task groups were formed and charged with studying different issues and potential corrective measures.
Source: www.mgn.net, Thursday, 05 January 2006
Sarcasm aside, however, more informed market followers are confident that the dividend will be paid, pointing out that the recent holidays and the compliance demands of public companies, particularly the need to get Board approvals on anything remotely like a dividend issue, explain the current silence. The Board next convenes at the end of January.
Of course negative talk such as is noted above is nothing new, especially as DryShips was under considerable short pressure at the end of the year. By some estimates two million shares were sold short. Hedge funds are the least buy and hold oriented investors, and it would be no surprise to find even large holders making a quick yearend buck on DRYS. That is, after all, the name of the game. The stock was back up above $13 as we wrote this.
Source: Freshly Minted Weekly online, www.marinemoney.com, 5 Jan 06
---Angelos Plakopitas to be replaced in due course, writes Nigel Lowry in Athens- Wednesday January 04 2006
GREEK banker and investment pioneer Angelos Plakopitas has resigned from the board of Tsakos Energy Navigation, the New York listed tanker company has announced.
Executives indicated that Mr Plakopitas stepped down to concentrate on other activities due to a heavy schedule.
As founder and managing director of Global Finance SA, one of the leading private equity and venture capital management companies in Greece and south-east Europe, Mr Plakopitas just a few weeks ago increased a majority shareholding in his firm from 51.1% to 81.1% after acquiring a 30% tranche of shares from co-owner EFG Eurobank.
The investment company has shareholdings in more than 50 companies in 10 countries and manages or advises half a dozen funds with more than $400m.
TEN operates a fleet of 25 tankers of about 2.9m dwt and it has a further 11 ships totalling 1.1m dwt on order including a first LNG carrier.
EasyCruise line eyes American market
---Jan 5, 06: MIAMI, Fl - The founder of easyCruise says he'll bring his bright orange ship to South Florida later this year for a no-frills alternative to traditional cruising.
Entrepreneur Stelios Haji-Ioannou said Tuesday that he plans to begin offering Caribbean cruises from Miami or Fort Lauderdale in November aboard easyCruiseOne, his bare-bones, no-frills cruise liner now sailing between Barbados and Martinque.
Haji-Ioannou said he's in talks with Fort Lauderdale's Bahia Mar Yachting Center and marinas in Miami Beach about offering easyCruise passengers an alternative to South Florida's bustling ports, which he believes make for ''intimidating'' departure points.
Haji-Ioannou, the 38-year-old founder of easyJet, Europe's second-largest discount airline, launched easyCruise in May in the Mediterranean, catering to young British travelers. He said he's now intent on becoming a player in the North American cruising market, which accounts for the overwhelming majority of cruisers worldwide.
At 4,000 tons, easyCruiseOne is tiny compared to the typical 70,000-ton cruise liner sailing from South Florida. The orange-and-white ship carries 170 passengers and lacks many of the amenities found on other liners, such as casinos and spas. Fares are as low as $24 per person per day.
Haji-Ioannou explained that easyCruise passengers tend to be younger than the typical cruise-ship passenger. That makes them more likely to want to take in the local nightlife, which is where easyCruise, with its after-midnight departures, comes in. He said major cruise lines such as Carnival and Royal Caribbean turn off the young by departing before nightfall.
"There are people who refuse to spend a night on a tacky cruise ship with old people," he said. "Those aren't my words. That's how people feel about cruise ships."
He added: "We're really attracting people on our ship who would not take a traditional cruise.
London-based easyCruise is one of 15 business ventures created over the past decade by Haji--Ioannou, the son of a Greek shipping tycoon. EasyJet, which he started at age 28, now has shares traded on the London Stock Exchange and a market capitalization of $2.1 billion. Haji-Ioannou said easyCruise has yet to turn a profit, but he remains confident -- so much so that he envisions a fleet of up to 10 ships someday.
His strategy in other ventures has been to turn over operations to a licensee or franchisee. He's yet to do so with easyCruise, though he said he's talking with several small-ship operators, including one based in South Florida.
Analysts who follow Miami's publicly traded companies said they need not worry about easyCruise. They said easyCruise appeals to a different market -- primarily travelers interested in getting from one vacation destination to another.
"Essentially, what he's selling you is cheap transportation," said Bob Simonson, an analyst at William Blair & Co. in Chicago. "There is demand for that. I'm just not sure it's very big.