Greek Shipping News Cuts
Week 13 - 2006

 

Kefaloyiannis call for Cretan bidding stuns ferrymen

---As they come under increasing pressure from Marine minister Manolis Kefaloyiannis to toe the line, operators of Greek passenger ships claim the Aegean is being turned into a closed sea. The owners also contend the actions of the minister are not only contradictory but are unexplainable.
A frustrated Kefaloyiannis played an ace in his battle with Greek ferry operators to get them to abide by the Greek law which demands of them to submit route plans for the upcoming period. For a number of years owners have been refusing to do this saying such a demand is contrary to rules governing a free marketplace and to European Union regulations. Indeed, the EU is now in the process of taking Greece to the European Court for contravening EU law.
Owners were still celebrating the March 23 announcement that the government had bowed to EU pressure and freed its grip on economy-class ferry fares on certain routes from the beginning of April when Kefaloyiannis March 28 carried through a threat to call for open bidding for routes unless ferry operators submitted the required documentation. They did not, so the minister called for bids starting with the highly competitive routes from Piraeus to Crete. The minister, who is from Crete, said companies from throughout the EU can take part in the process. The Crete routes have for nearly 40 years been the domain of Athens Stock Exchange-listed Minoan and Anek Lines.
Companies winning the bidding will have exclusivity over the routes from Piraeus to Iraklion and from Piraeus to Chania covering them with eight conventional ferries, two highspeed ferries and two ro-ro ships for five years.
Stunned owners have refused to comment on the minister's move other than say the announcements to liberalise fares and then call for the bids are "unfathomable" and "in fact will make the Aegean a closed sea".
Analysts echo the view of owners that there is unlikely to be any interest on the part of international operators in 'public interest services' where the state sets the "terms and rules". Greek ferry companies say the state's control over the ferry network remain such that the only difference between the so-called 'public interest' routes and the 'non-profitable routes' is that the state uses taxpayers' money to subsidise the latter.
Owners also claim the specifications for the bidding favour older ships over modern tonnage.
Source: www.newsfront, 31 march 2006


Govt Mulls Pvt Investors For Piraeus Port
---ATHENS (Dow Jones)--The Greek government is considering opening the way to strategic investors for the transit business unit of Piraeus Port Authority (PPA.AT), reports financial daily Imerisia citing sources.
China's Cosco International Holdings Ltd. (0517.HK) is among interested parties, the report adds.
Greece has previously said that it intends to sell a stake in Pireaus Port in 2007.
Source: http://sg.biz.yahoo.com, Tuesday March 28, 3:16 PM


OLP's ATP up by 31%
---Piraeus Port has seen its income to fall by 5,4% during 2005 while its after tax profits increased by 31%, according to its published balance sheet.
More specifically the turnover retreated to 139,98 mln euros from 148 mln euros in 2004. The after tax profits increased to 11,32 mln euros from 10,01 mln euros.
According to same sources the 2005 divident will be 0,14 euro per share , that is 25% less than the 0,20 euros distributed in 2004.
Source: www.reporter.gr, 11:49 - 30 March 2006


LPG sector grows further
---The prospects of the Liquefied Petroleum Gas (LPG) market, a growing shipping sector in recent years, appear very positive, according to a report by German-Dutch bank DVB. LPG ships carry chemical products and chemical oil products.
Among the companies with current prospective interests in the sector are New York-listed Stealth Gas company of the Vafias family, the Angelikousis group, Dorian Hellas and the Latsis group.
Recent data shows that the supply-demand balance appears positive, thanks to the increase in production of LPG products, mainly from the Middle East and West Africa, while demand continues to rise. At the same time, LPG vessel availability is relatively low, therefore freight rates are also on the rise.
In the last couple of years, 64 new ships have been ordered, although this year about 103 vessels will reach the age limit of 30, a sign of an expected renewal of the existing fleet, even if it is still too early to know how many of those will eventually end up in the scrapyard.
The picture is different in very large gas carriers (VLGCs), which can carry products in excess of 70,000 cubic meters. Many construction orders have recently been placed for such ships, risking an oversupply unless demand also grows to meet it. In 2008, 22 new VLGC ships are also to be delivered, increasing shipping capacity in this category by 3.36 million cubic meters.
Illustrating the switch by more companies toward the LPG market is that in early 2004 only 34 ships were pending delivery, against 165 which are under construction, to be delivered by 2009; their total shipping capacity is estimated at 5 million cubic meters. January data estimates existing capacity at 14.6 mln cubic meters.
Source: By Nikos Roussanoglou - Kathimerini, http://www.ekathimerini.com, 28 Mar 2006


---Sharp contrast in figures, writes Nigel Lowry in Athens- Friday March 31 2006
The survey showed that the Greek-controlled fleet now represents about 8.4% of the world fleet by number of vessels and 16.1% of deadweight, shaved from 8.7% and 16.5% respectively last year.
The GSCC suggested the trend was likely to continue as the Greek-linked proportion of the world orderbook had also come down slightly since last year.
Against this, the survey hailed a further reduction in the average age of Greek shipping from 15.9 years a year ago to 15.3 years today and from 11.5 years to 11.3 years on a deadweight basis.
The Greek-controlled tanker fleet grew by a net 78 vessels, aggregating 4m dwt, while 2.7m dwt was also added to the dry bulk fleet.
There was also an increase of 32 gas carriers, while reductions were observed in general cargo tonnage and passenger vessels.
The only glum note was the decline of the fleet under the Greek flag, which not only failed to capture a portion of this expansion over the 12 months but reduced by 59 ships, or 7.5m dwt, an 11% slump in tonnage. It now comprises 910 vessels, including 151 on order, of 59.5m dwt, or about 32% of all Greek-owned capacity.
Liberia and the Marshall Islands have been the main flags to gain Greek-owned tonnage. Each has added more than 6m dwt, while Cyprus was the main loser behind the Greek flag, shedding 2.6m dwt of Greek-controlled vessels.
Source: www.lloydslist.com,


IACS detailed response to Greek concerns over new Common Structural Rules
---(London -) With the new IACS Common Structural Rules for tankers and bulk carriers scheduled to take effect on 1 April 2006, IACS has responded to several concerns recently expressed in a document circulated to industry by the Union of Greek Shipowners (UGS). The association has issued a detailed rebuttal and explanation on behalf of its members that addresses each of the concerns and allegations with respect to the new Rules that were raised in the UGS document.
The IACS response has been sent to the IMO, the European Union (DGTREN) and the principal industry associations.
IACS members have recognized that users accustomed to applying the familiar prescriptive formulae of the existing rules may find the Common Structural Rules approach to be more complex. To try to smooth the introduction of the new Rules, IACS members have conducted an extensive industry outreach programme over the last 18 months aimed at explaining the fundamental differences between the existing and the new approaches.
Further clarifications are provided in the extended response to the UGS concerns that has been prepared and distributed. The response clearly demonstrates that, contrary to the UGS conclusion, the new Common Structural Rules will result in a new generation of tankers and bulk carriers that will be at least as robust, and most probably more robust, than a comparable vessel designed to meet the existing rules of any IACS society.
For more information, contact: International Association of Classification Societies - IACS Permanent Secretary, International Association of Classification Societies Ltd, London, SW1H 0BH United Kingdom Phone: +44 (0)20 7976 0660 Fax: +44 (0)20 7808 1100 permsec@iacs.org.uk Web Site: www.iacs.org.uk
Source: Press Release, 28 March 2006


Superfast scales down northern exposure
COMPANY PROFILE:
Full company name: Attica Group S.A.
Headquarters: Athens, Greece
Founded: 1918, the Panagopoulos family acquired control in 1992
Listed: Athens Stock Exchange
Fleet as per 31 Dec 2005: 8 Superfast fast ropax ferries, 2 freight roro ships, 8 Blue Star fast ropax ferries
Source: Fairplay International Shipping Weekly, 30 Mar 2006


Omega on the Road: New Year, New Company,New Ships
Dividends & Subordination
Adding credibility to the $0.50 base dividend, sole selling shareholderGeorgios Kassiotis has agreed to subordinate 3,140,000 of his 3,150,000 shares (20.8% of the company post-offering) until after December 31, 2008, with the end of the subordination period contingent upon a variety of conditions.
Source: Freshly Minted Weekly online, www.marinemoney.com, VOLUME 2, ISSUE 13, March 30, 2006


Euroseas Reports Results for the Fourth Quarter and Full Year 2005
---Euroseas Ltd., an owner and operator of drybulk and container carrier vessels and provider of seaborne transportation for dry bulk and containerized cargoes, announced today its results for the Fourth Quarter and for the Full Year periods ended December 31, 2005.
Fourth Quarter 2005 Results:
For the fourth quarter 2005, the company reported total net revenues of $9,891,447 and a net income of $4,721,478. EBITDA for the quarter was $6,298,234. Please see below for EBITDA reconciliation to net income.
On average, 7.39 vessels were operated during the fourth quarter of 2005 earning a blended average time charter equivalent rate of $14,997 per day.
Earnings per share for the fourth quarter 2005 were $0.13, calculated on 36,781,159 weighted average number of shares outstanding during the quarter.
Full Year 2005 Results:
Total net revenues for the full year 2005 amounted to $42,135,052, with a net income of $25,178,454. EBITDA for the full year 2005 was $30,422,120.
On average, 7.10 vessels were operated during 2005 earning a blended average time charter equivalent rate of $17,487 per day.
Earnings per share for the full year 2005 were $0.78, calculated on 32,218,427 weighted average number of shares outstanding during the year.
Management Commentary:
Aristides Pittas, Chairman and CEO of Euroseas commented: "2005 has been a pivotal year in the development of Euroseas.
On the business front, we acquired in November 2005 the containership M/V Artemis, built in 1987 with a 2,098 teu and 29,693 dwt capacity, which is employed under a time charter terminating in December 2008 at the rate of $19,000 per day. In December 2005, we also concluded debt financing for $15.5 million to fund part of the acquisition of M/V Artemis.
We also declared and paid two quarterly dividends since our private placement totaling $ 0.13 per share, one of $0.07 in November 2005 and one of $0.06 in February 2006. Our policy is to pay quarterly dividends to our shareholders each February, May, August and November in amounts the Board of Directors may determine to be appropriate. Our intention is to distribute to our shareholders substantially all available cash flow generated from operations less expenses, debt service, reserves for drydocking expenses and special surveys, necessary working capital reserves and any funds required for the growth of our Company. "
And Mr. Pittas concluded: "Our overall strategy is to maximize our shareholders return by taking advantage of the shipping cycles and grow our company at the right time by focusing on age and size segments that maximize return on equity. We have entered in an agreement to sell one of our handysize vessels, m/v John P, for $4.95 million gross. With these proceeds and the cash available from the private placement and utilizing standard leverage, we are currently in a strong position to take advantage of market opportunities, as they may occur in 2006. Our fleet deployment strategy is to have a mix between profitable period time charters, which generate stable and predictable cash flows, and spot market operations which can often enhance earnings, the mix depending on our expectations on how the markets will develop. It is this strategy that has enabled our family to be successful in the shipping arena in the past and we are confident that the same strategy will work as well now that we became a public company."
For more information, visit our website www.euroseas.gr
Source: Press Release, 03/28/06 Maroussi, Athens, Greece - March 28, 2006


Diana Shipping Inc. Announces Acquisition of Its Fleet Manager
---ATHENS, Greece, March 28 /PRNewswire-FirstCall/ -- Diana Shipping Inc. (NYSE: DSX) today announced that it has agreed to acquire its fleet commercial and technical manager, Diana Shipping Services S.A., or DSS, for a purchase price of $20.0 million. The acquisition is expected to close on or about April 1, 2006. The acquisition follows the exercise of an option granted to DSS's shareholders at the time of Diana's initial public offering.
Diana Shipping's Chairman and Chief Executive Officer, Simeon Palios, stated: "We are happy that with the acquisition of DSS, we are bringing the full commercial and technical management of our fleet in-house. We believe that having DSS's professional and experienced staff join us will only enhance our operations."
About the Company
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. Diana Shipping Inc. priced its initial public offering of common stock on March 17, 2005
Source: Diana Shipping Inc.