Greek Shipping News Cuts
Week 27 - 2006

 

Attracting interest for the refurbishment of ports

---Merchant Marine Minister Manolis Kefaloyiannis told a press conference that a general invitation for expression of interest is planned for all ports that need refurbishment to eliminate all existing problems and that seven companies have already expressed interest in operating seaplane services to link smaller islands with larger ones.
By Nikos Bardounias - Kathimerini
The improvement of Greek port infrastructures will accelerate the modernization of the coastal shipping fleet and raise the quality of the service supplied to passengers, as it will allow new, modern vessels to approach small ports that today are considered insufficient.
Merchant Marine Minister Manolis Kefaloyiannis said a general invitation for expressions of interest is planned for all ports that require improvement in order to eliminate all existing problems.
Kefaloyiannis also stressed that within the next five years about 40 seaplanes will operate with hubs on the islands of Syros, Rhodes, Kalymnos and Crete, contributing to improved service to the smaller islands and their link with the bigger ones and the rest of Greece. Seven companies have already expressed their interest, said Kefaloyiannis.
Liberalization
Port services, and therefore ship fares, too, are fully liberalized in all ports that fulfill the two conditions: those served by a minimum of two companies and have a passenger total of at least 300,000. Among new ports where fares are still to be liberalized are Thasos, Samothrace and other smaller ports.
Source: www.ekathimerini.com, 7 July 2006


China's largest container ship on the international market
---The ship to which China owns the full intellectual property rights is on the international market for the first time, according to People's Daily on Thursday.
Hudong-Zhonghua Shipbuilding (Group) Co., Ltd. and Costamare Shipping Co. Greece signed a contract to build four of the 8,530 TEU container ships. The 8,530 TEU container ship is the largest ever exported, which indicates a breakthrough in the Chinese shipbuilding industry.
Source: By People's Daily Online, http://english.people.com.cn, UPDATED: 14:51, July 07, 2006


Blue Star buys fleet as last rites are administred over Dane
Beating off two other bidders, the acquisition marks a further strengthening of the Attica Holdings-controlled Blue Star in Greece's key domestic ferry market but administers the last rites on the community-based Dane set-up in 1979.
Dane, which served the Dodecanese and Cyclades islands, was listed on the Athens Stock Exchange (ASE) in 1994 but its share was suspended from trading in 1998 after its former chairman was charged with embezzlement.
The fate of the older ferries Patmos and Rodos is not known. Blue Star, which already has a ship on the Piraeus/Rhodes route, is keen to bolster this service and indeed, its overall presence in the domestic market, where it currently has five ships.
"It is Blue Star's intention to re-inforce its domestic share of the market. This buy is the first step and the company will decide its next move in a few days," said Michael Sakellis, md Blue Star. He said "it will be difficult, but we hope to have Diagoras ready by this summer".
The three ships have been up for auction several times over the past 12 months. Trouble began for Dane in the late 1990s, but numerous rescue plans failed and potential white knights could not save the company with the liquidation process beginning in the spring of 2005.
Source: www.newsfront.gr, 7 July 2006


Greek owners in $6bn record newbuild spree
---AFTER a slow start to the year Greek shipowners have placed orders for new ships worth record amounts in the first half.
During the whole of last year Greeks were estimated to have ordered about $3.7bn worth of ships for construction. An estimated $4.9bn of new orders in 2004 has also been beaten and the present spree threatens shortly to eclipse the $6.9bn tag put on Greek contracting from shipyards in 2003, a record year when 202 vessels of more than 19m dwt were ordered.
In contrast to the past two years, when much of Greek ordering activity was for smaller chemical and product tankers, the first six months of this year have witnessed many opting for bigger ships, seemingly oblivious to high prices demanded by builders.
Although March saw the peak of the flow of contractual ink, there has been a steady stream of Greek orders since then.
These included suezmax tankers ordered by Drytank and Kristen Navigation, aframax tankers contracted for a Restis Group venture, an MR product tanker ordered by Ionia Management at STX and a quartet of post-panamax container vessels ordered in China by Costamare Shipping.
According to the Union of Greek Shipowners there were 364 ships on order for Greek interests at the endof March this year.
In the short term oil demand has been forecast to rise 1.4% in the next quarter by the Paris based International Energy Agency and developments in the global economy have mainly been positive.
Source: www.lloydslist.com, by Nigel Lowry in Athens- Friday July 07 2006


State aid: Commission investigates support to Greek shipyard
---State aid: Commission investigates support to Greek shipyard
However, the Commission considers that some measures which were brought to its knowledge by a complainant do not constitute state aid or are exempted from EC Treaty rules by Article 296 of the EC Treaty, because they relate to the protection of national security interests.
Background
The company
State aid procedures concerning Hellenic shipyards
In April 2004, the Commission opened an investigation into amendments made to an investment plan partly financed by an aid previously authorised by the Commission. The investigation also concerned several loans and guarantees granted to HSY by the state-owned bank ETVA. The Commission received several letters from a complainant alleging various further state aid measures in favour of HSY. The Commission has decided to extend the investigation after assessing the information provided by the Greek authorities.
In a separate procedure, the Commission on 20 October 2004 (see IP/04/1260) ordered Greece to repeal certain legal provisions, which allowed the state to cover future retirement costs of HSY and to exempt the company from taxes related to reserves and increases of the share capital. The Commission concluded that these measures were incompatible with the Single Market as they constituted operating aid. The Commission also requested the Greek authorities to recover any aid that may already have been granted under these provisions.
Source: EUROPA (press release), Belgium - Jul 4, 2006, http://europa.eu.int


Frangou secures big slice of bank
---A Greek shipping investor has taken the chair at a local investment house.
Angeliki Frangou, chairman and chief executive of Nasdaq-listed Navios Maritime Holdings, is fast spreading her presence among stockmarkets and has now become chairman of a third listed company, this time on the Athens Stock Exchange (ASE).
ITF European Finance Investments Ltd, a Frangou-chaired special purpose acquisition company (Spac) listed on the London Stock Exchange Alternative Investment Market (AIM), has completed the EUR 120m-plus ($153.6m) purchase of a 28% stake in Athens-listed Proton Investment Bank. In addition to Frangou taking over as chairman of Proton, ITF chief executive officer George Kintis will also sit on the board.
Two other ITF-appointed directors were elected. George Minettas, a member of a leading Greek insurance family, will serve as a non-executive board member and former president of the ASE Panagiotis Alexakis asan independent non-executive member.
Proton, which was listed in Athens last December, focuses on investment banking and the provision of specialised corporate advisory and investment services.
But even after the purchase, ITF still has plenty of cash in its pocket for further investments. It raised $275m when it listed on the AIM in November. It then raised a further $420m through the issue of warrants, bringing the equity capacity of the company's investment programme to a total of $695m.
ITF's stated intention is to invest in the financial-services industry in Europe but with a primary focus on credit institutions and insurance companies in Greece, Bulgaria, Romania and Turkey. Meanwhile, besides her shipping background, Frangou has a strong banking connection. She served as an analyst on the trading floor of the Republic National Bank of New York in the late 1980s and as a board member of Greece's second-largest retail bank, Emporiki Bank, from April 2004 to August 2005.
Against the background of a rapidly changing Greek banking scene, Proton has commenced a merger process with Omega Bank SA, another smaller institution that focuses on retail-lending activities.
The merger, subject to approval by both Proton's and Omega's shareholders as well as regulatory approval, is not expected to be completed until September. Omega has 17 retail branches in Greece.
At the end of last year, a merger attempt fell through between Omega and Marfin Financial Group, which is also listed in Athens, whose vice chairman and chief executive, Andreas Vgenopoulos, is also deputy chairman of ITF.
Source: www.tradewinds.no, By Gillian Whittaker Athens, published: 07 July 2006


Eagle Bulk Shipping Inc. Increases Size of Credit Facility to $450 Million
---NEW YORK, July 6, 2006 (PRIMEZONE) -- Eagle Bulk Shipping Inc. (Nasdaq:EGLE), a global marine transportation company specializing in the Supramax segment of the dry bulk shipping industry, today announced that the Company has received a commitment from its lender, the Royal Bank of Scotland plc, to increase and amend its revolving credit facility to $450 million from $330 million.
Sophocles Zoullas, Chairman and Chief Executive Officer, commented, "The Company's amended credit facility will enhance our ability to achieve our business goals and lowers our overall cost of capital. The facility's increased size will result in the Company having an undrawn commitment of over $230 million once our latest vessel acquisitions announced on June 23, 2006 are completed. We believe that the continued support of the Royal Bank of Scotland plc in increasing the size of the facility on an unsyndicated basis underscores the Company's sound business model. Additionally, we believe that the facility's amended credit terms will prove beneficial to the Company, and therefore our shareholders, as we grow the business going forward."
The entire $450 million facility will be available for a period of six years from the availability date, compared to four years remaining in the commitment period of the Company's existing facility. There are no principal repayment obligations during this initial six-year period. Over the remaining four years, the facility will reduce in semi-annual amounts of $25,000,000 with a final reduction of $250,000,000 occurring simultaneously with the last semi-annual reduction.
The amended facility, which is subject to the execution of definitive documentation, will bear interest at the rate of 0.75% to 0.85% over LIBOR (decreased from 0.95% over LIBOR), depending upon the amount of debt drawn as a percentage of the value of the Company's vessels. The Company will pay a commitment fee of 0.25% per annum (decreased from 0.40%) on the undrawn amount of the facility.
About Eagle Bulk Shipping Inc.
Eagle Bulk Shipping Inc. is a Marshall Islands corporation headquartered in New York City. We are the largest U.S.-based owner of Handymax dry bulk vessels, which are dry bulk vessels that range in size from 35,000 to 60,000 deadweight tons, or dwt, and transport a broad range of major and minor bulk cargoes, including iron ore, coal, grain, cement and fertilizer, along worldwide shipping routes. Our strategy is to charter our modern fleet primarily pursuant to one- to three-year time charters to allow us to take advantage of the stable cash flow and high utilization rates that are associated with medium- to long-term time charters.
Source: http://www.eagleships.com


Kristen Orders 3 Oil Tankers From Hyundai Heavy, Fearnleys Says
---July 6 (Bloomberg) -- Kristen Navigation Inc., Greece's biggest owner of oil tankers, ordered three oil tankers from South Korea's Hyundai Heavy Industries Co. for about $234 million, shipbrokers Fearnleys AS said.
The three ships will each have a capacity of 159,000 deadweight metric tons and are due to be delivered in 2009, Oslo-based Fearnleys wrote in a weekly report yesterday.
The global fleet of oil carriers will increase by 2 percent to 313.5 million deadweight tons in the third quarter, according to London-based Drewry Shipping Consultants Ltd.
Hyundai Heavy Industries is the world's largest shipbuilder.
To contact the reporter on this story:
Grant Smith in London at Gsmith52@bloomberg.net
Last Updated: July 6, 2006 12:35 EDT
Source: http://www.bloomberg.com


Omega Navigation Announces Delivery of Two Product Tankers
As of today, Omega Navigation has taken delivery of five double hull product tankers and has agreements to acquire one additional double hull product tanker with expected delivery by the end of July 2006.
The "Omega Lady Sarah" is a Panamax (LR1) double hull product tanker of 71,500 deadweight tons ("dwt"), built by STX, South Korea in 2004. This is the third Panamax product tanker delivered to Omega and follows the delivery of the "Omega Queen" and "Omega King" announced on May 31, 2006 and June 16, 2006, respectively.
The "Omega Lady Sarah" is employed under a long-term time charter to ST Shipping & Transport (Glencore International AG), until June 2009 at a daily time charter hire rate of $24,000, with a profit sharing arrangement. Under the profit sharing arrangement, Omega Navigation will receive 100% of the vessel's daily time charter earnings between $24,000 and $25,500 per day, and time charter earnings in excess of $ 25,500 will be divided equally between Omega Navigation and Glencore International AG.
The "Omega Princess" is a Handymax (Ice Class 1A, IMO II & III) double hull product tanker of 36,680 deadweight tons ("dwt"), built by Hyundai, South Korea in 2006. This is the second Handymax product tanker delivered to Omega and follows the delivery of the sister vessel "Omega Prince" on June 27, 2006.
The "Omega Princess" is employed under a long term time charter to D/S Norden A/S (Norden) until June 2009 at a daily time charter hire rate of $21,000 with profit sharing during the months of January through April of each year of the time charter pursuant to which Omega Navigation will be paid 25% of any earnings of the vessel in excess of $27,000 per day. The Company has granted D/S Norden an option to extend the charter for an additional period of 12 months at a minimum daily time charter hire rate of $24,000.
The "Omega Lady Sarah" and "Omega Princess" acquisitions were funded in part with a portion of the net proceeds of the Company's initial public offering and in part with debt under a senior secured credit facility provided by HSH-Nordbank AG. Omega Navigation has selected VShips as the technical manager for the "Omega Lady Sarah" and the "Omega Princess." VShips also manages the "Omega Prince."
George Kassiotis, President and Chief Executive Officer of Omega Navigation, commented, "We are very pleased to take delivery of 'Omega Lady Sarah' and the 'Omega Princess,' two of six product tankers that we have agreed to acquire. 'Omega Lady Sarah' and 'Omega Princess,' will complement our current fleet of two dry bulk carriers, two Panamax product tankers and one Handymax product tanker. We are also pleased to have one of the world's largest and best known technical managers, VShips, manage the 'Omega Lady Sarah' and 'Omega Princess' along with the 'Omega Prince.' Once we take the delivery of our sixth double hull product tanker, we will have a young, modern and diversified fleet, primarily oriented towards product tankers.
Furthermore, we believe that the addition of the 'Omega Lady Sarah' and 'Omega Princess' to our current fleet enhances our ability to generate cash flow and reinforces the growth prospects of our company as well as our ability to implement our quarterly dividend policy, with the first dividend payment of $0.50 per share expected in August 2006. As of today, 100% of our operating days in 2006 and 82% in 2007 are fixed under period employment."
Fleet Profile and Employment: www.omeganavigation.com
Source: ---PIRAEUS, GREECE -- (MARKET WIRE) -- July 05, 2006 -- Omega Navigation Enterprises, Inc. (NASDAQ: ONAV), a provider of global marine transportation services (the "Company"), announced today that it has taken delivery of two product tankers, the "Iasonas," to be renamed the "Omega Lady Sarah," and the "Adonis," to be renamed the "Omega Princess."


Indian Naval ships to visit Greece
The visit seeks to foster maritime goodwill between the India and Greece, two nations that share a uniquely rich cultural and maritime heritage. This visit seeks to bring the two nations even closer, enhance existing bonds between India and Greece and for greater engagement in the years ahead.
The ships will be open for public visits, free entry, on 11 July 2006, between 0900 hrs and 1200 hrs. A media briefing will be held on 11 July 2006 between 1700 hrs and 1800 hrs, on board the flagship, INS MUMBAI.
The Flag Officer Commanding-in-Chief of the Western Fleet of India, Vice Admiral Sangram Singh Byce is also visiting Athens to coincide with the Western Fleet visit. The visiting Indian ships will be in Piraeus until 13 July, before returning to India.
Over the years, Indian warships have regularly paid visits to ports in the Mediterranean, reaffirming their peaceful presence and solidarity with countries in the region. The commitment of India to honour friendship and promote peace and stability amongst ?maritime? neighbours was evident during the Tsunami disaster that struck Indonesia, Sri Lanka and Maldives apart from the Eastern parts of India in Dec 2004. Indian ships and aircraft were among the first to provide relief and humanitarian aid on that occasion. Last month India also sent INS TABAR, a Guided Missile frigate to Indonesia to provide food and relief material in the aftermath of the May 2006 earthquake.
Source: www.ana.gr, Greece - Jul 6, 2006