Greek Shipping News Cuts
Week 01 - 2006
---By Nigel Lowry in Athens- Friday January 05 2007
GREEK shipowners placed shipbuilding orders worth an unprecedented $16.7bn last year, according to a leading newbuilding broker.
The investment tally compares with $3.7bn worth of orders in 2005 and about $4.9bn of contracts in 2004.
Previous records set in 2003, when the Greek community signed orders for 202 vessels costing $6.9bn, have been comfortably outdistanced.
Of 31 firm ship orders, totalling $1bn, that came to light during the month, 23 and all the options were for bulkers.
The main tanker order last month reported by Moundreas was a series of six chemical tankers booked by Seacrest Shipping at Hyundai Samho Shipyard.
Meanwhile, among Greek companies that placed orders for bulkers were Andriaki Shipping, which ordered four kamsarmaxes at Tsuneishi, and Golden Union Ship-ping, which has ordered four ice-class panamaxes from Jiangsu Rongsheng Heavy Industries.
Source: www.lloydslist.com, Shipbuilding & Repair
Monthly sale and purchase report
By H. Vafias, 4/1/2007
Dry 2nd hand hold
Wet 2nd hand doubles sell
Wet 2nd hand singles sell
Clemko sets its sights on handy game
---A Greek small-bulker player has entered the market for modern units.
Clemko Ship Management is out to carve itself a small slice of the modern-handymax pie a sector it sees as the next playground for small-bulker specialists.
The company has already taken a first step in this direction following an ambitious repair project.
Clemko entered the fray with a damaged vessel in 2005. Shipowner Konstantinos Stasinopoulos recalls the purchase of the 45,000-dwt Golden Wish (built 1997) with unexpected pride as shiprepair was formerly this small Greek company's core business.
The bulker sustained extensive bottom damage when it grounded in August 2004 as the Ken Explorer . A number of other Greek owners walked away from buying the ship as they were not willing to commit to the risk involved in repairing it.
Stasinopoulos recalls that many in Piraeus thought he was crazy for giving it a go.
"Whatever is made of steel can be fixed," he said.
The owner could see the repair possibilities because of his experience in the sector. He dismissed Chinese repair yards as an option because they could not offer the required dry-dock facilities, lacked the expertise he was seeking and were quoting a two-year contract enough to scare off any willing party.
Stasinopoulos decided he would bring the bulker to Piraeus a choice shunned by other owners as too expensive despite the local high concentration of expertise.
The bulker cost Clemko a total of $19m to buy and repair in under one year. The company leased a 500,000-dwt dry-dock slot at Hellenic Shipyards for the project and brought in its own contractor to do the work. After a number of setbacks, including a 30-day dock-workers' strike and two tonnes of sand pouring out of the bottom of the hull, the Tsuneishi Heavy Industries-built vessel is now said to be as good as new.
Stasinopoulos says the unit has been trading since July and is earning around $32,000 per day. He adds that it has a market value of $33m or more.
Clemko has until recent years worked the small-bulker sector and Stasinopoulos sees his move into the modern-handymax segment as a natural progression. He says the class of owners to which he belongs once worked 8,000-dwt units then moved on to bigger sizes through the years until they reached 25,000-dwt units.
But Stasinopoulos says these sizes are slowly fading into extinction and that 45,000-dwt bulkers will be the next "small" ships.
Buying into the sector poses a challenge for Clemko. Prices are currently high ranging at between $33m to $35m, Stasinopoulos says. He expects a drop in asset values before next summer but says that if prices remain high, he will have no option but to take the plunge.
Clemko entered the handymax sector in 2003, just before the market boomed, buying two older bulkers for just under $14m. One of these, the 38,000-dwt Golden Hope (built 1986), was sold on in November.
Prior to that, Clemko only controlled tweendeckers of 18,000 dwt and under.
Stasinopoulos first became an owner in the midst of a bulker crisis in 1981, while he still had a foot planted firmly in the shiprepair business ( see story below ). His debut ship was an 1,800-dwt bulker purchased from now-defunct operator Ellice Marine of Piraeus.
The small unit was subsequently sold but it heralded the formation of Stakomo Shipmanagement by three seafaring partners: Stasinopoulos, Vrettos Komninos and the late Haralambos Moulos.
The company went on to trade two 15,000-dwt bulkers bought from Pateras family-controlled Pabroco Inc. One of these was acquired with damage from an accident and repaired to seaworthy condition.
Stasinopoulos struck out on his own in 1998 as his two partners did not want to join in his plans. Always on the lookout for opportunities, he bought Clemko's first ship, the 18,000-dwt Capetan Haris (built 1977), at auction for $700,000. It was named after Moulos, who died in an accident on board another vessel, and still trades for the company.
In the past year, Clemko has sold five of its ships as part of its fleet-renewal programme for just over $38m. The most recent sale was that of the 42,000-dwt bulker Golden Falcon (built 1985) for $16m to compatriot Libra Shipping. Clemko bought the ship in 2003 for $14m ( see story below ).
The other four units sold were the 38,000-dwt bulker Golden Hope (built 1986), 18,800-dwt bulker Androusa (built 1979), 19,300-dwt bulker Santa Maria (built 1978) and a 1,500-dwt chemical tanker, also called Androusa (built 1964), which went for EUR 265,000 ($340,000).
The chemical tanker was initially intended to be used as a fresh-water facility for the Greek Islands but the project was abandoned after Stasinopoulos encountered bureaucratic difficulties.
Clemko controls one other bulker, the 38,100-dwt Golden Lion (built 1985).
Stasinopoulos says he aims to control a fleet of six bulkers at the most and has no ambitions to move up to the next tier of owners with bigger fleets. He says this number allows him to have direct contact with all the ships and crew and gives him detailed knowledge of each vessel's requirements.
"I have my information from my crew and my own eyes," he said.
By Yiota Gousas, Athens, published: 05 January 2007
Euroseas sells old handysize
---PITTAS family-owned, Marshall Islands-based Euroseas is selling its handysize bulk carrier Ariel for US$5.35m.
The company says that the 1977-built, 33,712 dwt Ariel will be sold for $5.35m, resulting in a capital gain of about $3.4m.
Aristides Pittas, Chairman and CEO of Euroseas commented: "Our strategy of reducing the average age of our fleet continues with the sale of our oldest vessel the M/V "Ariel." Following the sale of the M/V "Ariel" our average fleet age will be reduced to approximately 17 years. As we move into 2007, we will remain committed to expanding our fleet by taking advantage of market opportunities and grow our company by focusing on age and size segments which we believe maximize our return on equity."
Following the sale Euroseas will have a fleet of 8 vessels, including two panamax bulk carriers, one handysize bulk carrier, one intermediate container ship, one handysize container ship, two feeder container ships and a multipurpose dry cargo vessel.
Source: eee.mgn.com, Friday, 05 January 2007
QVT Financial Boosts Its Stake in Top Tankers to 2.4 Million Shares
---05/01/07: In an amended 13D filing on Top Tankers Inc., QVT Financial LP disclosed an 8.4% stake (2.37 million shares) in the company. This is up from the 6.4% (1.8 million share) stake the firm disclosed in a past filing (December).
The firm said an additional 566,164 shares of Common Stock were purchased by the Fund and the Separate Account between December 26, 2006 and December 29, 2006 for approximately $2.7 million.
Meanwhile, Top Tankers is continuing its growth strategy, by recently exercising its option for two additional 50,000 dwt Product / Chemical tankers. As with the previously announced four newbuildings, all the vessels will be sister ships built by SPP Shipbuilding Co, Ltd of South Korea and are expected to be delivered during the first and second quarters of 2009. All six newbuildings will be funded with secured credit lines and working capital.
On the chartering side, the company announced that it has entered into a time-charter contract for the M/T Stormless, a 150,038 DWT double-hull Suezmax tanker, built in 1993 by Mitsui Engineering & Shipbuilding Co. Ltd of Japan.
The vessel is expected to commence the new time-charter by the end of December for a period of three years, at a rate of $36,900 per day. (Source: Seeking Alpha)
Top Picks 2007: Vivian Lewis travels on DryShips
---Each year Steven Halpern, editor of TheStockAdvisors.com, surveys the leading financial newsletter advisors asking for their favorite stocks for the coming year. This article is part of his 24th annual Top Picks Report.
DryShips Inc. (NASDAQ: DRYS) is the top speculative idea for 2007 from Vivian Lewis, editor of Global Investing. She notes, "The company is an operator of a drybulk cargo fleet, and produced no more negative surprises with its unaudited financial and operating results for the third quarter.
"True, there was a net loss of $9.4 million (a loss of 28 cents per share) from Forward Freight Agreement losses previously announced. They were made by the now-fired CFO early in 2006. He disastrously misjudged the drybulk charter rates trend.
"His replacement, Gregory Zikos, a lawyer, MBA, and investment banker, has just been named CFO and to the DRYS board. Meanwhile, Cantor Fitzgerald reiterated a 'buy' on DRYS, forecasting 2006 earnings at $2.24 and 2007 at $2.15, below earlier estimates but with more confidence. Cantor's target is $16.
"Apart from these losses, the rest of the quarter was within the norms of highly leveraged Greek shipping companies, and net income in the quarter would have been 50 cents per share.
"Meanwhile, Dryships' major shareholders (led by George Economou) reinvested the 20 cent per share dividend payment they were scheduled to receive in October, in the amount of about $3.1 million, in DryShips shares. For speculative investors, we consider the stock a strong buy."
Source: http://www.bloggingstocks.com/2006/12/31/top-picks-2007-vivian-lewis-travels-on-dryships, Posted Dec 31st 2006 2:30PM by Steven Halpern, Filed under: Newsletters, Top Picks 2007
Piraeus port workers agree to suspend go-slow action
Management, unions to discuss future plans; April 30 deadline set
By Nikos Bardounias - Kathimerini
---The agreement between the management of Piraeus Port Authority (OLP) and stevedores which ended the latter's eight-week refusal to work overtime and on weekends makes market experts hopeful that a semblance of normality will return to the operations of Greece's biggest commercial port.
The OLP management and dockworkers met yesterday at the Merchant Marine Ministry, with Minister Manolis Kefaloyiannis attending the meeting. They agreed that a dialogue over the privatization of part of the port's services, especially the container terminals, will be conducted until April 30, at the latest. During this period, the government and OLP management are to refrain from any talks with potential buyers. The dockers' unions were meeting late last night to ratify the agreement.
The dockers - denounced a few weeks previously by Kefaloyiannis as privileged and exorbitantly paid - fiercely oppose privatization.
During the eight weeks of go-slow action, OLP lost an estimated -12 million, or -1.5 million per week.
At least 120 ships were either forced to sail away without discharging their cargoes or were redirected to other, mostly foreign, ports, before they reached Piraeus. Compared with normal port activity, there were 120,000 fewer containers handled, a decrease of more than 45 percent. Shipments of 20,000 new cars were also redirected to other ports.
Many other products, especially perishable goods, were not handled in a timely fashion, creating shortages on the market. Export firms were hit especially hard.
However, the biggest blow the Piraeus port took was to its reputation, as several big cargo companies either terminated their business in the port or imposed surcharges due to the increased risks over the past eight weeks. This hurt the port's competitiveness at a time when the government wanted to use Greek ports to attract direct foreign investment.
(Piraeus is among the 10 largest ports in Europe with the most container traffic in the eastern Mediterranean. Two of the port's major customers, Swiss-based Mediterranean Shipping Company SA and Israel's Zim shipping, have both said they would cut back operations at Piraeus because of the labor action.)
Both the OLP management and the dockers' unions have committed themselves to present studies outlining their different strategies for the port's development. The dialogue will also include issues such as maintaining jobs and social security benefits, incentives for early retirement and the participation of employees in the capital of both Piraeus and Thessaloniki port authorities as shareholders by giving out free shares and a combination of tax and other financial incentives.
Zim complains to Greek port over losses
---By PAUL TUGWELL, BLOOMBERG, Jan. 3, 2007 7:44
Zim Integrated Shipping Services Ltd., Israel's largest shipping company, made an "out of court complaint" to Greece's Piraeus Port Authority for losses incurred during a labor dispute.
Piraeus Port Authority management will inform investors of its answer as soon as it has notified Zim, while there is no issue of "non-contractual behavior," the operator of the eastern Mediterranean's largest container port said in a filing to the Athens Exchange Tuesday. Two calls to Zim's Haifa headquarters weren't answered.
Zim is considering legal action against Piraeus Port as a result of the losses, Athens-based newspaper Kathimerini said last week. About 18 of Zim's ships have been forced to turn away from Piraeus because the port can't load and discharge ships as quickly as its contractual practices stipulate, Kathimerini said, without saying where it got the information.
Dock employees at Piraeus have refused to work overtime and weekends since November and are operating at a slower pace on weekdays. They are concerned that they may lose rights and privileges after the planned sale of the country's container operations to private investors.
Greece: Piraeus Port Authoritiy rejects ZIM's allegations
"1. The mentioned cancelled arrivals of your vessels concern a decision solely on your part to deviate from the port of Piraeus. PPA SA can not be made liable for changes in the itineraries of your vessels prompted by decisions taken on your side.
2. According to the Code of Operations, PPA SA is obliged to provide services to port users according to its operational capabilities at any given time and without specific time or productivity standards during the provision of the relative service.
3. The allegations for the so called violation of contractual terms on our side is completely unfounded given the fact that, as you are very well aware of, no such contractual agreement between our companies exists and the service of your vessels is conditioned upon the Code of Operations which applies to all port users.
4. The publication of your extrajudicial protestation by unjustifiably alarming the investors'' community give rise to "moral damages" to PPA SA which is a company listed in the Stock Exchange." Further to the above in the extrajudicial protestation issued by PPA SA it is stated that the action taken by ZIM Integrated Shipping Services ltd does not conform to ordinary business customs. On the contrary it is considered inappropriate as PPA SA and its Management has repeatedly facilitated the aforementioned company in cases of need as was the case during the recent war in the Middle East last July and August when the cargoes of the company could not be serviced by Israeli ports and were adequately serviced in Piraeus.
Source: www.reporter.gr, 15:48 - 05 January 2007
Corinth Canal to open for shipping
---The Corinth Canal, the Greek waterway connecting the Ionian and Aegean Seas will open today after a five-day long ban on shipping, local media reported.
The canal was closed on Sunday, after a landslide reduced its depth to "unsafe" levels, i.e. the waters were too shallow for ships to pass through.
The clearing teams dug out as much as about 5.000 cubic meters of rocks and earth from the seabed over the past several days.
Every year, about 11.000 vessels transit the six-kilometre canal - situated about 80 kilometers west of Athens- avoiding a detour of 250 kilometres around the Peloponnese peninsula.
Source: http://www.makfax.com.mk, Macedonia - Jan 5, 2007, Athens, 08:35