Greek Shipping News Cuts
Week 46 - 2006
---While some segments remain firm, uncertainty for the future starts to take hold, writes David Osler- Monday November 13 2006
WHERE next for secondhand ship prices? The first stirrings of a debate on this question can be heard in the shipping industry.
Some participants at an industry conference last week were reportedly arguing that values have peaked and that discounting could be on the cards shortly.
Broker opinion on this issue seems to agree that there is a note of uncertainty out there.
One report from a leading shop points out that the dry cargo market remains firm.
There have been some strong period fixtures of late, particularly for panamaxes, and there are no signs of falling prices.
But tanker freight markets are essentially flat, which appears to be curbing offers from potential buyers, it goes on.
As the comments above suggest, the dry sector has seen plenty of activity.
Greek and Chinese owners in particular have been in search of vessels in all smaller and medium size brackets.
Greek S&P specialist Allied Shipbroking reports receiving 100 enquires in October, with 38 after modern vessels and 62 seeking older ones.
There are differening reports on what has happened to Red Tulip (76,629 dwt, built 2003). Some brokers have it changing hands at $48m, while others believe the owners are holding out for $49m.
The 71,000 dwt APJ Suryavir, built 1990, went to undisclosed buyers at $25.5m, substantially up on last done.
Meadway has done well out of its brief ownership of Delvina (53,688 dwt, built 2006), which it purchased in August for $38.5m.
The unit has been sold on to another Greek concern at $43m.
Allseas paid $42m for the 2000 year of build panamax Restless, of 72,561 dwt.
Sellers Sea Justice paid just $33m for the ship in March this year.
Greek-controlled handymax Antoine (42,469 dwt, built 1990) is reportedly on subs to Chinese buyers at $22m. This is another example of nifty asset play. Sellers Chekka acquired the unit at just $15.5m in 2004.
General cargoships changing hands include Seamaji (7,018 dwt, built 1986), acquired by undisclosed interests at $2.4m, and Timber Trader V (6,901 dwt, built 1989), which also went to undisclosed buyers, at $4.2m.
By contrast, the wet sector has been somewhat quieter, with the accent on quality modern tonnage.
Making up the package were Baltic Ambassador and Baltic Action, of 37,371 dwt and 37,467 dwt respectively. The prices are in line with recent sales.
The 1993 VLCC, Savoie, has gone to China at $90m. The vessel is of 306,430 dwt.
IMS of Greece paid $13.5m for Black Point (46,825 dwt, built 1986).
Spring Zephyr (1,230 dwt, built 1992) secured $2.7m from Korean buyers.
Hansen & Lange have secured the boxship Filippa (1.158 teu, built 1991) for $14m, on terms that include a 12-month charter to K Line
Source: www.lloydslist.com, Sales & Purchase
Lack of incentives turns Greek shipowners away from investment
---By Nikos Bardounias - Kathimerini 20 Nov 2006
Cutting red tape and providing investment incentives could attract a large part, if not all, of the available capital in the hands of Greek shipowners, which is estimated at $200 billion.
The General Secretariat for Competitiveness had recently proposed three measures that could attract more shipping-sector investment.
First, the creation of a shipping center in Piraeus that would, along with the second measure, the deregulation of the market, convince more Greek-owned (but also foreign-owned) shipping firms to move their headquarters to Greece. Third would be creating a cluster of services that would be internationally competitive and operated by highly specialized personnel.
Shipowners also ask for an upgrade of merchant marine officer training, the subsidizing of unprofitable domestic shipping lines and, from the Greek banks, financing on better terms. They demand that all Greek ports be available as terminals for cruise ships, after upgrading terminal infrastructure, including passenger terminals. They also support the privatization of port services, which port employees vehemently oppose.
Source: Kathimerini 20 Nov 2006
Syria and Greece to Widen Scale of Transport Cooperation
---Thursday, November 16, 2006 - 07:45 PM
DAMASCUS, (SANA) - Syria underlined on Thursday keenness on widening scope of standing cooperation with Greece in field of transportation in the two countries interests.
Minister of Transportation Yaroub Badr held talks today with the Greek ambassador in Damascus over boosting ties of cooperation and activating accords signed between the two countries in various fields of transportation.
The minister noted importance of the inked agreements in developing the maritime transportation and boosting trade exchange as well as reinvigorating the tourism movement .
For her part, the Greek ambassador announced that a group of Greek technicians and specialists would soon be invited to Syria to pursue all issues related to the singed agreements with the aim of translating them on the ground as quick and possible.
Stelios Sarris, president of the Union of Coastal Passengership Owners, called on the ministers present, Manolis Kefaloyiannis, Marine, and Aristotelis Pavlidis, Aegean and Island Policy, to promote the "full liberalisation" of the sector so that the "development of passenger shipping will benefit passengers".
Kefaloyiannis said "full liberalisation" is the goal of the government. He said discussions with the European Union regarding subsidising the building of passenger ships are presently going on with the focus on ways of subsidising construction of the hotel section of the ship with the view to applying the same conditions as those applied in the hotel industry.
Elefsis president, Nicos Tavoularis, described the day as "extremely significant" marking 20 years since a commercial ship was launched at the yard. He also noted it was the second commercial ship to be delivered in recent times, following the Nissos Mykonos, a sister ship delivered last year to the same operator by neighbouring Hellenic Shipyards.
Passenger ships can and should be built in Greek shipyards," declared Tavoularis. He said Greece was left behind because "it wanted the rules of international shipbuilding to be shaped for it, rather than Greece adapting to them".
"However, the Greek shipbuilding industry has shown it has a strong will and the target of the yards is to contribute to the development of the passenger ship fleet," said Tavoularis.
The Nissos Hios is 141mtr long, can carry 1,800 passengers, 320 cars or 45 trucks and 130 cars and has a service speed of 26.2 knots. Like the Nissos Mykonos, the ferry will comply with Italian classification society RINA's 'Green Star' award, the voluntary standard of excellence in environmental protection for ships.
Source: 17 November 2006, www.newsfront.gr, Vol. 7 / No. 43
Vafias looks to the Middle East
---Harry Vafias ison the hunt for cash for his latest shipping venture.
Harry Vafias is targeting the Middle East to raise money on his latest shipping venture, Stealth Petroleum.
The owner also has plans for a dual listing of the company on a European stock exchange and one in the Middle East.
Stealth Petroleum has appointed Bahrain company Global Union Energy Ventures as its exclusive financial adviser in the Middle East and Vafias says a small chunk of the company will be sold. Far East markets could also be approached but Vafias says the main focus will be in the Middle East.
"If the reaction is good and there is an appetite for a relatively low-risk shipping project, then we will try to float the company," he said.
If there is less enthusiasm but some people are interested, Vafias says the game plan will be to make some strategic partnerships in order to grow the company.
Stealth Petroleum, established during the summer, currently controls four crude-oil tankers, whichVafias declined to name. However, within the Vafias group's listed fleet the four 105,000-dwt tankers Nord Stealth (built 2001) and Primo Stealth and CV Stealth (built 2005) and CS Stealth (built 2006) would appear to fit the bill.
The company's non-executive chairman is Roger Withers, who also sits on the board of a number of UK-listed companies. Board members include ex-Deloitte Touche executive Markos Drakos and former Chandris group employee Commander Bruce Trentham.
In early September, Vafias declined to comment on suggestions he might be taking a new company to the London Alternative Investment Market (AIM). He now confirms that plans to float on AIM did not work out.
Vafias says the UK capital markets are saturated and that UK investors do not know shipping well.
"There are only two shipping companies listed in the UK and their performance has not made investors happy. Unfortunately for us they [the investors]do not have the expertise to differentiate," Vafias said.
Sources in Bahrain say the offering will be a $100m deal but Vafias comments "it might be more, it might be less", depending on investors' appetite.
Stealth Petroleum is the fifth company the energetic 27-year-old Vafias has founded. In 1999, he established Stealth Maritime, which today manages one VLCC and the four aframax tankers and handles the commercial management of Nasdaq-listed Stealthgas's fleet of LPG carriers.
Brave Bulk Transport, headquartered in Australia, was founded in 2003. Last year, the majority of the company was sold to Middle East interests.
Stealthgas, Vafias's third shipping venture, was founded in 2004 and listed on the Nasdaq in October 2005. It now controls a fleet of 28 LPG carriers ranging from 1,600 cbm to 7,500 cbm with an average age of 10.8 years, giving the company number-one ranking in owned vessels in the 3,000-cbm to 8,000-cbm segment.
Vafias points out it is the only listed company to have trebled its fleet in the space of just nine months.
Stealthgas's second-half profits increased by 64% on the previous year thanks to its larger fleet. It is due to release third-quarter earnings on 21 November.
The fifth oufit set up by Vafias, Estates Corp, is involved in real estate.
By Gillian Whittaker, Athens, published: 17 November 2006
FreeSeas Inc. Reports Third Quarter and Nine-Month 2006 Results
---November 14, 2006 Piraeus, Greece, -FreeSeas Inc. (NASDAQ: FREE, FREEW and FREEZ), a provider of seaborne transportation for dry bulk cargoes, announced today unaudited operating results for the three and nine months ended September 30, 2006. The Company was incorporated on April 23, 2004 and became public on December 16, 2005.
Third Quarter 2006:
For the three month period ended September 30, 2006, the Company reported operating revenues of $3,571,977 and a net loss of ($3,242) or $(0.0005) per share based on 6,290,100 shares outstanding during the period, as compared to operating revenues of $2,748,381 and a net loss of ($487,205) during the comparable period in 2005. Excluding non-cash compensation costs of ($216,303), net income for the third quarter of 2006 would have been $213,061 or $0.03 per share.
Operating income for the third quarter of 2006 was $262,454 compared to an operating loss of ($197,234) for the comparable period in 2005. Excluding non-cash compensation costs of ($216,303), operating income for the third quarter of 2006 would have been $478,757 compared to an operating loss of ($197,234) for the comparable period in 2005. EBITDA, adjusted for certain non-cash compensation expenses, for the third quarter of 2006 was $1,719,463 compared to $1,228,188 for the third quarter of 2005. A reconciliation of adjusted EBITDA to net income is provided below.
An average of three vessels were owned and operated during the third quarter of 2006 and 2005, earning an average Time Charter Equivalent (?TCE?) rate of $13,845 per day during this period compared to an average of $ $10,255 per day during the same period last year. During the first and second quarters of 2006, our vessels earned an average daily TCE rate of $5,862 and $9,984, respectively.
Nine Months 2006:
For the nine month period ended September 30, 2006, the Company reported operating revenues of $8,758,660 and a net loss of ($2,380,429) or ($0.38) per share based on 6,290,100 shares outstanding during the period, as compared to operating revenues of $7,196,630 and a net loss of ($31,356) during the comparable period in 2005. Excluding non-cash compensation costs of ($648,908) the net loss for the nine months ended September 30, 2006 would have been ($1,731,521) or ($0.28) per share.
Operating income for the nine months ended September 30, 2006 was ($1,466,164) compared to an operating income of $690,114 for the comparable period in 2005. Excluding non-cash compensation costs of ($648,908) the operating income for the nine months ended September 30, 2006 would have been ($817,256) compared to an operating income of $690,114 for the comparable period in 2005. EBITDA, adjusted for certain non-cash compensation expenses, for the nine months ended September 30, 2006 was $2,858,882 compared to $3,549,163 for same period in 2005. A reconciliation of adjusted EBITDA to net income is provided below.
George D. Gourdomichalis, Chairman and President of FreeSeas stated: "We are pleased to see that market conditions continued to improve during the third quarter of 2006. As we stated previously, the fact that we have been primarily focused on the spot market enabled us to reap the benefits of this stronger market. Our average daily TCE rate per vessel increased to $13,845 in the third quarter of 2006 from $9,984 in the second quarter of 2006 and $5,852 in the first quarter of 2006. Furthermore, taking advantage of the strong market conditions, we entered a portion of our fleet under period employment covering 100% of our available fleet days for the remainder of 2006 and approximately 66% of our available fleet days for the first quarter of 2007. Also, our M/V Free Fighter is now undergoing her regularly scheduled Fifth Special & Docking Surveys, which will enable her to trade for another three years without any major class survey requirements. We believe the market has the momentum to remain at attractive levels into 2007 and the supply demand equilibrium looks favorable for the foreseeable future. "
Ion G. Varouxakis, Chief Executive Officer and Secretary of FreeSeas commented further: "In the third quarter of 2006, our company started taking full advantage of the strong dry bulk rates for period employment and we expect this trend to continue."
Efstathios D. Gourdomichalis, Chief Financial Officer and Treasurer of FreeSeas commented: "Our general and administrative expenses are higher than the comparable period of 2005 as our listing on NASDAQ was completed in December 2005 driving our general and administrative expenses upwards; these are mainly mandatory and required audit, legal and other fees and expenses related to our status as a listed company. Commissions paid are also higher as they are proportional to the increased Operating Revenue. We are now focusing on creating economies of scale for our general and administrative expenses through the acquisition of further vessels. Finally, we refinanced the loan of the M/V Free Fighter through a new and expanded facility at better terms. We plan to draw on the available funds under this facility to fully settle the $2 million bank overdraft and to cover part of the M/V Free Fighter?s Special and Dry-Docking Surveys costs in December 2006."
Source: Press Release, www.freeseas.gr
Polembros of Adamantios Polemis joins newbuilding spree
---17/11/06: After a long period of patience and cautious planning, Polembros Shipmanagement, the company managed by Adamantios Polemis, one of the most prominent member of the shipping industry of Hellas, was reported making its move in the newbuilding market. According to the latest report by Allied Shipbroking, Polembros placed an order, to Hudong Zhonghua Shipyard for the delivery of four (4) crude carriers each having a carrying capacity of 105,000 dwt. All of the ships are scheduled for delivery in 2009. The estimated price of the deal was of $60 million for each, bringing the total amount at $240 million.
This move marks the significant fleet renewal effort made by the management of the company, which currently owns and operates a fleet of about 20 vessels. Most of them are over 20 years old and the company has been selling several of them for scrapping, since the beginning of last year. The Polemis family had devised a broad shipbuilding program of about 20 ships, which was never implemented, due to an alleged malpractice by JP Morgan Chase, the investment bank in charge of asset management for the family. The two sides ended up in courts, since the Polemis family sued JP Morgan Chase for the loss of at least $500 million dollars. (Source: Nikos Skenderoglou, Hellenic Shipping News)
Excel falls on lower capacity
Source: Fairplay Daily News, 14 Nov 2006
Port workers strike against terminal concession plan
Greece Is The Word!
---November 16: Only a week or two ago, newly-formed Monarch Classic Cruises officially announced its 2007 schedule of 3, 4 and 7 day Aegean cruises featuring the beautiful, 1955-built, 16,000 gt OCEAN MONARCH (ex PORT SYDNEY, AKROTIRI EXPRESS, DAPHNE, SWITZERLAND, OCEAN ODYSSEY) and 1966-built, 11,724 gt BLUE MONARCH (ex RENAISSANCE, HOMERIC RENAISSANCE, WORLD RENAISSANCE, AWANI DREAM, GRAND VICTORIA). Go to www.mccruises.gr for more details.
Further delightful news from Greece has it that Louis Cruise Line's 12,609 gt, 1957-built IVORY (ex AUSONIA) will become AEGEAN II for Golden Star Cruises, which will also be reviving their 11,563 gt, 1986-built AEGEAN I (ex NARCIS, AEGEAN DOLPHIN) for three and four day Greek Islands cruises from Piraeus. For more details, please go to www.goldenstarcruises.com.
Greek Islands for Sale! Super-Rich Only Need Apply
---11/11/2006 (Balkanalysis.com), By Ioannis Michaletos
The first islet to be sold was that of Drimos. British real estate developers bought this beautiful little islet, situated in the center of the Cycladic island complex. It has a surface area of 3 sqkm, and the reputed price was 4, 2 million euros. Another recent sale was the Kythro islet, located near Lefkada in the Ionian Sea. A Greek investor bought this for over 2.5 million euros, and now he has some 0.8 sqkm of private land to play with, along with some of the most pristine and inviting beaches in the Mediterranean Sea.
1. Parapola. This little islet is located close to Spetsopoula off Spetses. Spetsopoula is privately owned by the Niarchos family and it is rather close to the Peloponnesian coast. In Parapola, the prospective buyer will acquire as well its lighthouse, dating from the late 19th century. Moreover, the waters nearby the islands are abundant in fish, and the tranquility of the place during winter represents a really once-in-a-lifetime opportunity. According to rumors the asking price for this tiny dot of land in the Greek sea is almost 10 million Euros.
3. Velopoula. This 2-sqkm-island is located right in the middle of the route from Piraeus to Crete, in the heart of the open Aegean. It is far away from any other island and it represents thus a sort of a piece of land in the wilderness of the sea. There are no estimates regarding the asking price for Velopoula, but it must be quite expensive, judging from the size of the island and the exclusiveness it can offer to anyone interested.
4. Echinades islet complex. These 5 islets for sale offer a total surface of 1.6 sqkm. Situated in the Ionian Sea just a few miles from the western shores of Greece, the scenery is majestic, with an abundance of wildlife and the potential for constructing a series of houses throughout the complex, for every occasion and preference. The likely price for the Echinades complex stands well above the 10 million euro mark.
6. Kardiotissa. Near to the southern Aegean isle of Folegandros, this small islet of just 1 sqkm surface area is up for sale. The distance from the main island is only 2 nautical miles and the environment is characterized by the typical Aegean rocky outlook. It could prove to difficult to make habitable, but should an owner invest in solar and wind energy facilities, he will be able to meet all his daily needs and at the same time be able to relax and enjoy life in a paradise setting.
7. Skyropoula. Across from Skyros island, its smaller counterpart Skyropoula is awaiting prospective buyers. With a total surface area of 4 sqkm, it offers an environment of tranquility for the international jet-set and their friends. According to recent information, the wealthy family Hajoannou from Cyprus is willing to spend some 8 million euros in order to get a hold of this island.
9. Arkoudi. Close to Lefkada in the Ionian Sea there is another island for sale. Arkoudi has a surface area of 4.5 sqkm and is strategically located between the major Ionian islands of Kefallonia, Lefcada and Ithaki. There are plans for an overall 90-million-euro investment that mainly would involve the creation of golf courses along with the appropriate tourism facilities.
10. Alatas. Finally, this beautiful islet inside the Pagasitic Bay and close to the port of Volos in central Greece has a surface area of 0.5 sqkm. The Cypriot company United Five Development wants to buy the island and proceed to an overall 50-million-euro investment over the coming years. This would include the creation of a hotel with 900 beds along with a music hall and restaurants.
The issue of selling islands and islets in Greece has received both positive and negative attention within the country. The attraction of foreign investments and the creation of jobs is a major factor that calls for the sell-out of some bits of Greek land for the good of the economy.
For instance, a few months ago the Greek police uncovered the largest known international network of illegal antiquities in a remote Greek island. A large part of the ancient artifacts was hidden inside a mansion belonging to a wealthy Greek family of the international jet-set that was actually stashing treasures to be sent all across the globe. The remoteness of the island was a crucial factor for this network to nurture itself over the past 30 years virtually untouched. Such a national tragedy could easily be conducted on some of these islands currently for sale, if sold to the wrong people.