Greek Shipping News Cuts
Week 14 - 2006

 

Develop Greece with free zones

The drafting of zoning plans, both a general one and for special uses, is an important opportunity that should not be wasted. The proposal should provide for free business zones which, with the appropriate infrastructure, could create a new dynamism in the economy.
New free zones in ports close to industrial areas, at borders or next to road and rail arteries, even on some islands, could be established for the storage, distribution and manufacture of products originating in third countries.
It is clear that businesses within these zones will provide jobs and income for the broader region and revenue for the state coffers.
The idea is a simple one, but its effectiveness depends on the way it is carried out. It could be a strong development tool if tax breaks and other incentives are provided for businesses investing in these areas.
However, what is important is to avoid past mistakes such as the announcement of free zones like the Astakos Shipping and Industrial Zone without the proper infrastructure. It is clear that a free zone without easy access to transport and ready links to electricity, natural gas and water utilities are not places that will attract business.
Source: http://www.ekathimerini.com, 7 April 2006


Transneft links Black Sea oil to Greek pipeline
Source: Fairplay Daily News, 05 Apr 2006


First COSCO Container Ship To Use Piraeus Port Docks Sat
---ATHENS (Dow Jones)--The first container ship of state-owned China Ocean Shipping (Group) Co., known as COSCO, to dock at the Port of Piraeus, will arrive on Saturday morning, Greece's Merchant Marine Ministry said Friday.
"The Panamanian-flagged "River Elegance" will unload 580 containers at Piraeus' container terminal," the Ministry said.
The use of Piraeus by COSCO is the result of the meeting between COSCO representatives and Merchant Shipping Minister Manolis Kefalogiannis in February and the trip Greek Prime Minister Costas Caramanlis made to China in January where he met COSCO president Wei Jiafu, the ministry added
A ceremony to celebrate the inauguration of the direct link of Piraeus, the East Mediterranean's largest port, with the Far East and China will be carried out on board the ship, the Ministry said.
COSCO is currently evaluating a project to develop a transshipment container terminal on the Greek island of Crete.
Cosco Pacific Ltd. (1199.HK), a unit of Cosco International Holdings (0517.HK), is also eyeing an investment in Piraeus Port Authority (PPA.AT). Both companies are controlled by COSCO.
Greek media reports in March said the government is considering opening the way to strategic investors for the transit business unit of Piraeus and cited COSCO among interested parties.
Greek Finance Minister George Alogoskoufis has previously said that further privatization of Piraeus Port Authority will take place in 2007.
Source: http://sg.biz.yahoo.com/, Friday April 7, 8:19 PM


UPDATE 1-Greece's National Bank climbs after Turkish deal
---By George Georgiopoulos
ATHENS, April 4 (Reuters) - National Bank of Greece shares rose almost 4 percent on Tuesday after Greece's largest lender clinched the biggest ever Greek-Turkish deal, buying a mid-sized bank and gaining a foothold in its eastern neighbour.
National Bank (NBGr.AT: Quote, Profile, Research) agreed on Monday to pay 2.3 billion euros ($2.8 billion) for a 46 percent stake in Finansbank (FINBN.IS: Quote, Profile, Research), with plans to increase its stake in future.
The Greek lender's plan to tap the market for 3.0 billion euros via a rights issue to finance the acquisition weighed on the shares at the open, but the market's overall thumbs up on the deal sent the stock into positive territory soon after.
"Although a pricey acquisition, it would be EPS (earnings per share) enhancing from day one, even after a capital increase of 3.0 billion euros -- equivalent to 23 percent of NBG's market cap," said analyst Joanna Telioudi at HSBC Pantelakis Securities.
National will pay 17.8 times the Turkish lender's 2005 earnings, or 3.6 times its consolidated 2005 book value. The price-to-earnings (P/E) ratio is in line with National's 2005 earnings multiple of 18.
Analysts said the deal would add value to National Bank shareholders in the longer term, pointing to the prospects of Turkey's fast-growing economy, its potential European Union accession and its underbanked market.
"We should not neglect the fact that NBG gains access to a huge, still developing market, maintaining its healthy capital ratios that allow it to further continue its expansion plans," said Marfin Analysis.
National Bank shares, up some 7.8 percent year to date, were up nearly 4 percent at 40.34 euros by 1235 GMT, giving the bank a market value of 13.06 billion euros.
TURKISH FORAY
National Bank Chief Executive Takis Arapoglou told analysts during a conference call he was optimistic on the deal. "It is fully in line with our strategic vision to enhance our footprint in the area," he said. National is also present in Romania, Serbia, Bulgaria and Albania.
Arapoglou said National would embark on an investor roadshow from April 5 to promote the deal to investors. "As of tomorrow we will start a road show in London and New York and possibly Boston and Frankfurt."
National's Chief Financial Officer Anthimos Thomopoulos told analysts NBG would support Finansbank's growth in the local and regional market, expecting to see a boost from NBG's experience in mortgage lending in a market which has just started to grow rapidly.
Finansbank executives pointed to potential entrepreneurial benefits for the combined group's customers in the fields of tourism, shipping and industry. "The entrepreneurs in these two countries will become much closer," said a Finansbank executive.
A combined business plan was likely to be made public later this year, probably after July.
National plans to raise 3 billion euros to fund the acquisition, assuming a full take out of remaining shareholders.
It may use excess capital, expected to amount to 500-600 million euros, to fund expansion, "but also accommodate another acquisition in the region," CFO Thomopoulos said. Excess capital may also be returned to shareholders.
Asked about the future of Finansbank's foreign operations, its Chairman Husnu Ozyegin said: "Obviously, because of this transaction, we have to rebrand ourselves in Holland, Switzerland as well as Russia and Romania."
Ozyegin will continue to be acting chairman and the bank will have the same senior management. Finansbank's new board will have five members appointed by NBG and two from Finansbank, one being Ozyegin.
(Additional reporting by Philip Pangalos)
Source: http://today.reuters.com, Tuesday 4 April 2006, 8:42am EST


Fortis Bank Grows in Greece
---Last week Fortis Bank moved location to establish a full-scale branch in Greece, rather than the representative office they had previously been using. The sea view is gone as is the address on Akti Miaouli, but in the place of this come spacious, modern offices on the same boulevard as Tsakos and Angelicoussis, to name but a few, and conveniently located opposite the Athens Intercontinetal and Ledra Marriott hotels.
At a reception to commemorate the opening of the new branch in Greece, Fortis favourites were out in force. The Executive Board of the bank was represented by Filip Dierckx; new global head of shipping Harris Antoniou was at hand; and man of the moment and senior man in Greece, George Arcadis made the most of a very enjoyable evening in the presence of Petros Doukas, deputy minister of Greek Economy.
In his speech Arcadis noted that the Fortis Greek shipping portfolio is around $600 million but that the bank here had also been very active in the fields of advisory services and, in particular, mergers and acquisitions, public and private equity and capital markets.
While the focus will still be on shipping business, the new branch brings new product opportunities and emphasis will now also be put on corporate finance (non-shipping) as well as introducing leasing products and global cash management. The Greek branch will also support and develop services already offered abroad including treasury products which will service the corporate clientele and will function in direct cooperation with the Fortis central treasury in Brussels from which the Greek branch will get technical expertise and specialization.
We at Marine Money have for many years had a close relationship with Fortis Bank, and we were delighted to see that Fortis was a leader in 2004 and 2005 by being actively involved in seven IPOs and follow-ons and two high yield issues. For this and for expanding their presence in the Greek market we congratulate the team.
Source: Freshly Minted online on www.marinemoney.com, 7 April 2006


Weber and Compass forge Greek link
---New brokerage to offer sale and purchase and tanker chartering service, write Nigel Lowry and Rajesh Joshi- Friday April 07 2006
TWO leading US shipbroking houses, Charles R Weber Co and Compass Maritime Services, have joined forces to launch a new shipbrokerage in Greece.
Piraeus-based WeberCompass (Hellas) Ltd, a 50:50 joint venture, has opened its doors for sales and purchase and related business, and preparations are underway to offer tanker chartering services.
The move appears partly a response to the tide of business being done between Athens and New York as Greek shipowners continue to plot public share issues. But also heralds a further stage in the development of a tanker broking community in the Greek market.
There are now at least a dozen Greek linked shipping companies publicly trading in the US.
Compass Maritime, based in Fort Lee, New Jersey, hopes to capitalise on its strong existing relationships with Wall Street as its Greek venture opens for business.
Compass recently added Basil Karatzas to its New Jersey team as vice president for projects and finance. His fluency in Greek and Spanish has already helped the firm in servicing its international clientele.
Tom Protonotarios, formerly a broker with Piraeus firm Golden Destiny, has been hired by WeberCompass, bringing the S&P department to two initially.
On the tanker side, Mr Mitropoulos said that the firm is currently recruiting a chartering team.
Mr Mavroleon, managing director of 66-year-old, Connecticut-based Charles R Weber, is likely to travel more frequently from the US to Greece as a result.
Compass Maritime is one of the few dedicated S&P brokerages in the US, formed in 2000 as an employee-owned spin-off of AL Burbank Shipbrokers.
Source: www.lloydslist.com,


Diamantides puts tanker fleet on the market for $1bn
---Diamantis Diamantides has reportedly put his 12-stong tanker fleet on the market for $1bn. Under the Marmaras banner, Diamantides was a traditional dry ship operator before being converted to tankers in 2000 when he set about building a fleet.
There has been no comment from the Piraeus-based owner, but brokers in Piraeus, London and the US are talking about the sale. Indeed, analysts have always said the move by Diamantides into tankers was a speculative one and he has retained a big bulk carrier fleet with 34 ships trading and another 14 under construction. They range from handysize up to capesize.
Now on offer are six aframax tankers, built in 2004 and 2005, a just delivered suezmax and five suezmaxes scheduled for delivery this year and next. All are constructed in Hyundai Samho shipyard in South Korea.
Cash-rich Peter Georgiopoulos of General Maritime (GenMar) has been in talks, but not on a serious level, according to the US-listed company, which is said to consider the asking price far too high. Brokers say a price tag closer to $875m/$900m would probably arouse greater interest. GenMar has built up a massive warchest over the past year reducing its fleet from 43 units to just 18 ships. Georgiopoulos is keen to invest and is known to be looking at market sectors rather than ships at present. He has admitted an interest in the products tanker sector and Marmaras would not fit in if he decides to take the products road.
The size of the fleet and the investment will not frighten him, for big deals are Georgiopoulos' forte. He has made them as both a buyer and a seller. The Portugese owner Soponata cost him $243m in 2004 and Theodore Angelopoulos' Metrostar tanker fleet cost $525m in 2003. Likewise he has sold in bulk, most recently in January when nine double-hull aframax and combis went to John Fredriksen for $252m. In October 2005, 10 tankers went to Tanker Pacific for just under $300m.
Source: www.newsfront.gr, 7 April 2006, 7 April 2006 Vol. 7 / No. 13


An Oil Tanking Firm To Watch
---John Buckingham is the chief portfolio manager of the California-based Al Frank Fund (VALUX), with about $305 million under management. Tsakos is a worldwide oil-shipping company based in Athens. Mr. Buckingham spoke to David Dalley of The New York Sun about why he believes the company's stock could increase by 90% over the next three to five years.
COMPANY: Tsakos Energy
TICKER: TNP (NYSE)
PRICE: $39.50 (as of 4 p.m. yesterday)
52-WEEK RANGE: $31.65-$46.10
MARKET CAPITALIZATION: $759.66M
Why do you like the stock?
We like the entire tanker sector right now, primarily because valuations are so attractive. That's because this is a business that has been notoriously cyclical. Pricing is all over the map in terms of shipping. Much has to do with supply and demand for oil, more so than the actual price of oil.There needs to be enough demand for oil to handle all of their shipping capacity. It doesn't matter what the actual price is, as such.
We believe and most of the research shows that worldwide oil demand is expected to continue to grow, especially with the growing demand by the Asian tigers. Most people expect demand to remain strong for the next couple years at least.
Strong demand has caused many tanker operators to want to buy more ships, which they've been doing. Capacity has grown, and this has concerned investors. They're worried that pricing will collapse, but we don't think that'll happen.
Source: http://www.nysun.com, By DAVID DALLEY, April 4, 2006


Aries Maritime Closes on $360 Million Fully Revolving Credit Facility
---ATHENS, Greece, April 4 /PRNewswire-FirstCall/ -- Aries Maritime Transport Limited (Nasdaq: RAMS - News), today announced that it has closed on a $360 million fully revolving credit facility, which has a term of five years. The Bank of Scotland and Nordea Bank Finland acted as the joint lead arrangers. Nordea Bank Finland acted as the book manager, while the Bank of Scotland acted as the facility agent. Additionally, the Bank of Scotland and Nordea Bank Finland, who had fully underwritten the new facility, arranged a syndicate of other major ship finance banks.
Aries plans to use the proceeds of the new facility to replace its current $140 million term loan facility and $150 million revolving credit facility. Following the repayment of the Company's current term and revolving credit facility, Aries will have an undrawn commitment of $75 million.
Mons S. Bolin, President and Chief Executive Officer, commented, "We are pleased that the facility was substantially oversubscribed and are proud of our ongoing success at garnering support from leading banks. The credit facility provides Aries with a $75 million undrawn commitment to seek additional opportunities to acquire modern tonnage as we did in 2005. In pursuing future growth, we will do so with a focus on meeting well-defined acquisition criteria that enables the Company to further enhance our position in the industry, increase our long-term earnings potential and continue to provide shareholders with sizeable dividends."
Richard J.H. Coxall, Chief Financial Officer, added, "The new $360 million facility is both flexible and competitively priced. The facility is fully revolving for five years and provides broad criteria for growth with few restrictions. In terms of the pricing of the facility, at the time we draw it down we expect to pay one eighth of a percentage point less in margin than we are currently paying."
Source: Aries Maritime Transport Limited, Tuesday April 4, 2006


Greeks in GO Carriers raid
Globus' chief executive is George Karageorgiou, well known for his long association with Stelios Haji-Ioannou at Stelmar Shipping and later his Easy Group.
Stelios Hajiannou's former right hand man George Karageorgiouis is spearheading the takeover bid. Globus itself is owned by George Fidakis, the chairman of Athens-listed FG Europe and backer of Eolos Shipmanagement.
Globus said today its proposal envisaged the imposition of a new board at GO Carriers followed by an independent valuation of its fleet. A shareholder vote would then be held within 6 weeks to decide on the future of the company.
It claims a 'major' GO Carriers shareholder has already tabled a motion for an extraordinary general meeting to consider the proposal.
In a statement confirming its proposal, Globus said the approach did not involve any form of 'offer' for the company.
Meanwhile Fidakis hit the headlines recently when his Eolos Shipmanagement sold its entire bulker fleet to the Restis group.
Restis was reported to have paid around $130m for the 76,600-dwt Georgios F (built 2005), 73,700-dwt Nadia F (built 1997), 69,200-dwt Thanos F (built 1993) and 52,000-dwt Vassiliki F (built 2004).
Eolos was formed less than two years ago. It is understood to have pursued a listing in the US last year for Globus Shipping Inc but abandoned the plan after US investors soured on shipping.
Source: www.tradewinds.no, By Liz Shuker in London, published: 14:04 GMT, 07 April 2006 | last updated: 14:23 GMT, 07 April 2006


Omega Navigation Enterprises Announces Pricing of Initial Public Offering
---PIREAUS, GREECE--(MARKET WIRE)--Apr 7, 2006 -- Omega Navigation Enterprises, Inc. (NasdaqNM:ONAV - News) announced today that its initial public offering of 12,000,000 shares of its Class A Common Stock has been priced at $17.00 per share.
The company has granted the underwriters a 30-day option to purchase up to an additional 1,800,000 shares of Class A Common Stock to cover over-allotments, if any.
Omega Navigation intends to use the net proceeds from the sale of its shares primarily to fund a portion of the purchase price of 6 double hull product tankers with expected delivery between May 2006 and July 2006.
The Class A Common Stock will be quoted on the NASDAQ National Market in the United States under the symbol "ONAV" and on the Singapore Exchange Securities Trading Limited. It is expected to begin trading today in the U.S. and Monday in Singapore.
Jefferies & Company, Inc. acted as Global Coordinator of the Global Offering. Jefferies & Company, Inc. and J.P. Morgan Securities, Inc. acted as Joint Bookrunners of U.S. Offering. UOB Asia Limited is the Singapore underwriter and sponsor to the secondary listing in Singapore.
Detailed information about the company and the offering are contained in the company's prospectus for the offering. A copy of the final prospectus related to this offering may be obtained from: Jefferies & Company, Inc. Tel. (212) 284-2342 and J.P. Morgan Securities, Inc., Tel.(718) 242-8003
A registration statement relating to this offering was filed with and declared effective by the Securities and Exchange Commission on April 6, 2006. The offering is being made solely by means of a prospectus. This press release shall not constitute an offer to sell or the solicitation of an offer to buy, nor shall there be any sale of these securities in any state or jurisdiction in which such offer, solicitation or sale would be unlawful prior to registration or qualification under the securities laws of any such state or jurisdiction.
About Omega Navigation Enterprises, Inc.
Omega Navigation Enterprises, Inc. is a Marshall Islands corporation that provides marine transportation services to its customers, with principal executive offices in Piraeus, Greece.
Company Contact: Gregory A. McGrath Chief Financial Officer Omega Navigation Enterprises, Inc. PO Box 272 Convent Station, NJ 07961 Tel. (551) 580-0532 E-mail: gregory_mcgrath_50@hotmail.com http://www.omeganavigation.com
Source: Press Release Omega Navigation,Friday April 7, 2:01 pm ET


Star Maritime rings opening bell at AMEX
Source: http://www.starmaritimecorp.com/press_releases.html


Niarchos Foundation Gets Hellenic Societies' Award
---On the occasion of the 185th anniversary of Greek independence from the Ottoman Empire, the Federation of Hellenic Societies of Greater New York honored the Stavros S. Niarchos Foundation, an international philanthropic organization, with its Liberty Award. The award was conferred on Saturday, April 1 at the New York Hilton Hotel in Manhattan, prior to the Greek Independence Day parade on Fifth Avenue April 2.
"We congratulate the Stavros S. Niarchos Foundation for their philanthropic contributions especially to Hellenic ideals, language, culture and the Greek Orthodox faith," Nick Diamantidis, Federation president, said.
Parade Chairman Dino Rallis added, "We greatly honor the Niarchos Foundation for its worldwide philanthropic giving and Mr. Andreas Dracopoulos, one of the members of the Board of Directors, for accepting the award on behalf of the Foundation."
The Stavros S. Niarchos Foundation, an international philanthropic organization, supports charitable activities in four primary areas: arts and culture, education, health and medicine, and social welfare. The foundation makes grants to nonprofit organizations throughout the world. Since its inception in 1996, the Stavros S. Niarchos Foundation has provided total grant commitments of more than $241,000,000 to more than 1,100 nonprofit organizations. For more information, visit www.stavrosniarchosfoundation. org.
This year's Greek Independence Day parade theme honored Greeks who immigrated to America and the success of following generations. The parade consisted of over 50 floats the largest number ever. Community groups, churches, and Greeks from New York City and the tri-state area marched in what was the largest display of Hellenic heritage celebrations in years. Civic leaders Tasos Manessis, Philip Christopher and Georgia Kaloidis were parade co-chairpersons. Honored guests included the Evzones (the elite Greek Presidential Guard), members of the U.S. Merchant Marine Color Guard, members of the Greek Army Philharmonic Band, Greek and U.S. government officials including Consul General of Greece in New York Catherine Boura and Consul General of the Republic of Cyprus in New York Martha Mavromatis, among others.
Organizers of the annual Greek Independence Day parade, the Federation of Hellenic Societies of Greater New York is a not-for-profit organization comprised of nearly 200 cultural and civic associations and regional and professional organizations. The Federation's mission is to preserve and promote Hellenic culture and heritage throughout the five boroughs of New York.
After 400 years of rule by the Ottoman Empire, Greece declared its independence on March 25, 1821. The Greek Independence Day parade is held on the closest Sunday to March 25 for a dual celebration integrally connected with the Christian Feast of the Annunciation. The annual commemoration brings together thousands of Greek-American civic, religious and political organizations, representatives of the Greek Orthodox Church, American and Greek government officials along Fifth Avenue.
www.stavrosniarchosfoundation.org
Source: http://www.qgazette.com, 5 April 2006