Greek Shipping News Cuts
Week 22 - 2006

 

Plain sailing as Posidonia opener gets under way

The Posidonia exhibition opens on Monday. Exhibitors claim that a final tally of 1,581 exhibitors from 78 countries will participate in the five-day biennial event.
This year the event is at the Hellenikon Exhibition Centre on the site of the former Athens International Airport, allowing organisers to grow total exhibition space by 15%.
Source: www.lloydlist.com, Friday June 02 2006


Lim Hwee Hua to visit Greece, Brussels, Luxembourg
---SINGAPORE : Minister of State for Finance and Transport Lim Hwee Hua will visit Greece, Brussels and Luxembourg starting on Sunday.
During the week-long visit, she will meet with national and business leaders to promote Singapore's maritime services and advance the liberalisation of air services between Singapore and the European Union.
In Greece, Mrs Lim will lead the Singapore delegation at the Posidonia 2006 International Shipping Exhibition and meet senior management of major Greek maritime companies.
She will also call on her political counterparts, Minister of Mercantile Marine Manolis Kefalogiannis and Minister of Transport and Communications Michalis Liapis, to explore further opportunities for collaboration in transport and logistics.
She will also sign the recently liberalised Singapore-Greece Air Services Agreement.
In Brussels and Luxembourg, Mrs Lim will meet with key European leaders and transport ministers to discuss Singapore's interest in a full liberalisation of air services between Singapore and the EU.
She will also sign a landmark aviation agreement with the EC, to allow all European airlines to fly between any EU member state and Singapore. - CNA /ct
Source: http://www.channelnewsasia.com, By Wong Siew Ying, Channel NewsAsia, Posted: 04 June 2006 1513 hrs


Doctors to be appointed on islands and coastal shipping vessels
---Merchant Marine Minister Manolis Kefaloyiannis and Deputy Health and Social Solidarity Minister Athanassios Yiannopoulos have signed joint ministerial decisions on the appointment of doctors at health centers and regional clinics on islands and coastal regions, as well as on coastal shipping vessels to provide first stage health care services for passengers and crews.
According to a merchant marine ministry announcement, the decisions will secure, at the greatest possible degree, the protection of the health of passengers with the presence of a doctor during voyages, particularly when the time for sailing from one port to another is considerable.
The announcement also said that "the government's social sensitivity and the continuous interest of the merchant marine ministry in improving services provided for the inhabitants and tourists of our islands is being proved in practice."
Source: ATHENS, 1/6/2006 (ANA/MPA), www.ana.gr


---ANA
The Greek-owned merchant fleet is a strategic partner for the conduct of US international trade through the provision of reliable and secure maritime transportation to the benefit of American consumers, as it is the biggest fleet belonging to a NATO country and able to operate even in emergency situations.
This was the message that representatives of Greek shipowners conveyed to US officials during their recent official visit to the United States. The group was led by the president of the Greek Union of Shipowners (EEE), Nikos Efthymiou, who stressed that the Greek fleet conveys 25 percent of US imports of oil as well as of 25 percent its exports of wheat, coal and other bulk trade to their destinations. In their meetings with US administration officials and senators, Greek shipowners discussed their support for increased safety measures at ports and ships reaching the US, as long as they do not impede trade, and sufficiency in US energy from oil and natural gas.
However, Kathimerini understands that several shipowners privately expressed reservations with the Athens bourse, suggesting it is dominated by strong shifts that have recently increased as many foreign portfolios depart.
Source: http://www.ekathimerini.com, 31 May 2006


Polemis preaches transparency and dialogue
---Spiros M Polemis, the newly elected chairman of ICS and president of ISF is determined that the message shipping is an open and transparent industry be taken to the politicians and the general public. He believs this can best be achieved by encouraging "a dialogue with the regulators that has sometimes been missing".
Speaking in Washington, moments after his election, Polemis said: "We are at the heart of the largest and most powerful democracy of the world, with many well recognised institutions where issues are debated like in the agora of ancient Athens in 500 BC, the birthplace of democracy. Politicians discuss their views, argue their point and reach conclusions on how the state should be run, on behalf of the people they represent. In such an effort however, there is one very important ingredient. Politicians, law makers and others in authority should consult with those that specialise in the particular subject or topic under consideration. It is not only absolutely necessary, but in terms of acquiring expert knowledge it is more importantly democratic, and sensible, to ask the professionals for their views."
Polemis, vice chairman of the Greek Shipping Co-operation Committee (GSCC) and member of the board of the Union of Greek Shipowners, (UGS) said that politicians are well meaning in trying to find solutions that are to the benefit of the people, but they need guidance.
Polemis said: "ICS, which is an international organisation, an association of national associations of ship operators, is just such an expert in shipping issues. Consequently ICS is in the best position to advise politicians and law makers on the merits or demerits of any proposed legislation. I said before and I meant it, that politicians are well-meaning in trying to find solutions that are to the benefit of the people. However, for every specialised subject they are considering they need the help of those with specialist knowledge, so that whatever is decided will not only be the best solution to the problem, but also the solution that does not have unacceptable ramifications to other sectors or people in the industry.
"Pleasing the voters in the short term, ultimately, does no good to the people on whose behalf the politicians act, nor to the industry, nor, in the end, to the politicians themselves. Any legislation, besides in emergency situations, should have a long term view, and it has to strive for continuous and lasting improvement, since the ultimate aim is to cater to people's needs and to improve their quality of life.
Consultation, therefore, co-operation, and a free, unhindered and frank exchange of views with politicians and law makers on an ongoing basis is the wish of ICS.
"In an age of transparency there are no boundaries, and nationalities blur. At ICS there is only one common goal and unity of purpose; to achieve the best quality of service with safety as a high priority, in an efficient and independent international shipping industry.
However, to achieve what I am convinced we need to achieve, and to reach our common objectives will require a commitment from all member associations and from the Round Table of international shipping associations as a whole.
"The often maligned shipping industry is a highly professional business, very complex, but also the most fascinating without which most of the world's economies would come to a standstill. I am well aware of the highly publicised accidents, for which we as operators must always be vigilant as we seek to reduce the number of these incidents.
"One, however, should stop and think for a moment, that every single day some 50,000 ships cover 300bn tonne miles to carry goods to their destinations, 99.99% of which arrive safely and on time. This is an enviable record, which is perhaps one of the world's best kept secrets. It is a record that is the result of the expertise and professionalism of the people in our industry."
-- Filed: 2006-05-30
Source: Issue nr. 21 (2 June 2006) of Newsfront Greek Shipping Intelligence newsletter.


The imagination to change with the times is key
---The Greek shipping community needs to use its imagination and change with the times if it is to continue as a leading force in the world transport industry.
That was the message that emerged from a recent discussion on Greek shipping organised by the Greek branch of the Institute of Chartered Shipbrokers (ICS).
Leading shipowners, brokers and bankers point to changes that have already taken place in Greek shipping but also to the need to be ready for further challenges.
Dr John Coustas of Danaos Shipping says taking advantage of shipping cycles the bread and butter of Greek shipping is no longer enough.
"The game is changing," Coustas said.
Coustas, who is touted as an initial public offering (IPO) candidate in New York, says Greek owners must now gear up their imagination as the shipping landscape transforms. The capital markets and Asia have made a strong impact in shipping over the past few years, he adds.
Greek owners should not just be preoccupied with how to get the financing right to buy a ship, Costas goes on. Their outlook should also extend beyond just making sure they are reading the market cycle properly.
The industry, he adds, must take advantage of those who are looking to invest in shipping and see how to channel this investor money into the Greek sector.
Standards must be raised and Greek players must play a stronger hand in setting the agenda.
Stelios Tzitzis of broker Clarkson (Hellas) echoes Coustas's call for owners to extend their view beyond those business tools that have been used in the shipping world so far.
Tzitzis argues the shipping sector must reach horizontally into other sectors, citing logistics as one example.
In recent years, brokers have become more than just sales-and-purchase (S&P) and chartering middlemen, he says.
He suggests brokers also need to offer consulting services, econometrics and statistics tools. As the shipping world opens up into the derivatives market, brokers are also evolving into the role of fund managers, he says.
But just as shipping is beginning to look outward, other sectors are also turning their eyes to the possibilities they can see in shipping.
Freight-derivatives trading is one of the three sectors capital-market players are looking into, along with the emissions and environmental-products industries. These over-the-counter (OTC) trades are largely unregulated and seen as an area where money can be made.
Tzitzis says there is nothing to stop shipbrokers from expanding into energy and other freight-related derivatives. They are industries shipping people know about.
There are those, however, who tend to look to the past for the ingredients that contributed to the creation of the "Greek miracle".
Captain Panayiotis Tsakos says he represents the class of owner who entered the sector as seafarers. "Our generation was the lucky one," he said.
The Greek shipping sector as it is known today is not the achievement of his generation of owners, Tsakos argues, but of a 10,000-year-old tradition. He argues that the sector is now facing a big challenge in the dwindling number of young people entering the seafarer profession.
The lack of ship's officers coming into the industry represents a break in the evolutionary chain. ( For more on the Tsakos group and Captain Tsakos and his family, see pages 48 to 54. )
Adding to Tsakos's argument, Spyros Karnessis of European Navigation criticises the apparent apathy of the Greek government on an issue that affects one-third of the country's income.
"Once we lose our seamen's expertise, shipowners will be no different to bankers," he said.
Seamen go on to form part of the shipmanagement competence many Greek companies boast about in Piraeus, Coustas points out.
Antonis Mavrakakis of Mayamar Marine Enterprises, however, believes that the seafarer issue is a lost cause and that owners should instead preserve what has not been lost.
George Banos, a well-known figure on the Piraeus broking scene for over 30 years, highlights the services sector as one that will support Greek shipping at its core and well into the future.
The local broking scene, he says, began humbly before World War II on the chartering scene, dealing in small Mediterranean trades. Players like Kotzias, Moundreas and Patrikeios were established during this time. London was very remote and beyond competition.
Today, Banos argues, Greek broking has expanded in numbers of brokers and has nothing to envy of its London or Oslo counterparts. Services in Piraeus will continue to grow, he adds, as soon as owners show their support.
Dimitris Anagnostopoulos of ABN Amro Bank supports the view of Piraeus as an evolving service sector, and takes a brief look back at the past 150 years.
Two centuries ago, a stream of wealthy, London-based Greeks without a seafaring background entered the transport sector, namely the Vallianos, Drakopoulos, Stathatos, Vlassopoulos and Embiricos families. They bought ships and handed over their management to Greek captains, mainly islanders who took a profit share of 8%. Fortunes were built on both sides, Anagnostopoulos says.
By 1910, a handful of London bankers began coming to Piraeus and almost 40 years after that appeared Greece's big shipping names the likes of Livanos, Onassis, Niarchos and Lemos.
When shipping's golden Greeks were making their mark, Anagnostopoulos says 90% of the activity and decision-making happened outside the country.
Today, 80% of Greek activity happens in Piraeus. London-based companies began moving their management teams to Piraeus and banks had begun to open local offices by the 1970s. Anagnostopoulos argues that the shift happened as the Greek state adjusted its policies to attract London Greek money to its nest.
Vasilis Matzavinos of Bayerische Bank in Piraeus notes that the future is also marked by the new generation of owners taking their place in family businesses.
The new blood, he says, is introducing corporate structures, transparency and hedging tools, with an emphasis on quality. As a result, companies are better organised and no longer a one-man show.
By Yiota Gousas Athens, published: 02 June 2006
Source: www.tradewinds.no


Diana Comes Back for More
This annoucement comes just after news that Diana had also amended its existing $230 million credit facility with the Royal Bank of Scotland, priced at LIBOR + 100, to a $300 million facility with a 10-year term and priced between 75 and 85 basis points over LIBOR.
Source: www.marinemoney.com, Freshly Minted online, 1 Jun 2006


Omega Navigation Announces Delivery of Panamax Product Tanker
---PIREAUS, GREECE -- (MARKET WIRE) -- 05/31/2006 -- Omega Navigation Enterprises, Inc. (NASDAQ: ONAV), a provider of global marine transportation services (the "Company"), announced today that on May 29, 2006 it took delivery of its Panamax (LR1) double hull product tanker, the "Rudolf Schulte," to be renamed the "Omega Queen."
The "Omega Queen" is a Panamax (LR1) double hull product tanker of 74,999 deadweight ton ("dwt"), built by Hyundai Heavy Industries, South Korea in 2004. The acquisition was funded by in part from proceeds of the Company's initial public offering and debt under a senior secured credit facility provided by HSH-Nordbank AG.
The "Omega Queen" is employed under a long-term time charter to A/S Dampskibsselskabet TORM ("Torm") until May 2009 at a daily time charter hire rate of $26,500. The Company has granted Torm an option to extend the charter for 24 months at a minimum daily time charter hire rate of $28,500. The Company has selected Singapore-based Eurasia International as the vessel's technical manager. Eurasia International has managed the "Omega Queen" since its original delivery from the shipyard.
The Company has agreements to acquire five additional double hull product tankers with deliveries expected by the end of July 2006.
George Kassiotis, President and Chief Executive Officer of Omega Navigation, commented, "We are very pleased to take delivery of 'Omega Queen,' the first of six product tankers that we have agreed to acquire, which will complement our current fleet of two dry bulk carriers. In addition, with the retention of the current technical manager of our new product tanker, that vessel's oil major vetting approvals will remain in place and our opportunities for business in Asia will be enhanced. Once all deliveries are completed, we will have a young, modern and diversified fleet."
Source: Press Release,


Shrewd investments
---Greek shipowners have been quietly growing their portfolio of container ships in recent years. Robert Willmington takes a look at recent developments in the Greek-owned box fleet
Costamare, controlled by Vassilis Constantakopoulos, entered the boxship sector in the mid-1980s with second-hand tonnage of between 800teu and 2,000teu purchased from Hapag-Lloyd and United States Lines. Since then, Costamare has initiated a comprehensive newbuilding programme for ships placed on long-term timecharter to blue-chip ocean carriers such as Coscon, Hapag-Lloyd, and Maersk Line. Most recently it has taken delivery of a trio of 9,300teu giant post-Panamax vessels which have been fixed to Coscon. Two sister ships are due for delivery later this year, again for long-term charter to Coscon. Greek owners are also significant buyers of second-hand container ships, with sale and charterback deals from liner operators being particularly popular. A major player in the sale and charterback sector is Kifisia-based shipowner Technomar Shipping. Technomar has been a keen purchaser of former Evergreen Group-owned tonnage. Only last month it bought the mid-1990s built Ever Refine and Ever Reward in a deal which was reported to have cost $98M. A steady income on this deal is assured because Evergreen has chartered the 4,200teu vessels back for a minimum of 10 years. Although more usually associated with tankers and bulk carriers, another highly regarded Greek box ship player is the Tsakos Group. Most of its existing fleet has been purchased second-hand, in particular from South Korea-based Hanjin Shipping. It favours Panamax-class vessels of around 3,000teu, which offer maximum flexibility. Tsakos recently entered the newbuilding market, although it has since sold most of these contracts on to other owners. Some might consider this a shrewd move, given the prospect for over-tonnaging in the container markets in the near future.
Greek-owned container fleet
Owner teu (in service) teu (on order) Vessels (in service) Vessels (on order)
Cosmoship 4,134 8,218 4 8
Costamare Group 184,414 18,766 52 2
Danaos 68,785 49,173 18 9
Delphic 0 20,400 0 4
Dioryx 7,667 0 4 0
Efshipping 5,202 2,600 1 1
Eurobulk 4,436 0 3 0
Goldenport 12,322 0 10 0
Magnus Carriers 10,740 0 4 0
Target Marine 8,652 0 6 0
Technomar 59,375 0 23 0
Tsakos 26,231 14,120 9 5
Varship 6,261 0 5 0
Source: LR-Fairplay
Source: Cover Story Fairplay International Shipping Weekly, 01 Jun 2006


Greece: 823 firms seek cooperation with Turkey
---12:51 - 30 May 2006 - As many as 823 Greek firms are seeking cooperation with Turkish companies in such fields as textiles, ready-wear, automotives, spare parts, machinery and motor production. After two major partnership agreements between Turkish and Greek banks, trade between the two countries has gained momentum. Greece now tops the list of international companies offering to do business with Turkish firms. The latest list on the Turkish Union of Chambers and Commodities Exchanges (TOBB) Web site has 823 Greek firms seeking cooperation with Turkish firms in such fields as textiles, ready-wear, automotives, spare parts and machinery production, Turkish Daily News and Referans report.
Source: www.reporter.gr, 31 May 2006


Attica Holdings to acquire a ferry operator in northern Europe this year
Source: http://www.isotimia.gr, 29 May 2006 13:23


Greece's Attica Group Q1 net loss 5.5 mln eur vs loss 3.8 mln
---ATHENS (AFX) - Greek passenger shipper Attica Group said that it produced a net loss of 5.5 mln eur for the first quarter of 2006 from a net loss of 3.8 mln eur for the first quarter of last year due to higher fuel costs.
EBITDA dropped 79.8 pct year on year to 1.8 mln eur, compared to 8.9 mln eur for the first quarter of 2005, as a result of 65 pct higher fuel costs.
First quarter group sales rose 8.6 pct year on year to 68.5 mln eur. The company said that it had extraordinary gains of 8.1 mln eur stemming from the sale of Atticas stake in Hellenic Seaways and the sale of vessel Seajet 2 in March 2006.
Brokers said that even though the first quarter is the weakest for shipping companies, Atticas results are unlikely to please investors.
Blue Star Marine, in which Attica holds a 49 pct stake, also said that it produced a net loss of 2.1 mln eur which was better than the 4.4 mln eur loss for the first quarter of 2005, helped by a 1 mln eur one off capital gain from the sale of a vessel.
Blue Stars group turnover posted a 23.8 pct increase to 21.2 mln eur, while EBITDA rose 35.9 pct to 1.5 mln eur.
Brokers said that Blue Stars results were good on the back of increasing volumes in the domestic market, and an improving performance on the more profitable Patras - Bari route in the Adriatic.
Source: Euro2day news wire
Source: www.forbes.com, 05.26.2006, 05:04 AM


Minoan Lines: 8.5 % improvement in net results
Source: http://www.isotimia.gr, 29 May 2006 17:47


---Court orders end to action
The dispute concerns terms of employment on the vessels. The ships, which were previously owned by a Greek shipping company, were bought by Tallink earlier this year. The Greek, German, and Finnish crewmembers were replaced by Estonians, and the pay level dropped by about one quarter of what it was before.
The action did not affect passenger services: passengers and their cars were able to travel on schedule. However, about 30 lorry trailers arriving in Hanko yesterday were left on board.
Zitting noted that a similar temporary injunction had once been given in a dispute in the hotel and restaurant sector. Before a final ruling, the target of the action must be given the opportunity to state its case. In the previous matter, the injunction was cancelled.
Source: http://www.hs.fi/english/article/Seamen%E2%80%99s+Union+imposes+embargo+on+Superfast+Ferries+ships+in+Port+of+Hanko/1135220112205