Greek Shipping News Cuts
Week 15 - 2006

 

Embiricos, Foschi awarded

Source: www.fairplay.co.uk, 11 Apr 2006


Anna Kountouriotou appointed MD of West of England (Hellas) Limited
Source: Notice to Members No. 2 2006/2007, April 2006


Greek niche Market specialists book newbuildings
---Two of Greece's expanding band of market specialists have ordered new ships. The Gregory Callimanopulos-controlled Toisa Limited has taken its investment in vessels to service the offshore industry to $700m, ordering a diving support vessel from Merwede Shipyard in the Netherlands, while the Vafias Group has added two newbuilding contracts to its rapidly expanding fleet of niche market gas carriers.
The Toisa vessel will be managed by the group's UK subsidiary, Sealion Shipping, when delivered in March 2008. No price tag has been attached but brokers estimate it could cost $80m.
The latest order will be equipped with cranes and a helideck and will be able to reach speeds of13.5 knots. It will operate worldwide. At 132mtrs this DP3-type is an advanced version of the 8,650dwt Toisa Proteus, also built in the Netherlands and commissioned in 2002.
Toisa said the average age of ships in the existing saturation diving market is over 20 years and its DP3 ship meets "the higher and more demanding standards in safety, dynamic positioning operations, saturation diving and use of environmentally sensitive vessels". Able to sleep up to 199 persons it "meets the need for subsea construction vessels to accommodate large number of contractors".
Nicos Vafias-controlled Brave Maritime is behind a $31m order for two 3,500cumtr LPG carriers at the Kanrei shipyard in Japan for delivery in April and June 2009. The same yard is building a pair of 4,900dwt, 3,500cumtr LPG carrier for Brave to deliver mid 2008. They were ordered at $18.5m each. The four ships are expected to join the group's Nasdaq-listed StealthGas which has created a 24-strong LPG fleet since last October.
Source: www.newsfront.gr 14 April 2006 Vol. 7 / No. 14


Greek-owned fleet is growing at a lower rate, global share falling
---The Greek-owned merchant fleet is showing a small decline in its share of the global fleet this year but is still growing in absolute figures and maintains its No.1 position in the world, says the latest report by the Greek Shipping Cooperation Committee, the London-based association involved with issues concerning Greek-owned ships.
A total of 3,397 vessels are controlled by Greek interests, including 364 ships under construction. This translates into a shipping capacity of 190 million deadweight tons (dwt) and corresponds to 16.1 percent of the global fleet.
The increase in ship numbers from the previous year comes to 1.76 percent, or 59 ships. More importantly its capacity has grown by 4.11 percent year-on-year, or 7.5 million dwt.
In March 2005 Greeks owned 3,338 ships with a capacity of 182.5 million dwt, which then amounted to 16.5 percent of the global fleet, down from 18 percent in 2004.
Therefore, despite the fact that the Greek-controlled fleet is still growing, its rate has declined from previous years and according to the committee this may continue.
The greatest rise in Greek ship registration was realized by Liberia and the Marshall Islands, adding 92 ships each, while the Bahamas added 43 ships. The greatest decline was recorded by Cyprus (54 ships) and Malta (45 ships).
In the Greek-owned fleet, the number of oil tankers increased by 34 or 3 million dwt to 536 vessels with a capacity of 69.9 million dwt. Chemical and product tankers have also increased, numbering 462 with a capacity of 15 million dwt, posting a rise of 44 ships and 1.1 million dwt. A smaller rise, by 13 ships, was recorded in dry-bulkers. However the 1,397 dry-bulkers in total have increased their shipping capacity by 2.7 million dwt to 87.3 million dwt thanks to the larger vessels added to the fleet.
Another positive development concerns the drop in the age of the Greek-owned fleet, as the average ship age is now at 15.3 years from 15.9 years 12 months ago and 20.3 years in 2000. The average age of the global fleet stands at 14.9 years. This shows that the process of renewing the fleet continues, even though several shipowners are reluctant to withdraw their older vessels since in some cases they achieve high chartering rates due to high demand.
The categorization of the 364 vessels under construction makes interesting reading: Tankers take the biggest share, numbering 183. They include 121 chemical and other products tankers and 62 oil tankers. There are 92 dry-bulkers under construction and 29 ships to carry liquefied gas of any kind, which serves to prove that a number of shipowners intend to expand to more specialized markets with great scope for growth.
Source: http://www.ekathimerini.com, 15 April 2006


Tide of funding ebbs in Greece
---Banks are more cautious about increasing their exposure in today's booming market.
Banks continue to shower money on the Greek shipping industry, with more than $36bn being lent in 2005, up 11.62% on the previous year.
But Athens-based researcher Petrofin found the overall increase greatly reduced from the 26.6% jump between 2003 and 2004, concluding that banks are becoming more cautious about increasing their exposure at today's high vessel values relative to earnings.
The number of banks servicing the Greek industry also decreased from 50 in 2004 to 40 in 2005 but Petrofin notes this is primarily because of mergers and some withdrawals from the Greek market by banks without a core emphasis on lending to shipping.
Royal Bank of Scotland (RBS) continues to tower above other banks in its commitment to the Greeks with a huge portfolio of $8.1bn roughly $3bn of which is in committed but undrawn funds an increase of 32.85% on the previous year's figure.
The shipping portfolio of the 11 international banks with a Greek presence stood at $19.54bn at the end of 2005 but, as Petrofin notes, the establishment of a presence in Greece by Deutsche Schiffsbank in 2005, meaning a change in category, brought $3.4bn into this category and led to the 40% increase over the total in 2004.
Deutsche Schiffsbank's shift also contributed to the reduction of the total portfolio held by international banks without a Greek presence, which dropped to just over $10bn in 2005. The number of banks in this category decreased from 27 to 15. However, Petrofin says overall international banks not represented in Greece are showing an ever-growing interest in the Greek shipping market.
Top lender in this category was HSH Nordbank with a total portfolio of some $3.5bn, $760m of which is in committed but undrawn loans.
The number of Greek banks involved in shipping finance remained stable at 14, with a small increase of 2.28% in their portfolio to $6.5bn. Alpha Bank, with a total portfolio of $1.5bn, snatched the pole position from traditional leader in the Greek bank category National Bank of Greece (NBG), which slipped to second place with a portfolio of $1.1bn.
The top 10 banks continued to hold the lion's share of the portfolio with 67.14%, which is similar to their position in 2004.
The research also examined the activities of the banks as lead managers of syndicated loans or club deals. Citibank was by far the most active in this area, with loans controlled totalling $2.2bn, although its own loan portfolio stood at something over $1bn.
Aegean Baltic Bank manages loans totalling $1.2bn but its own portfolio is just $107m.
The total of loans controlled by the lead manager banks was $7.24bn, up 40.3% on 2004, Petrofin says. It saw this as indicative of the banks' wishes to share risk.
For the first time since it began producing its annual bank research five years ago, Petrofin examined the facilities provided by banks to their clients in terms of hedging derivatives, interest swaps and other derivative products.
However, the researcher admits the response from banks is mixed and in a number of cases information is not available.
Petrofin says banks, despite high vessel values, are keen to lend to liquid clients seeking finance for young tonnage, relying where possible on front-loaded repayment schedules.
However, some say they believe the rate of growth may slow down even further in the next couple of years.
By Gillian Whittaker, Athens, published: 13 April 2006
Source: www.tradewinds.no


FreeSeas Makes Its Debut in New York
---New York - NEW YORK -- FreeSeas , a provider of sea borne transportation services for dry bulk commodities through the ownership and operation of dry bulk vessels, completed an action packed two-week period in New York City.
On Friday, March 17, 2006 the company held its Quarterly Board Meeting in New York City approving among other topics the fourth quarter and full year 2005 results and accounts. On the same day, the company's management rang the Closing Bell at NASDAQ, which was featured on the home page of NASDAQ's websites and broadcasted by major financial channels such as Bloomberg and CNBC thereby augmenting the company's visibility among the US investment community.
On the evening of the same day, FreeSeas held a dinner at the Thalassa Restaurant in Lower Manhattan in New York City to celebrate its successful transition into a public company and its listing on NASDAQ. Well over 100 people attended the dinner, which brought together prominent investment and commercial bankers, analysts, lawyers, shipbrokers, and senior members of the business and shipping communities in New York City.
On Tuesday, March 21, 2005 after the close of the market, FreeSeas released its fourth quarter and full year 2005 financial and operational results, the first such results as a public company. FreeSeas was listed on NASDAQ on December 16, 2005 after consummating its merger with Trinity Partners Acquisition Company.
The next day, on Wednesday March 22, 2005 at 10:00 am EST, the company's management held its first conference call presenting the results to the financial community and replying to the questions of several investors who attended the call. Investor questions focused on the company's differentiation from its peers, its strategy and prospects and how it plans to take advantage of its public entity status to capture growth opportunities that may arise in the shipping markets in 2006.
The management of FreeSeas was also active in investor relations meetings during this two-week period with shareholders, investors, analysts and bankers to update them on the company's developments and prospects.
On Wednesday, March 22, 2005, the management of FreeSeas took active part in the proceedings of the Annual Conference held by the Connecticut Maritime Association and was a sponsor of this year's event as well as hosting a table at the Annual Commodore Gala Dinner.
On January 31, 2006, George D. Gourdomichalis, Chairman and President of FreeSeas participated in a global conference call on the dry bulk sector along with the CEOs of DryShips, Excel Maritime and Quintana Maritime to discuss the developments, prospects and outlook of the dry bulk sector. The discussion was moderated by Charlotte Crosswell, the head of NASDAQ International and Isabella Schindrich, Director for Western Europe NASDAQ International. The event was hugely successful as it drew close to 600 investors from all over the world. Topics discussed during the forum included the importance of dry bulk shipping, market developments, supply and the demand side, including the current valuation of the industry.
FreeSeas: A Dynamic New Presence Among Listed Dry Bulk Companies
Freeseas, a Marshal Islands corporation, headquarted in Piraeus, Greece is engaged in the transportation of dry bulk cargoes. Through wholly owned subsidiaries, FreeSeas owns and operates three handy dry bulk carriers, the M/V "Free Destiny," the M/V "Free Envoy" and the M/V "Free Fighter" and is committed to modernize and expand its fleet through timely acquisitions while continuing its focus on the Handysize segment.
On December 15, 2005, FreeSeas announced the completion of its merger with Trinity Partners Acquisition Company. In accordance with the terms of the merger, FreeSeas was the surviving corporation. Trinity securities were delisted and converted into securities of FreeSeas and on December 16, 2005, FreeSeas commenced trading on the NASDAQ Capital Market under the trading symbols, FREE, FREEZ, and FREEEW respectively.
Ion G. Varouxakis, Chief Executive Officer and Secretary of FreeSeas commented: "The completion of our merger with Trinity and our becoming a publicly listed company has been a turning point for our company. Our objective is to maximize shareholder value by growing our company and taking full advantage of market opportunities. We believe that our timing of becoming a public company was excellent and positions us for further growth at the proper time."
Stathis D. Gourdomicalis, Chief Financial Officer and Treasurer, added, "Two thirds of the world's goods are transported by sea and close to forty percent of these goods are dry bulk commodities. Strong demand for raw materials from developing nations such as China and India create sustainable demand for shipping. We believe that our status as a public company will enhance our ability to grow further. We are happy to be joining other shipping companies on NASDAQ and we are committed to high standards of corporate governance, financial disclosure and investor relations."
FreeSeas Strategy
"Focus, stability and growth" are the cornerstones of our strategy, comments George D. Gourdomichalis, Chairman and President. "We believe that our strategy of focusing on the Handysize segment, by expanding and renewing our fleet, will result in strengthening our balance sheet, solidifying our earnings and serving as the locomotive of our growth. As this is year evolves, we see opportunities to acquire competitively priced vessels with solid earnings potential." He continues, "The smaller size of the current fleet and the timing of our listing are two significant advantages. Compared to the larger companies, FreeSeas can achieve a much higher growth rate through fleet expansion. Furthermore, given the current market status, we believe we will have the opportunity to acquire second hand vessels at lower prices, thereby further enhancing the return potential."
FreeSeas intends to grow its fleet through timely and selective acquisitions of second hand drybulk carriers. The company intends to maintain its focus on the Handysize segment of the dry bulk sector, as it believes that it presents the best possible risk reward return compared to other segments such as Handymax, Supramax, Panamax and Capesize.
The management of FreeSeas believes the Handysize segment has several advantages such as reduced volatility in charter rates, a smaller new building order book (the order book represents approximately 6% of the existing fleet as compared to 21% for the Handymax/Supramax sector, 21% for the Panamax sector and 27% for the Capesize sector), an over aged fleet (approximately 27% of the existing Handysize fleet is over 25 years of age, in contrast to 1.3% for the Capesize, 3.9% for the Panamax and 5% for the Handymax), increased operating flexibility due to the self loading and self discharging capabilities of the Handysize vessels, the ability to access more ports, to carry a more diverse range of cargoes and a broader customer base.
As FreeSeas expands its fleet, it will actively and strategically seek to employ its fleet between spot charters and fixed time charters, thereby enhancing the stability and predictability of earnings. A spot charter is for a particular vessel to transport cargo between specific loading ports and discharging ports in the immediate future. In a time charter the owner leases their vessel and crew to the charterer for repeated voyages over a longer period, which could exceed one year.
Financial Results
For the full year ended December 31, 2005, FreeSeas reported Operating Revenues of $10.3 million and net income of $0.1 million, or $ 0.01 per share based on 6,282,600 shares outstanding at the end of the period. Adjusted EBITDA for the full year ended December 31, 2005 was $5.3 million.
An average of 2.5 vessels were owned and operated during the full year 2005. The M/V Free Destiny was employed on period charter for the first three quarters and the M/V Free Envoy, was employed on period charters for the full year. The M/V Free Fighter, which was acquired by FreeSeas on June 15, 2005, was employed in the spot market from its delivery to the Company onwards.
The results of 2005 were affected by the increased start-up operating costs of the newly acquired M/V Free Fighter, the dry docking and special survey costs and related off-hire time of M/V Free Destiny and the costs of taking the company public.
Experienced and Respected Management Team
George D. Gourdomichalis, Chairman and President, Ion G. Varouxakis, Chief Executive Officer and Secretary and Stathis D. Gourdomichalis, Chief Financial Officer and Treasurer have spent their entire careers in the shipping industry and have extensive experience in all aspects of the industry, including the acquisition, sale, operation, maintenance and management of vessels. Over the past 15 years, they have purchased and sold over 20 vessels. They also come from established shipping families with long shipping traditions -- spanning over a number of generations -- and impeccable business credentials.
For more information: www.freeseas.gr
Source: http://newyork.dbusinessnews.com, Posted on: Thursday, April 13, 2006 07:04 AM


Globus offers cash injection for GO Carriers
The Greek-led company, which floated on AIM last year, at present operates two panamax bulk carriers and one handymax.
Globus, controlled by George Feidakis who chairs the Athens-listed FG Europe electronics and household electrical goods group, was mentioned last year as a possible candidate for a stock listing in the US, but this never transpired.
Recently, sister company Eolos Shipmanagement sold its fleet of four bulkers, three panamaxes and a handymax to the Restis Group for an estimated $130m.
Source: www.lloydslist.com


Global Oceanic Carriers Limited: Notice of EGM
---LONDON, UNITED KINGDOM--(CCNMatthews - April 10, 2006) - The Directors of Global Oceanic Carriers Limited ("GO Carriers" or "the Company")(AIM:GOC), the Greek-based drybulk shipping company, today announce that a valid requisition by a shareholder was served on the Company on 24 March 2006 requiring the Board to call an Extraordinary General Meeting (EGM) of the Company before 24 May 2006.
The EGM requisition requires clarification regarding strategic decisions to be made by the shareholders on management and the alternative approaches made to the Company as advised in the announcement released by the Company on 6 April 2006.
The Directors have noted an announcement released by Globus Shipping Inc. on Friday 7 April 2006 in which they undertook to inform the market of the EGM and outline their proposed strategy of this previously unannounced meeting.
As previously announced, the Directors have received a number of approaches by interested parties. The Directors are assessing these options, the most attractive of which will be presented to shareholders in documents relating to the EGM to be dispatched to all shareholders in due course.
A notice for the EGM setting out the objects of the meeting will be served on all Shareholders in accordance with the Company's constitutional documents. The meeting will be held on 19 May 2006 in Jersey at a venue that will be notified in the notice.
Source: http://www.ccnmatthews.com, APRIL 10, 2006 - 06:42 ET


DryShips Inc. Reports Completion of New Credit Facility
---April 11, 2006 ATHENS, Greece, - DryShips Inc. (Nasdaq: DRYS), announced today that it has finalized its new credit facility with HSH and Bank of Scotland
Drawdown of the first part of the new credit facility was completed on April 5, 2006 and an amount of $526.5 million was drawn down to repay existing indebtedness and for general corporate purposes.
Furthermore, the Company reports that delivery of m.v. "Hille Oldendorff" a 2005 built, 55,566 deadweight ton, or dwt, handymax drybulk carrier, is scheduled to take place during April. This will expand DryShips fleet to a total of 28 vessels.
About DryShips Inc.
DryShips Inc. owns and operates through its wholly owned subsidiaries a fleet of drybulk carriers that operate worldwide. As of the date of this announcement, DryShips owns a fleet of 27 drybulk carriers consisting of 4 Capesize, 21 Panamax and 2 Handymax vessels, with a combined carrying capacity of approximately 2.3 million deadweight tones. DryShips, which maintains its executive offices in Greece, is the second largest Panamax operator in the world.
DryShips Inc.'s common stock is listed on the NASDAQ National Market where it trades under the symbol "DRYS".
Source: http://www.dryships.com/ir.cfm


Turkey-Greece: 9th Business Conference kicks off
---11:20 - 14 April 2006 - The 9th Greek-Turkish Business Conference started in Istanbul, focusing on issues such as new investment laws inboth countries, avoiding double taxation, real estate development andlegislation in Turkey.Panagiotis Koutsikos, Chairman of the Greek-Turkish Business Council, and his Turkish counterpart Selim Egeli, inaugurated the conference, which featuredspeakers active in the Greek and Turkish business community.
Speaking of the recently announced buing of a stake of Turkey's Finansbank by National Bank of Greece, Egeli said that "a dream has come true.
"He also noted that the volume of transactions between the two countries hasreached $2 billion.On his part, Koutsikos said that commercial developments have an importantimpact on political relations between the two countries, noting that the volumeof commercial transactions between Greece and Turkey has increased 10-fold from $200 million in 1999 to $2.1 billion in 2005.
He added that Greece's biggest construction company is working with Turkey'sENKA on projects abroad. As for the tourism sector, Koutsikos said that while 100,000 Greek tourists hadvisited Turkey in 2004 the corresponding figure for 2005 stood at 585,000.Finally, Koutsikos noted that Turkey ranked seventh as a recipient of Greekexports, adding that while the figures are satisfactory there is still greatpotential. "We could reach $4.5 - $5 billion [in commercial transactions]," he said.
''The earthquakes in Turkey and Greece have speeded up the rapprochement between two countries. As of April, 2006, direct flights from Izmir to Greek islands will begin,'' said chairman of the Greek-Turkish Chamber of Commerce Panagiotis Koutsikos today.
Koutsikos, visited the Bodrum Chamber of Commerce on Friday.
Aside from the beginning of direct flights from Izmir to Greek islands, Turkish-Greek relations would be boosted by the opening of a Turkish-Greek bank in June, 2006.
''The bank already has a capital of 110 million Euro. A total of 26 branches will be inaugurated in Turkey and Greece (13 branches in each country). The first three branches in Turkey will be opened in Izmir. We wish to develop commercial ties with Turkey in all areas, including tourism. Greece buys many products from Turkey,'' noted Koutsikos.
Meanwhile, chairman of the Bodrum Chamber of Commerce & Industry Mahmut Serdar Kocadon has indicated that the easiest and shortest way leading to a lasting peace is to develop commercial relations.
''Greek businessmen can help their Turkish counterparts in marketing Turkish products in the European Union while the Turkish business community can assist Greek businessmen in selling Greek products to Turkish republics of Central Asia,'' stressed Kocadon.
Source: www.reporter.gr


Greece's Hellenic Petroleum in talks for joint bid for Serbia's NIS
---ATHENS (AFX) - Refiner Hellenic Petroleum is in talks with Hungary's MOL and Austria's OMV for a joint-bid in the privatization of Serbian refiner NIS, according to reports in Greek daily newspapers.
The tender is expected in September, incorporating the full sale or part of the Serbian refinery, depending on what the privatization consultant Merrill Lynch proposes, brokers said.
Hellenic Petroleum already operates in the Serbian market with 15 fuel stations, and aims to increase them to 22 by the end of 2006.
NIS has 17,000 employees, 2 refineries, 10 subsidiaries and a distribution chain of 500 stations.
Hellenic Petroleum management has repeatedly said it will look into NISs privatization process as they are seeking potential opportunities to expand operations in the region.
Source: www.forbes.com, 04.11.2006, 05:20 AM , Source: Euro2day.gr NewsWire