Greek Shipping News Cuts
Week 34 - 2006

 

Greek taps US market for funds

---A major tanker offering is out to raise $200m from investors in the US.
The Laliotis group of Greece is turning to private-equity investors in the US in the hopes of raising some $200m for products-tanker acquisitions, finance sources tell TradeWinds.
Laliotis has been working this summer with New York investment bank Dahlman Rose on a deal centered on medium-range (MR) products tankers roughly five to seven years old, sources say. The parties would like to complete the offering no later than October.
Officials at Vassilis Laliotis's Athens-based Seaworld Management&Trading could not immediately be reached for comment.
TradeWinds understands the vessels in question are yet to be acquired, although it is not known whether Laliotis may hold purchase options on tankers subject to the completion of the offering.
Finance sources say a Laliotis-controlled management company would receive fees for the operation of the vessels under the private-equity structure.
Initial documents shown to potential investors suggest either short-term charters or spot employment for the tankers.
The Laliotis group made news recently with its order for two 110,000-dwt aframax newbuildings at Tsuneishi Shipbuilding in Japan, with conflicting reports on whether there are two options attached. Brokers put the market price at around $64.5m each.
The group operates four aframaxes built by the same yard and delivered in 2002 and 2003. All are on long-term bareboat charters to BP.
Laliotis also owns four 37,000-dwt chemical tankers of the same vintage and three 41,000-dwt single-skin products tankers.
Dahlman Rose already has had a big year in matching shipowners with private-equity investors. The boutique bank led by Ernie Dahlman and Simon Rose carried out shipping's biggest deal of its kind called a Private Investment in Public Equity (Pipe) in raising $191m for Quintana Maritime earlier this year. The Pipe was essential to Quintana's purchase of 17 bulkers from Metrobulk of Greece for $735m.
The Laliotis venture is one of at least two major tanker offerings making the rounds in the US private-equity market at the moment. The second is Product Transport Corp, the comeback vehicle for Norwegian entrepreneur Bjorn Aaserod, featuring 10 MR tanker newbuildings at China's Jingling Shipyard.
Aaserod's team has appeared to struggle, with industry sources saying last month that it has missed the yard's deadline for the first down payment in May and has failed to pay since, despite two extensions.
At least one reason for Aaserod's trouble is that, while he has 10-year charters with oil major Shell, the rate is entirely market-related with no floor in place.
"It occurs to some investors that a charter on that basis is not really a charter," said one finance man. "If the market is $8,000 a day, they get $8,000 a day.
"The private equity market is not that easy right now," he added. "Investors are not only looking for a visible income stream but also for a high return on their equity. The question is whether projects like these offer that."
By Joe Brady, Stamford, published: 25 August 2006
Source: www.tradewinds.no


Louise franschise deal with EasyGroup boost new ship commitment
The move comes 10 days after EasyCruiseTwo, a river cruiser also operated on franchise by Netherlands-based Boonstra River Line, left Amsterdam on its maiden voyage. easyCruise started operations in 2005, with summer programmes in the Med, transferring to the Caribbean in winter.
Louis has four ships out on charter, three to Thomson Cruises on the UK market and one to Transocean Tours Germany. It operates the remaining ships under its own brand in the Med. Just as with Boonstra, the agreement between Louis and easyCruise is not a jv but a franchise based on easyCruise receiving a royalty on revenues. Exact terms of the deal have not been revealed.
Under the franchise the Louis ships will be constructed to easyCruise specifications, or Louis will be able to 'makeover' its existing ships to easyCruise standards. easyCruise Ltd will be able to operate in the region only up to the start of the first cruise operated by Louis under the easyCruise banner while Louis will be able to use the ticket sale site (www.easyCruise.com) for low cost cruise on offer.
Louis Group executive chairman, Costakis Loizou said: "We now have the ability to expand our activities to a new type of cruises, mainly aimed at younger people, offering a different product that complements the existing activities of Louis Cruise Lines."
easyCruise said the agreement will enable it to grow more quickly and widen the geographical reach of its cruises. Further, "easyCruise will explore further franchise opportunities in other global markets".
Meanwhile, Louis confirms purchase of the 15,700gt Lebanese cruiseship Orient Queen (built 1968). Louis Cruise Lines' ceo, Stelios Kiliaris, confirms Louis has taken the Orient Queen (ex-Bolero) on short period charter for the Princesa Marisa, which is employed in the Lebanon evacuation. Louis will invest $22m on this ship.
Beirut-based Abou Merhi Lines, which also operates several ro-ros, purchased the former Festival Cruises ship in early 2005 and after giving it a $15m refit, deployed it on summer cruises out of Beirut. Brokers believe the Orient Queen could replace either the 12,600gt Ivory (ex-Ausonia) or the 14,100gt Serenade (ex-Mermoz) both built in 1957.
Source: www.newsfront.gr, 25 Aug 2006


Greeces Attica Holdings H1 sales down 8 pct yr-on-yr to 151 mln eur
---ATHENS (AFX) - Greek passenger shipper Attica Holdings said that its first half year group sales were down 8 pct year on year to 151 mln eur because its fleet was reduced by three super fast ferries in the second quarter.
Six month EBITDA fell 42 pct year on year to 19 mln eur on higher operating expenses and particularly higher fuel costs which cost the company 10.5 mln eur.
Persistently high fuel costs offset any benefits from domestic market liberalization.
First half year group net income jumped to 6.7 mln eur from 2.3 mln eur for the same time last year aided by extraordinary gains of about 20.1 mln eur from the sale of three vessels as well as the sale of its stake in Hellenic Seaways.
Atticas 48.8 pct subsidiary Blue Star Maritime reported a 12.6 pct increase in consolidated turnover to 62.3 mln eur despite 15 pct fewer sailings due to fleet restructuring. This was largely due to increased total volume in the local market particularly the Cyclades and Dodecanese routes.
The strong top line growth in conjunction with the improving performance in the Patras-Bari route more than offset the impact of higher fuel prices.
Six month EBITDA was up 32.8 pct year on year to 14.8 mln eur. At the bottom line, net profit came in at 6.2 mln eur on the back of lower than expected financial expenses and the one-off 1.1 mln eur gain from the sale of Seajet 2.
Source: www.forbes.com, 08.25.2006, 05:34 AM


Dryships Inc. Announces New Fixed Period Charter at $28,000 per Day
---ATHENS, GREECE -- (MARKET WIRE) -- August 25, 2006 -- DryShips Inc. (NASDAQ: DRYS), a global provider of marine transportation services for drybulk cargoes, announced today that it has entered its Panamax bulk carrier "Iguana" into a 12 month time charter that commenced on August 19, 2006 at the daily rate of $28,000. "Iguana" was built in 1996 and has a carrying capacity of 70,349 dwt.
George Economou, Chairman and Chief Executive Officer, commented, "We are pleased to announce this new time charter which over its course is expected to add approximately another $10 million to the already contacted time charter revenue of DryShips. This new time charter enhances our cash flow generation over the next twelve months, enhances its predictability and underlines our strategy of taking advantage of the strong industry fundamentals at an opportune time."
About DryShips Inc.
DryShips Inc., based in Greece, is an owner and operator of drybulk carriers that operate worldwide. As of the day of this Release, DryShips owns a fleet of 29 drybulk carriers and has entered into agreements to acquire 5 additional vessels. Following delivery of these 5 vessels, DryShips' fleet will consist of 4 Capesize, 27 Panamax and 3 Handymax vessels, with a combined deadweight tonnage of approximately 2.75 million and an average age of 10.5 years.
DryShips Inc.'s common stock is listed on NASDAQ National Market where it trades under the symbol "DRYS."
Source: Press Release,


Euroseas Ltd. Reports Results for the Second Quarter of 2006
---MAROUSSI, GREECE -- (MARKET WIRE) -- August 22, 2006 -- Euroseas Ltd. (OTCBB: ESEAF), an owner and operator of dry bulk and container carrier vessels and provider of seaborne transportation for dry bulk and containerized cargoes, announced today its results for the second quarter of 2006 and six months ended June 30, 2006.
Second Quarter 2006 Results:
For the second quarter of 2006, the company reported total net revenues of $10.2 million and net income of $6.6 million. EBITDA for the second quarter of 2006 was $8.6 million. Please see below for EBITDA reconciliation to net income. In the second quarter of 2005, net revenues were $10.5 million, net income was $6.3 million and EBITDA was $7.6 million. On average, 8.4 vessels were operated during the second quarter of 2006 compared to 7 vessels in the second quarter of 2005.
Earnings per share for the second quarter of 2006 were $0.17, calculated on 37,860,341 weighted average number of shares outstanding during this quarter, compared to earnings per share of $0.21 for the second quarter of 2005 calculated on 29,754,166 weighted average number of shares outstanding during that quarter.
Six Months Ended June 30, 2006 Results:
For the six months ended June 30, 2006, the company reported total net revenues of $19.5 million and net income of $10.0 million. EBITDA for the period was $14.0 million (again, please see below for EBITDA reconciliation to net income). In the first six months ended June 30, 2005, net revenues were $22.5 million, net income was $14.8 million and EBITDA was $17.0 million. On average, 8.2 vessels were operated during the six months ended June 30, 2006 compared to 7 vessels in the same period 2005.
Earnings per share for the six months ended June 30, 2006, were $0.27, calculated on 37,347,580 weighted average number of shares outstanding during this period, compared to earnings per share of $0.50 for the same period 2005 calculated on 29,754,166 weighted average number of shares outstanding during that period.
Results for the three- and six-month periods ended June 30, 2006 included a capital gain of $2.2 million from the sale of M/V "Pantelis P," one of the company's handysize vessels.
Aristides Pittas, Chairman and CEO of Euroseas, commented: "In the first six months of 2006, we continued executing our stated strategy of growing our company with accretive acquisitions in the dry segments we operate. The acquisition of M/V 'Tasman Trader' in April 2006 and the acquisition of M/V 'Torm Tekla' in July 2006, to be delivered between August 20 and September 20, 2006, follow our earlier acquisition of M/V Artemis in November 2005. These three acquisitions have an average age of 16 years and required us to invest about $55 million of which about $16 million came from funds raised in our private placement last August and the remaining from debt financing. With the simultaneous sale of M/V 'Pantelis P' and M/V 'John P,' two of our oldest vessels, our fleet average age has now been reduced to about 18.3 years. Excluding M/V 'Ariel,' the oldest vessel in our fleet, the average age of our fleet is now 16.7 years, which is the age group we believe allows us to maximize the return on our investments.
"Having now invested essentially all the net proceeds of our private placement of August 2005, we are already looking at ways to further grow our company and take advantage of the positive long-term industry fundamentals.
"Our stock currently trades on the OTCBB but we have applied to list our stock on the Nasdaq National Market. We believe that a Nasdaq listing will benefit the Company and its shareholders by increasing the trading liquidity of our stock."
Tasos Aslidis, Chief Financial Officer of Euroseas, commented: "The results of the second quarter of 2006 represent an improvement over the first quarter of 2006 consistent with the improvement of the markets over the same period. The average vessel daily time charter equivalent rate of our fleet during the second quarter of 2006 was $13,738 versus $13,072 during the first quarter of 2006. The corresponding average earnings of our fleet in 2005 were $18,148 for the second quarter and $20,070 for the first. Our average daily operating expense per vessel during the six-month period of 2006 (excluding General & Administration expenses) was $4,159 versus $4,133 during the same period in 2005.
"As of today, about 95% of our total ship capacity days in 2006 have been fixed under period or short term employment contracts; in 2007, about 50% of our capacity is under time charter contracts or protected from market fluctuations. We believe that our contract coverage gives us a solid revenue base for 2006 and 2007.
"Based on the strength of our cash flow and consistent with our goal to pay regular dividends to our shareholders, on August 15, 2006, we declared our fourth consecutive quarterly dividend of $0.06 per share. Since our private placement in August 2005, we have declared total dividends of $0.25 per share."
Fleet Developments:
On July 5, 2006, the company delivered to its buyers the M/V "John P," a handysize bulk carrier of 26,354 dwt built in 1981. The vessel was sold on March 27, 2006. We expect to gain about $2.3 million from the sale.
Within the second quarter of 2006, we continued our fleet development strategy by entering into an agreement on July 25, 2006 to purchase M/V "Torm Tekla," a Panamax dry bulk carrier vessel of 69,268 dwt built in 1993. "Torm Tekla" is to be delivered to us between August 20 and September 20, 2006 at the seller's option. M/V "Torm Tekla" comes with a period charter attached until November 20, 2006 at a rate of $19,750 per day. The acquisition will be financed from the company's cash reserves and a bank loan.
Following the acquisition of M/V "Torm Tekla," we will have a fleet of 8 vessels, including 2 Panamax drybulk carriers, 2 Handysize drybulk carriers, 3 Handysize containerships and a Handysize multipurpose dry cargo vessel. Our 4 drybulk carrier vessels have a total cargo capacity of 207,464 deadweight tons (dwt), our 3 containerships have a cargo capacity of 66,100 dwt and 4,636 teu and our 1 multipurpose vessel has a cargo capacity of 22,568 dwt and 950 teu.
Quarterly Dividend Declaration:
On August 15, 2006, the company announced the declaration of its fourth consecutive dividend of $0.06 per common share payable on September 15, 2006 to all shareholders of record as of September 5, 2006. This follows the company's dividend declarations of $0.06 per common share on May 12, 2006, of $0.06 per share on February 7, 2006 and of $0.07 per share on November 2, 2005. Since our private placement in August 2005, we have declared total dividends of $0.25 per share.
Fleet Profile is avalilable at: http://www.marketwire.com/mw/release_html_b1?release_id=156342
Source: www.euroseas.gr


Since then, the PPA and Geneva-based liner giant MSC have been found to have also violated rules against collusion, with the effect of distorting competition.
Lower pricing and preferential handling granted to MSC under the exclusive deal signed about eight years ago are alleged to have harmed other carriers using the port, including the Sarlis container shipping and agency group that triggered the investigation.
The full panel of the competition commission will meet on September 18 and the case is due to be considered in the upcoming session.
Despite the substantial penalty proposed, guidelines call for fines of up to 15% of annual gross earnings. At this stage the directorate-general does not appear to be proposing a fine for MSC.
Despite the public listing, the port corporation is about 75% controlled by the Greek state, making the case a particularly embarrassing one.
Source: www.lloydslist.com


Busy Ports - 6.4 mln passengers this summer
---More than 6.4 million passengers have traveled on board a ferry from the ports of Piraeus, Rafina and Lavrion from the start of the tourist season until now, according to data released by the Merchant Marine Ministry yesterday. Some 20,000 ferry routes were also conducted in the same time period, beginning April 17. Merchant Marine Minister Manolis Kefaloyiannis met with senior port officials yesterday to oversee measures that will help with the large number of travelers expected to return to Athens from their holidays in coming days.
Source: Kathimerini, English Edition, 24 Aug 2006


Banana dumping causes Greek stand-off
---The proposed disposal of 2,000 tonnes of rotting bananas has caused a dispute in Greece.
The problems arose when a vessel carrying bananas from Ecuador to Turkey suffered a refrigeration failure and the captain had to dock at Volos, in Greece.
The fruit was being stored at the dock for three days, before the local mayoral council agreed to dump it in a nearby landfill site.
However, residents living next to the site have protested and raised several petitions claiming the dumping of that many bananas will harm the local environment.
Source: http://www.freshinfo.com, Story published: Tue 22 Aug 06 09:01


Pipeline regains Russian interest
The three countries signed a memorandum in April 2005 to build the pipeline, but since March 2006 a series of contacts between Greek and Russian diplomats as well as companies interested in participating in the project have created greater momentum for it.
Reliable sources reveal that four weeks ago Moscow submitted a draft interstate agreement for the realization of the pipeline to the Greek and Bulgarian sides. Crucially, the Russian state guarantees for the first time in this draft certain quantities of oil that can secure the viability of the project. This guarantee also requires a similar guarantee to participate by the oil companies, which is key for the pipeline and could be put on paper on September 4.
Another key visit was that of the Russian oil consortium to Turkey in July, during which the construction of a Samsun-Ceyhan pipeline was definitely rejected as too costly.
The American side, too, is reportedly being updated on developments, while sources suggest that US firm Chevron has expressed interest in the project.
Source: http://www.ekathimerini.com, 24/08/2006, CHRYSSA LIAGGOU


Greece's Aid and Investment Boost Balkan Economy and Stability
Economically, the Balkan states are relatively small entities. The new states that emerged from the disintegration of Yugoslavia were not attractive to largescale foreign investment. Now the perspective of the abolition of economic borders, in the context of potential membership in the European Union, has opened new opportunities for the Balkans: first, through the establishment of a free-trade zone and, second, through the phased inclusion of the countries of the region into the EU. An emerging marketplace of 50-million consumers has the potential to attract big cross-border investments, and I would advise our American partners to invest there.
European integration and the prospect of EU membership constitute the strongest single soft-power mechanism for engaging reforms, consolidating democracy and making institutions more compatible with European standards. It also benefits the economy: market reforms are necessary, not just within individual countries but also for the region as a whole.
Now we have a marketplace of 120 million people; Greece ranks among the top investors in the Balkan countries, where Greek investment amounts to roughly ten billion dollars and has generated 200,000 new jobs. The trade volume between Greece and its Balkan neighbors is about four billion dollars.
Greece has a growing role as a regional energy hub. The only functioning crude-oil pipeline in the Balkans is the one that links the Thessaloniki port with Skopje. We hope for recognition on a business level that this pipeline should be extended to Pristina. A natural-gas pipeline linking Turkey to Greece could interconnect on Greek territory with a pipeline to Italy and bring Caspian gas to Western markets.
Like our EU partners, Greece was caught by surprise by the collapse of the Soviet Union and the disintegration of Yugoslavia. Clearly, the EU was not prepared, and in the early 1990s national concerns prevailed in policy options, especially up until 1994. Fragmented European policy, particularly in the Balkans, sowed a crop of problems and added to major differences between Europe and the United States.
"We cannot expect to achieve stability in Europe if a black hole remains in the Balkans"
The international community, Greece included, opposes the partition of Kosovo
The settlement of the Kosovo issue should be well-calibrated and implemented in phases. The steps to be taken should be secured in advance and should not be based on artificial timetables and deadlines.
There is international consensus that no one wants to see Kosovo or any part of Kosovo united with, or annexed by, any neighboring country ("Greater Albania" or "Greater Kosovo"). Under Secretary of State Nicholas Burns expressed U.S. policy clearly on this point in his statements to Congress in November 2005. This option is simply not on the table for the EU, the United States or Russia as members of the Contact Group.
Alexandros P.Mallias is the ambassador of the Hellenic Republic to the United States. He previously directed the Southeastern Europe department at the Ministry of foreign affairs and was a national coordinator in the Stability Pact for Southeastern Europe. This article is based on remarks at a conference of The European Institute in April 2006.
Source: http://www.hellenicnews.com, 23 August 2006, By Alexandros P.Mallias