Greek Shipping News Cuts
Week 43 - 2006
Greek Shipping Summit 2006: 3 November 2006, Grand Bretagne, Athens, www.greekshippingsummit.com
The future of Greek shipping is the focus of the Greek Shipping Summit being organised by the Seatrade Group and TradeWinds at the Hotel Grande Bretagne, Athens, November 3. With thelargest merchant fleet in the world, the strength and wellbeing of the Greek fleet is a key issue in the industry. The Greek Shipping Summit brings in expert speakers to look at "Greek Shipping 20 years on" and discuss future demands on Greek owners from charterers, and the impact on bulk shipping of the European Union (EU)'s decision on competition rules. Also tackled will be introduction of more stringent regulations and their affect on smaller owning companies, especially as consolidation gains pace. Indeed, a parliamentary-style debate on whether consolidation is a necessary and desirable goal for the successful future of Greek shipping is expected to be a highlight, with a vote taken at conclusion of the debate. Further information: www.greekshippingsummit.com
Source: Compiled by firstname.lastname@example.org
China, Greece to strengthen economic cooperation
---Updated: 2006-10-25 09:23
China's Commerce Minister said Tuesday that China is willing to enhance economic cooperation with Greece, especially in relation to the shipping industry.
Minister of Commerce Bo Xilai said when meeting visiting Greek Minister of Economy and Finance George Alogoskoufis in Beijing that Greece, a giant shipping power, should team up with China whose shipping needs are on the rise. The two nations are complementary, he said.
He added that the trade imbalance between the two countries would gradually ease as bilateral cooperation advanced.
"I notice that Greek ship-owners have placed an order for four oil tankers in Shanghai. Meanwhile, Chinese firms are importing Greek products such as olive oil and marble," Bo said.
Alogoskoufis said that China's economic development was rapid.
He said that Greece excels in shipping, tourism and services. But traditional Greek farm produce such as grapes and wine also sell well in China.
Greece could become a significant point of entry for China to expand its trade with Europe, he added.
Since Greece is listed as a Chinese tourism destination country, the two countries can arrange chartered flights to gauge the tourism market potential, Bo said.
Official data show that trade volume between China and Greece hit 2.02 billion U.S. dollars last year, a threefold rise since 2000.
As of May, Greece had invested 100 billion U.S. dollars on 58 projects in China.
Source: (Xinhua), http://www.chinadaily.com.cn/bizchina/2006-10/25/content_716315.htm
Ethnos: Piraeus and Thessaloniki to become transit centres for Chinese goods
---Greece and China are seeking to further improve their ties in shipping by turning the ports of Piraeus and Thessaloniki to become transit centers for Chinese goods intended for the Western markets, Greek newspaper Ethnos reported.
-China has shown interest in the creation of infrastructure, initially at the ports of Piraeus and Thessaloniki, for its transit goods to the Middle East, Europe, the Black Sea countries etcetera, Finance Minister George Alogoskoufis said.
-There is interest not only from Chinese companies in the creation of infrastructure in Greek ports, but also on the part of Greek shipowners for facilities at Chinese ports, he reported.
In addition, work had begun on resolving minor difficulties between the two sides.
Open tenders would be called for port improvement projects, with financial criteria taken into account, a bidding floor, and guarantees for cargo in transit, Alogoskoufis said.
Accompanying him, Deputy Finance Minister Christos Folias underlined that he saw opportunities for alliances in all sectors.
We proposed backing the creation in the two countries of joint ventures between Greek and Chinese firms, Folias noted.
Minister Alogoskoufis and 50-member business delegation visits China.
Source: Wednesday, 25 October 2006, http://www.mrt.com.mk/en/index.php?option=com_content&task=view&id=1365&Itemid=26
Contractor-General to consider agreeing to Opposition probe requests
---Thu Oct 26, 2006. Contractor-General Greg Christie is yet to decide if he will conduct a series of investigations requested by Opposition Spokesman on Finance, Audley Shaw.
On Monday, Mr. Shaw wrote to the Contractor-General requesting probes into an oil deal between Petroleum Corporation of Jamaica and PetroEcuador and the deal between the PCJ and the Greek entity Aegean Bunkering Limited.
Mr. Shaw also called for a probe into all Government contracts negotiated by former Information and Development Minister, Colin Campbell over the past six months.
But in a response Wednesday, Mr. Christie said while he is committed to ensuring that all legitimate requests for investigations are reviewed several factors have to be considered before any probe is launched.
According to Mr. Christie any decision to launch an investigation has to be guided by the provisions of the Contractor General's Act and the availability of the necessary assets and resources.
Mr. Christie said he has assigned Mr. Shaw's request to the Director of Licenses and Permits in his office for consideration.
The Contractor-General has already launched a probe into the agreements between the PCJ and the Dutch firm Trafigura.
That investigation was launched after news surfaced that the PCJ has repeatedly renewed a contract with Trafigura without putting it to tender.
On Monday the Ministry of Energy submitted several documents which the Contractor General requested as part of the Trafigura probe.
Stock of homegrown ship officers dries up
---23 Oct 2006 By Catherine Boitard - Agence France-Presse
But supply has failed to keep up with this demand, reflecting a trend prevalent across Europe.
Not only is there an acute shortage of Greek officers, but the number of Greek sailors has also fallen in the last 25 years from 100,000 to 30,000, industry insiders say.
A reliable supply of sailors has been found in low-pay hands from Eastern Europe and Southeast Asia, but no such alternative exists for officers, whose numbers reflect a global shortage of 10,000 according to a 2005 report published by the International Federation of Sailors.
But with Greece in direct competition with Asian powers for naval dominance, such a move would amount to commercial suicide, she notes.
Going for Greek officers also makes sense when it comes to dealing with stepped-up port security, Bredima adds.
, Anjeong Ind Complex, Kwangdo-myon, Tongyong Kyongsangnam-do, 650-827, South Korea. Tel. ++82 55 649 41 04. Fax. ++82 55 649 40 17.
Global ties put Fortis ahead
---A worldwide network of shipping executives is giving a bank its edge.
Benelux-based Fortis Bank has cemented its reputation as one of the most innovative ship lenders with several headline-grabbing deals.
In the past 18 months, the Rotterdam-based bank has brought large deals together such as Quintana Maritime's purchase of the Metrostar ships, Top Tanker's huge sale and lease-back project and Gulf Navigation's syndicated facility.
It has also had a hand in arguably the largest number of shipping initial public offerings (IPOs) of any commercial bank number to date, 13 its true role perhaps overshadowed by the fact it has not taken a lead role in the actual distribution of shares.
Instead the bank has been working hard behind the scenes advising clients when and how to come to the market, subsequently taking a co-manager's role on the tombstone. "We spent a lot of time talking to owners about the capital markets," said shipping group head Harris Antoniou. "Some went public, some didn't."
So far the list "that did" includes Danaos, Diana Shipping, Quintana Maritime, Seaspan and Arlington Tankers. Victor Restis's Golden Energy Marine Corp was the notable exception that got away for now.
The deals are typical of the kind of transactions being sought after by the bank, which has moved aggressively in the past five years from straightforward lending towards more creative, investment banking-type deals.
Harris Antoniou, the Greek-born head of shipping who moved to Rotterdam to take the helm last year, says the company actively tries to cultivate a "merchant-bank mentality" in a bid to attract brainstorming bankers. "What can you offer clients today? Is it capital? Capital is abundant. No, people are eager to get ideas from their bank," he said.
Antoniou believes Fortis's edge comes from its worldwide network of shipping executives a familiar mantra among the specialist shipping banks but one that appears to be borne out by the recent deals.
The $735m Quintana/Metrostar mega-deal arose from the long-standing friendship between Antoniou and Quintana chief and former Stelmar Shipping chief financial officer Stamatis Molaris.
"We go way back," said Antoniou of Molaris.
In his former role as head of Fortis's Greek office, Antoniou was instrumental in Stelmar's purchase of 10 products tankers from Osprey Maritime in 2001 and its subsequent listing in New York. The bank described the deal at the time as a "landmark" its first large transaction acting in the fashion of an investment bank rather than a straight lender.
The situation was to repeat itself this year. Having worked on Quintana's IPO and aware the company was looking for a big-ticket acquisition, Antoniou sought out his old friends at Theodore Angelopoulos's Metrostar, a company "known for being able to transact large deals, and quickly", he says.
The result was a 17-ship deal, complete with charters to Bunge, transforming Quintana into a major player, although some critics were quick to claim Quintana overpaid for the ships. In the end, Fortis acted as mergers-and-acquisitions (M&A) adviser, co-underwriter of the private placement and debt arranger/provider.
Relationships also led to another notable deal this year with US-listed Top Tankers.
Identifying that Top Tankers was in a position to sell and lease back part of its fleet, Fortis brought Korea Marine Fund Corp (Komarf) on board to provide the equity the first deal between a Korea shipping-investment company and a foreign shipowner although again some have claimed the deals were expensive for Top Tankers.
Antoniou says the connection with the Koreans came about from the return of Cees Kamphof, a Singapore-based director, to the Rotterdam head office. "It's about the cross-fertilisation of ideas and contacts within the team," he said.
Competitor banks cite the Top Tankers deal as typical of the bank, acknowledging "Fortis is excellent at making use of its global network to get deals. They spot opportunities fast and get their noses in the right direction, fast", says one. However, he added as a caveat: "They are, however, aggressive both towards investors and, as to other banks co-operating with them, it can be a bit risky. But maybe nice guys stay poor?"
Fortis has now signed a mutual agreement with Komarf to "identify future deals", although the amount of activity in the short term may "depend on what the market does", says Antoniou.
As well as identifying potential M&A deals, Antoniou says Fortis has made a concerted effort to identify potential success stories at an early stage. To this end, the bank's equity arm, Maas Capital, has taken investments in several fledgling shipowners, which have later gone on to bigger and better things.
For example, Fortis took a sizeable investment in Simeon Palios's bulker outfit Diana Shipping in 2002, which went on to list in New York in 2004. Maas also provided mezzanine financing to Vancouver-based Seaspan in its early years, going on to act as a co-manager on the IPO plus joint bookrunner for an associated $1bn loan facility.
Antoniou names Diana Shipping as a textbook case of how the company likes to develop its banking relations. After initially participating in the equity structure of the company, the bank then proposed an IPO, helped select the advisers for the IPO and co-managed the issue. Antoniou says, proudly, that market conditions were "perfect" when the company launched in 2004 and the deal was five times oversubscribed.
"Some banks concentrate on the top 50 owners but we like a broader focus. We need to be there with the small companies and help them grow. We try to identify winners," he said.
He added: "It is why we have seven offices worldwide. If you want to look at the mid-size owners, you need to be close to them."
Not surprisingly, Antoniou will not divulge which companies it now has its eye on but mentions Greece's Technomar as another owner it has backed for some time.
For now, the bank is not working on any more IPOs, although Antoniou dismisses claims shipping issues have to be faddish. "If you have a good story and are properly structured, you can always have a successful IPO. Danaos was very successful in a period when not many offerings have been achieved," he said.
Fortis's latest project, through its transport corporate-finance team in the US , is advising US-listed Chiquita Brands International on the restructuring of its logistics and transport business, a job that will likely involve the sale of the group's reefer fleet and outsourcing of its ocean-shipping and logistics activities.
For the future, Antoniou sees more of a convergence between energy, commodities and transport sectors and the bank has re-structured to bring those teams together. Antoniou cites the advent of containership companies moving into ports and traditional shipowners like Exmar and Teekay taking a growing role in the energy business, as opportunities for the bank to use its wider expertise.
"We have to raise the bar. Maybe more banks are getting involved in this [investment-banking]process but we think we have an advantage because we have a track record and built-in competences," he said.
By Liz Shuker, Amsterdam, published: 27 October 2006
Source: www.tradewinds.no. 27 Oct 2006
Global Oceanic rights offer gets 84 pct take-up
---LONDON (AFX) - Global Oceanic Carriers Ltd said it has closed a one-for-one rights offering of 20 mln shares at 65 pence a share, which was mostly taken up by existing substantial shareholders who also underwrote the issue.
The AIM listed Greek based dry bulk shipping company said it received valid acceptances in respect of 16.8 mln shares or 84 pct of the total offering from qualifying shareholders.
When announcong the rights offer earlier this month, the company said it had received irrevocable undertakings in respect of 14,240,767 new shares from substantial shareholders the Trafalgar Funds, International Trading Inc, Ultra Shipping SA and Argo Capital Investors Fund SPC.
Source: Tuesday, 24th October 2006 09:29, http://www.lse.co.uk
Confidence high as Economou ploughs $6m back into DryShips
By Nigel Lowry in Athens- Thursday October 26 2006
The price to be paid for issuance of new DryShips shares would be based on the average closing price of common stock on the Nasdaq Global Market over the eight trading days ending October 24, the company said.
Aegean lifts newbuilding book to 40 double hull tankers
Qingdao Hyundai Shipbuilding (QHS), the Chinese shipbuilding arm of South Korea's
Hyundai Group, has secured a contract to build seven 6,200dwt double-hull products tankers worth around $100m. At the beginning of the year QHS and Aegean signed for five ships with an option for another four at a cost of around $10m a ship, thus the latest order shows close to a 50% increase in the building price of these tankers in around nine months.
The seven latest newbuildings will deliver within 2009, while those ordered in January, 2006 are slated for delivery from November 2007.
Aegean operates bunkering services in Gibraltar, Piraeus, Singapore, Fujairah and Jamaica and its expansion plans include increasing its market share at existing bunkering stations and opening new ones.
Last March, the group placed orders for 15 tankers of 4,000dwt at Southeast Shipyards of Fujian, and in June booked up to six prototype 2,500dwt ro/ro tankers at Romania's Severnav shipyard.
All the newbuildings will be classed by DNV. Upon completion of the latest order, the ships will receive the class notation +1A1 Tanker for Oil, ESP, ECO, Tmon. Further the latest Aegean order lifts to 100 the number of ships secured from Greek owners this year for construction to DNV class.
Aegean's founder and president, Dimitris Melissanidis has said: "Aegean is dedicated to developing innovative and competitive products".
Growing steadily for a decade in the ship bunkering and petrol station sectors, Aegean's expansion picked up after it won a contract four years ago to provide bunkering services to US ships, including navy ships, in the Eastern Mediterranean. This agreement was subsequently extended to include the wider Atlantic Ocean region.
As well as running ship bunkering stations, Aegean has some 400 petrol stations around Greece and plans to operate 800 petrol stations within 2008, many of them spread around the Aegean and Ionian islands
Source: www.newsfront.gr, 27 October 2006
Bid for voyages with easyCruise/eBay tie-up
---Low-cost cruise line easyCruise is to allow prospective holidaymakers to bid for its voyages on internet auction site eBay.
"Our primary business has always come via our internet site, www.easyCruise.com," said the company's founder Stelios Haji-Ioannou. "So, to link with the world's online market place is obviously a perfect fit. The deal will offer consumers a completely new way to book their holidays and we are very excited about the prospects this brings."
The eBay scheme is being implemented by technology company Cultuzz, which can launch auctions on several different eBay sites at the same time. This means that would-be cruise-goers can use the service in the UK, Italy, Australia and other countries.
Haji-Ioannou is the son of a Greek shipping magnate who had huge success with his airline easyJet. He has applied the same no-frills formula to easyCruise, which is aimed at "independently-minded travellers in their 20s, 30s and 40s".
Cyprus Stocks, Set for EU Entry, Bounce on Greek Link (Update1)
---By Maher Chmaytelli - Oct. 26 (Bloomberg) -- Stocks in Cyprus, the world's second- best performing market behind Peru this year, may get an added boost as shares become available for trading in Greece, home of southeast Europe's largest exchange.
Joint trading of Greek and Cypriot stocks beginning Oct. 30 ``will help liquidity as well as give the stock market exposure to a network of investors that's much bigger,'' said Paschalis Terzis, investment director of Athens-based Hellenic Trust MFC SA, which manages about 83 million euros ($104.1 million). ``It will make a big difference.''
The Cyprus Stock Exchange General Index has more than doubled this year as investors anticipated mergers and acquisitions involving the eastern Mediterranean island's three biggest banks.
Shares of Bank of Cyprus Ltd. have surged 90 percent this year, Cyprus Popular Bank Ltd. has doubled and Hellenic Bank Ltd. has almost tripled. The banks account for 87 percent of the 4.9 billion Cyprus pounds ($10.7 billion) market value for the main Cyprus market.
Since Cyprus joined the European Union in May 2004, the general index has tripled. Investor confidence grew in the island that was divided in two after the 1974 Turkish invasion of the northern portion. Cyprus plans to replace its currency, the pound, with the euro in 2008, assuming it meets EU criteria.
The Athens and Cyprus exchanges will make all stocks traded on the two bourses available to investors through one trading platform, under the same regulations. The venture makes it easier for the pool of investors who trade in Greek stocks to own shares in Cypriot companies.
The Cyprus exchange will be closed today and tomorrow to prepare for the link up, said the bourse, based in the capital of Nicosia, on its Web site.
Cyprus is drawing investment because it has a flat 10 percent corporate tax rate, the lowest in the EU. Its income per capita of about $21,500 amounts to 83 percent of the average of the 25 EU members and is the highest of the 10 nations that joined the bloc in 2004. The island is benefiting too because of business ties to the growing markets of Russia and the oil-rich nations of the Middle East.
Real estate prices almost doubled over the past five years on the sunny island known as a holiday destination, according to Stelios Platis, director of S. Platis Economic Research in Nicosia.
Some investors say the rally may run out of steam, even with joint share trading.
``The bank shares, which dominate the Cyprus Stock Exchange, have had such an excellent year that this kind of growth is unlikely to be repeated,'' said Costas Severis, a board member of Bank of Cyprus, the largest lender on the island.
Cypriot stocks also aren't cheap. The 16 companies that form the main market in Nicosia trade for 15 times earnings, according to Christos Hadjichristodoulou, head of research at CLR Securities and Financial Services in Nicosia. Shares in the Morgan Stanley Capital International Emerging Markets Index are valued at 14 times estimated earnings, according to data compiled by Bloomberg.
The pace of mergers and acquisitions will help determine the strength of stock price increases, Platis said.
Greece's Piraeus Bank SA said in July that it had abandoned a plan to team up with Bank of Cyprus and might sell its 8 percent stake. Piraeus had bought the shares as part of a proposal to cooperate with the Cypriot bank. Bank of Cyprus rebuffed the move.
Real Estate, Tourism
Bank of Cyprus in June made a 4 billion-euro ($5 billion) offer for Emporiki Bank of Greece SA, then withdrew the bid. France's Credit Agricole SA agreed to buy Emporiki.
Still, the Cypriot market offers a chance to invest in industries that are underrepresented in Greece. Real estate and tourism companies are tapping the expanding economies of Russia and Eastern Europe and the consumer and construction boom driven by high oil prices in Arab states.
Louis Plc, a Cypriot cruise-line company that also operates 25 hotels in Greece and Cyprus, this month won a contract to manage a hotel in Egypt, part of the company's strategy to expand in the region. Unigrowth Investments Ltd. said Oct. 24 it plans to set up a unit in Romania for property investments in the country that will join the European Union next year.
Marfin Popular Bank, the lender to be created from Cyprus Popular's buyout of Greece's Marfin Financial Group SA and Egnatia Bank SA, plans to expand in the Mediterranean and the Arab states. With 22.3 billion euros in assets, it will be as big as Bank of Cyprus, which is opening branches in Romania and Russia. Cyprus Popular shareholders this week postponed a decision on the merger.
Ocean Tankers Holdings Plc, the first ocean-going shipping company to sell shares on the Cypriot bourse, will also be the first such shipping firm to trade on the Athens exchange as a result of the common platform.
The link-up ``could lead to more successful listings in the Cypriot market which were lacking an audience,'' said Sterios Souyoutzoglou, country analyst for Greece at UBS AG. ``Some sectors, such as tourism, the Greek market doesn't have enough of.''
To contact the reporter on this story: Maher Chmaytelli in Nicosia at chmaytelli @ bloomberg.net
Last Updated: October 26, 2006 03:40 EDT
Greek Shipping - Job Openings
Job Openings Contact: AMB Consulting Athens, Captain Thorsten Bruhn email@example.com
> Technical Superintendent LPG - Athens - 885 Our client a well established and still growing Greek Ship Management Company seeks for a Technical Superintendent with LPG and; or Product or Chemical Tanker experience with minimum 2 years experience in Technical Superintendence. The ideal candidate should have either sailed as Chief Engineer, 2nd. Engineer or be a graduated Naval Architect and Marine Engineer. Your must be fluent in English and be prepared to travel for Ships Audits, Ship Repairs and vessels Dry Docking. This is a great opportunity to join a 1st. class company with long term prospects and commitments.
> Marine Officer - Coordinator - Athens - 849 Our clients seeks a Marine Officer for their Branch Office in Athens. The ideal candidate should be a University Degree holder in Shipping / Marine Transportation or a master mariner having sailed as Chief Officers or 2nd. Mate on Crude, Product / Chemical Tankers, LPG experience would be an advantage. You must be eager to learn, to move forward, being customer focused, be team oriented and have minimum 2 years shore experience in a similar position. Your English must be excellent. The reward is a competitive package with good career development perspectives in a multicultural environment.
> Marine Superintendent Athens - 848 Our client seeks a Marine Superintendent for their Branch Office in Athens. The ideal candidate should be a master mariner having sailed as a Master or as Chief Officers on Crude, Product / Chemical Tankers, LPG experience would be an advantage. You must have a strong personality, being customer focused, be team oriented and have minimum 5 years shore experience in a similar position. Your English must be excellent. The reward is a competitive package with good career development perspectives in a multicultural environment.
> Chartering Manager Dry - Athens Voula - Ref. 806 Our client is a new established company focusing on sea transportation of cargoes who seek for a highly motivated individual. They maintain a portfolio of clients in various commodity sectors, originating from CIS, South America, China and India. They believe that continuous growth of seaborne cargoes in these regions will be the key to the success of the new venture. The ideal candidate should have minimum 5 years experience in chartering, particularly have good knowledge in handy / handymax and panamax markets and should be familiar with FFA. This is a good opportunity for someone mid 30th late 20th whose career was stuck in a traditional ship owning /brokerage company and who has the drive to achieve a lot by working hardly in a rapidly growing company operating in a high potential markets. Your English must be excellent and Greek would be an advantage, but is not a must. This is a great opportunity with excellent career prospects. Salary will be very competitive based on experience and personality and will include performance based incentive scheme.
> Chartering Broker Dry - Athens Voula - Ref. 877 Our client is a new established company focusing on sea transportation of cargoes who seek for a highly motivated individual. They maintain a portfolio of clients in various commodity sectors, originating from CIS, South America, China and India. They believe that continuous growth of seaborne cargoes in these regions will be the key to the success of the new venture. As Chartering Broker you will be responsible for managing relationship with existing customers and developing relations with new customers. The ideal candidate should have minimum 3 years experience in chartering, particularly have good knowledge in handy / handymax and panamax markets and should be familiar with FFA. This is a good opportunity for someone mid 20th / early 30th who has the drive to achieve a lot by working hardly in a rapidly growing company operating in a high potential markets. Your English must be excellent and Greek would be an advantage, but is not a must. This is a great opportunity with excellent career prospects. Salary will be very competitive based on experience and personality and will include performance based incentive scheme.
> Operations Manager Dry - Athens Voula - Ref. 876 Our client is a new established company focusing on sea transportation of cargoes who seek a highly motivated individual. They maintain a portfolio of clients in various commodity sectors, originating from CIS, South America, China and India. They believe that continuous growth of seaborne cargoes in these regions will be the key to the success of the new venture. You will be responsible for the efficient running of the company's time chartered ships in all aspects and you must be familiar with legal aspects of various operational issues. You should have minimum 5 years experience as an Operations Manager or Operator and be prepared to learn and grow within in the company. Your English must be excellent and Greek would be an advantage. This is a great opportunity with excellent career prospects. Salary will be very competitive based on experience and personality.
> Operator Dry - Athens Voula - Ref. 805 Our client is a new established company focusing on sea transportation of cargoes who seek for a highly motivated individual. They maintain a portfolio of clients in various commodity sectors, originating from CIS, South America, China and India. They believe that continuous growth of seaborne cargoes in these regions will be the key to the success of the new venture. You will be responsible for the efficient running of the company's time chartered ships in all aspects and you must be familiar with legal aspects of various operational issues. You should have minimum 3 years experience as an operator and be prepared to learn and grow within in the company. Your English must be excellent and Greek would be an advantage. This is a great opportunity with excellent career prospects. Salary will be very competitive based on experience and personality.
Source: Captain Thorsten Bruhn, firstname.lastname@example.org, 4 October 2006