Greek Shipping News Cuts
Week 04 - 2007

 

One hundred more ships set to climb aboard the Greek register

---NIKOS BARDOUNIAS
The Greek commercial fleet will soon expand by up to 100 ships, according to the Merchant Marine Ministry, as a result of measures announced a few months ago by Minister Manolis Kefaloyiannis to bolster the competitiveness of the national register.
The ministry has made a significant step forward by overcoming certain inhibitions of the past and adopting two measures that, so far, seem to have made the difference: First, it decided to proceed with a more flexible approach to the composition of crews for oceangoing ships. It ruled that the limit on the number of Greeks should be six, including all officers and crew. Second, the social insurance contributions of Greek seamen serving as low-level crew is to be subsidized. However, if a shipping company decides to have more than six Greek seamen and they are low-level crew, then the state, as an incentive, will subsidize the contributions not only of seamen but also of shipowners.
He also noted that within 2007 a number of reforms that are already under way will be completed, such as the measures for coastal shipping and for cruising as well as initiatives for the strengthening of the competitiveness of the national register.
Source: 24 Jan 2007, http://www.ekathimerini.com/4dcgi/news/content.asp?aid=79359


Greek ports see chance to be a hub for China
---Chinese shipping line Cosco is frontrunner in plans to treble the capacity of Piraeus and Thessaloniki, writes Kerin Hope
The small container terminal at Piraeus port operates close to full capacity, with ships queuing offshore for a berth and ageing gantry cranes working around the clock. While Greek imports soar and transit trade with the new European Union member states of Bulgaria and Romania shows a steady increase, the terminal's Euros 450m (Dollars 583m, Pounds 296m) expansion plan lags several years behind schedule. The arrival of a Chinese investor, however, could accelerate the transformation of both Piraeus and the under-used northern Greek port of Thessaloniki. Cosco, China's state-owned container shipping line, wants to make Greece its hub for trade with the east Mediterranean, the Balkans and the Black Sea countries, according to George Alogoskoufis, Greek finance -minister. Goods transported from Asia on large container ships would be off-loaded at Greek ports to smaller -vessels plying coastal routes in north Africa and the Black Sea. "We have an unprecedented opportunity," Mr Alogoskoufis said in a -Financial Times interview. "China wants direct access to ports in the region, while our facilities have plenty of room for expansion." Cosco has already discussed with Greek officials several co-operation proposals. These range from taking an equity stake in Piraeus Port Authority (OLP), the state-controlled port operator, to managing several Greek ports under a long-term contract or allowing Cosco exclusive ownership of a new container terminal. However, the government balked at transferring control of Greece's biggest port to a state-owned foreign company. It plans to seek a strategic partner to build and operate new container terminals at Piraeus and Thessaloniki, under a 15 to 20-year concession. Mr Alogoskoufis said both port operators would launch international tenders in the first half of this year, with the aim of completing a deal by December. "It won't be an exclusive arrangement - other container companies would be able to use the facilities," he said. Container capacity at both ports would be tripled, to 4.5m TEUs (20ft equivalent units) yearly at Piraeus and 3.5m at Thessaloniki, for a total investment, together with new equipment and machinery, of about Euros 750m. While Cosco is seen as the front-runner, China Shipping, another state-owned container line, Hutchison Ports, the Hong Kong-based operator, and DP World, which is owned by the Gulf state of Dubai, are also prospective bidders. Greece's shipping sector has close ties with both Cosco and China Shipping through charters of Greek-owned vessels, mainly tankers and bulk carriers that transport more than 80 per cent of China's imports of fuel and raw materials, but also container ships. "These relationships go back a long way, but they've grown much stronger as China's economy took off," said Costas Constantacopoulos, managing director of Costamare, a Greek shipping company that has a dozen large container ships on charter with Cosco. Ties with China are also being consolidated through increasing numbers of orders for ships placed by Greek owners with state-owned and private Chinese yards. About 100 ships, worth about Dollars 5bn, are under construction, according to Greek brokers.
Financial Times 20.01.2007, Page 4, USA Ed1
Source: http://www.emissionshaus.com/kc/deutsch/news/pressespiegel.db?item=20630&nlstats=#8220#178#497


Labour unrest not the only problem facing Piraeus
---TIMES have been extremely testing for Piraeus, and there is little sign that this is likely to abate in the near future as it struggles to deal with labour unrest at privatisation plans and the partial loss of its largest customer.
The silver lining for the port is that Chinese carrier Cosco remains keen on participating on the privatisation, and when the facilities eventually come to tender there is likely to be no shortage of bidders.
The new pier will be 600 m in length and have a yard area of 180,000 sq m and will add another 1m teu to annual port capacity.
A rail connection to the container terminal is also being constructed and will be completed this year.
Source: www.lloydslist.com, Friday 26 January 2007


Salthouse: Greek concerns about IG P&I Clubs are just 'myths'
---Very little was likely to happen within the P&I sector after the International Group (IG) pooling agreement's current 10-year exemption from EC anti-cartel laws came to an end in 2009, says Mike Salthouse, director, North of England P&I club.
"As long as the International Group agreement and the P&I market remains generally as described in the European Commission's 1999 exemption decision, the agreement will continue to benefit from the provisions of article 81(3) of the EC Treaty,' Salthouse told his audience. He said three 'myths' about the IG often surface in the Greek shipping community as a basis to challenge the EC exemption.
The suggestion the IG was discriminatory for its "one size fits all" approach to minimum levels of cover, he pointed out the EC had fully endorsed the need for common policy conditions and minimum cover levels as essential requirements for any successful pooling arrangement. As such their advantages far outweighed any disadvantages associated with individual shipowners not being able to purchase tailor-made cover.
Source: www.newsfront.gr, 26 January 2007


$0.25M payout for pipe-blower
Source: www.fairplay.co.uk, Daily News 25 Jan 2007


Are You Being Served?
It is important to shine a bright light though on those details from time to time. Fortunately these days there are enough public sources of good information to not only enable a fresh airing of some of the old questions but also to generate others, which can only be good.
Mr. George Economou is one of a few shipowners who runs a public entity, DryShips, while retaining a private fleet. In addition, his privately controlled ship management company, Cardiff Marine Inc., manages the vessels in both the public and private fleets as shown in the charts that accompany this article.
[ on page 7 in the Marine Money Freshly Minted, Thursday, January 25, 2007]
Presumably, the focus was generally on the conflict arising from vessel employment opportunities. However, we thought that we would take a look at this issue from the perspective of fleet operations particularly in light of the substantial newbuilding program, which is taking place in the private fleet.
However, in terms of vessels aged 15 years or older, the private fleet has 16 vessels while the DryShips fleet has only six, which represents 62% and 18% of their respective fleets. The private fleet will be extensively renewed assuming all the newbuildings end up in that fleet. Although we could find no mention of levels of staffing at Cardiff, we would note that logically vessels 15 years and older require more maintenance and extensive drydockings than younger vessels. In addition, the newbuildings, many of which are being constructed in China, also require close supervision. Given these facts it would be fair to presume that the private fleet will require closer attention in the near term. Nevertheless depending on market conditions, Mr. Economou, a renowned asset trader, may sell some of the newbuildings, some of which may end up in DryShips.
Source: www.marinemoney.com, Marine Money Freshly Minted, Thursday, January 25, 2007


Greek firm keen to charter LNG vessels - Qatar
Although here, companies like Qatargas and Nakilat are buying and investing in their own vessels, there is plenty of room for charters to be involved. Vlad Jadro, Chief Marine Officer of Tsakos Energy Navigation (TEN), which is managed out of Athens, said: "We are talking to some firms here in Qatar but cannot disclose the nature of the negotiations. But there is always the probability we will be providing carriers to companies here."
He refuted claims that the oil tanker industry is closely linked to oil prices. "Oil has to be moved, regardless of oil prices. Distances and everything else remain the same. We do not see things differently based on oil prices," said Jadro. TEN's owners are also thinking of moving into the LNG carrier business in a bigger way, he added, which may also include the possibility of entering into joint ventures with bigger players in the industry.
Greece has always had a long-standing attachment to the shipping industry, with big names like Aristotle Onassis and Stavros Niarchos among the first that spring to mind when speaking of shipping magnates. "We have been associated with shipping for centuries. It is just a part of our tradition," said Jadro.
TEN owns a fleet of modern tankers providing worldwide marine transportation services to oil majors and refineries on charter basis. As of May last year, the firm owns and operates a diversified fleet of 37 tankers, comprising of 4.1m dwt with an average age of 6.5 years.
The world's tanker tonnage average is around 11.5 years. Since May, the company, which is listed on the New York Stock Exchange, managed out of Athens and incorporated in Bermuda, has added or will be will be adding a further 14 vessels until 2008. The addition of the new vessels will also help make the company one of the world's largest independent ice-class operators.
Ice-class ships have a different hull and are made of stronger steel, with equally stronger propulsion systems which allows the vessel to steer through icy waters.
Source: The Peninsula - 24/01/2007, http://www.menafn.com/qn_news_story_s.asp?StoryId=1093140238


Danaos to invest $177 mln in a New Trading Centre in Sofia
---Greek shipping company Danaos Group will invest 266 million levs ($177 million) over the next three years in a trading centre in Sofia, the Bulgarian investment agency said on Wednesday.
The company, through its Bulgarian subsidiary Danaos Development, is planning to build shops, restaurants, cinemas and offices in the planned three-floor building.
The centre will employ some 1,000 people after it is finalised and another 360 during construction, the agency said.
EU newcomer Bulgaria has attracted a spate of foreign investment in real estate and new shopping malls over the last year and sees foreign direct investment rising to almost 5 billion euros this year, from a record 4 billion last year.
Source: http://international.ibox.bg/news/id_691780622, Updated on: 24.01.2007, 16:40, Published on: 24.01.2007, 16:32, Author: Dimitar Tabakov


Star Bulk fleet set to expand
---The Star Bulk Carriers Corp fleet could rapidly become larger than the eight ships it said last week it is buying from Taiwan Maritime Transport (TMT).
Oceanbulk of Greece is said to have bought the 158,000-dwt bulker Martha Verity (built 1995) for $60m. Oceanbulk is headed up by Star co-chairman Petros Pappas, while Star chief executive Akis (Prokopios) Tsirigakis is its managing director.
Oceanbulk group company Combine Marine has also emerged as buyer of the 53,000-dwt Serenity I (built 2006), which was sold as the Delvina by fellow Greek operator Meadway last November for $43m. The deal included a time charter for 23 to 29 months at $24,750 per day.
The profile of the two vessels would fit well with those Star is committing $345.2m to buy from TMT. They are the 165,000-dwt B Duckling (built 1993) and A Duckling (built 1992), 78,000-dwt combination carrier (OBO) Mommy Duckling (built 1983) and the 52,000-dwt to 53,000-dwt J Duckling and I Duckling (both built 2003), C Duckling (built 2002), G Duckling (built 2001) and F Duckling (built 2003).
Star will pay between $40.9m and $43.9m for each of the five supramaxes, some $60m each for the two capesizes and $12.7m for the panamax.
The merger of Star Bulk with Amex-listed Star Maritime Acquisition Corp, as well as the acquisitions from TMT, are subject to shareholder approval. A vote is expected at Star Maritime's annual general meeting in March.
Source: www.tradewinds.no, Gillian Whittaker, Athens, published: 26 January 2007


New York-listed Hellenic shipping CEOs navigates through the dry bulk market
---The dry market development going forward in 2007, the current situation on the supply and demand side, vessel operations and fleet expansion possibilities were among the topics discussed in the 2nd Virtual Dry Bulk Forum, which was held last week. Organized by Capital Link in cooperation with Nasdaq, the Forum involved the participation of CEOs George Economou of DryShips, Christopher Georgakis of Excel Maritime, Stamatis Molaris of Quintana Maritime and Joseph Royce of TBS International.
DRY BULK MARKET TRENDS 2006-2007
George Economou: Basically, what has happened since the summer or in the fall, as you put it is the continuation of what happened in the summer. We had an increased demand for transportation of all the commodities. Iron ore has probably ended up being up 7.5% in '06 versus '05 but it is the same product that kept on moving, which is the steel product and the cement well into the end of '06. What is interesting is that in the last month and a half, congestion has been building up mostly in Australia, but also in other parts of the world and because we are talking about many ports even a one or two days delay, do help in increasing the demand. So again, it is the general increase in the commodities, iron ore which is again contributed mostly to China steel products and cement and the congestion.
Christopher Georgakis: The market has been robust also in 2007 and the Baltic Dry Index opened for the year on the 2nd January at about 4,421 points and it closed yesterday at about 1.5% higher. If we look at the sub-indices and in particular the average of a four time charter routes for individual vessel classes, we'll see that the capesize index closed yesterday 3% higher from its opening level on the 2nd January and the panamax and supramax indices closed at approximately 1% and 1.4% higher than their opening levels on the 2nd January.
This indicates that the capesize class has performed marginally better than both the panamax and the supramax class. In my view that isn't really surprising. As for the past three and half years, I think the shipping markets have been responding to a massive expansion of the annual trade, which clearly have far outpaced the growth of the capesize fleet and in my view, this is a cape-led, cape-driven market. The underlying factors that support the market today are the same factors that kept the market firm during the second half of 2006.
?n mid-June there was a turnaround in the market, it was a very considerable turnaround. Charters realised that what had been deteriorating capesize fundamentals during the first half of the year, had bottomed-out, various operational bottlenecks at major iron ore production facilities that had kept back iron ore exports were resolved, and as a result of that there was a rush from charters and cargo interests to cover primarily short positions and derivatives market and the FFAs market, and also a rush to secure long positions in the physical market. And as a result of that during the third quarter of 2006 we had the largest number of period fixtures ever recorded in the history of shipping. There were approximately 155 fixtures recorded and that has led naturally to a long term optimism in the market place, and a belief that dry bulk fundamentals are very solid and that they are likely to last for some time.
VESSEL PRICES Vs FREIGHT RATES
Stamatis Molaris: I'd have to say undoubtedly the surge in the freight environment since May/June 2006 has been followed by a sharp increase of secondhand and new building prices for all classes of ships in the dry bulk market. The main beneficiary has been the cape sector with panamaxes, I think following. Just to give some sort of examples for the participants, to understand the increases in the prices. The asset prices for the five year old capes currently exceeds $83 million, with similar age panamaxes close to $48 million. A year ago similar age and type capes and panamaxes were valued close to $58 million, $36 million respectively. So there's been a huge increase in the prices. Equally new building prices have also strengthened during the same period with capes and panamaxes currently being ordered with delivery for 2010, in excess of $70 million and $42 million for panamaxes. And you can compare that with $60 million and $32 million almost exactly a year ago.
New building activity for the first month of 2007 is dominated by the dry bulk sector, with many owners willing to commit to contracts with delivery 2010 and beyond. It is quite apparent for me that the confidence in the dry bulk sector has been restored and it's quite evident in the prices of buyers of quality tonnage, I have to emphasise, are willing to pay. The confidence is further enhanced by charterers' willingness to fix this type of assets to log periods at very, very healthy rates. This is particularly true in the capesize sector with many five and three year deals already concluded in the market.
FREIGHT RATES LEVELS
Joseph Royce: Do today's freight rates allow for profitable operation? If you're a ship owner the answer to that is yes. If you, for example, if you operate a ship then for example we can use, depending upon the size of the ship, anywhere from $5,000 a day up to $7,000 a day and you're earning anywhere from 20, 30, 40, $50,000 a day on - either on time-charter equivalents for periods depending upon your size of your ships or for single trips, you're throwing off tremendous amounts of cash. So for being an owner today, we are in a very, very good position. But on the other side of that coin, if you're an operator and that's somebody that time charters these ships, they have a big struggle at these levels to make profits because today most owners do not discount their ships based on the spot market.
SUPPLY SIDE-ORDERBOOK
George Economou: Basically the order book today for the dry bulk carriers as it stands is much lower than it has been for the last three years, and people may recall that the order book has been of the order of 6% to 7.5% during the year '04, 05 and 06. As it looks right now, the order book is about 5.3% for '07, 4.7% for '08 and 3.6% for '09, and I'm only referring to the first three years because there is no berth, available berth capacity to build ships that will be delivered before the end of '09. There are some berths for '10, a lot for 2011. People talk about hidden berths, mostly in Japan and these are mostly on the smaller size and they're not that many. So the order book as compared to the past, as compared to the existing fleets looks fairly good, and don't forget that demand has been growing this year at 5%, maybe a little more - projected to be 5% for the foreseeable future so there's a good balance between the vessels that come on stream the next three years and the demand not even take into consideration that there will be some deletions.
The average age is about twelve years old, and the cape fleet seems to be fairly young at ten years because a lot of capes have been built the last few years; the panamaxes is around eleven years; the handy and handymax vessels are the oldest because they weren't that many capes when the handy and handymax were being built, at 17 years, and obviously the lowest age of brackets supramaxes because it's a new design, so the average age is thereabout five years.
VESSEL TYPE PERFORMANCE COMPARISON
Christopher Georgakis: I think I'll draw a very quick comparison on earnings and EBITDA multiples for each vessel type and then perhaps try and move on and compare things such as the order book, the age profile, sector volatility and so on. If you take the average value of a 5 year old cape, panamax and supramax vessel, today that is in the region of 83 million for a cape, 47 or so for a panamax and 43 for a supramax. Assuming that you want to charter these vessels out for a couple of years or so, a cape would go in today's market for about $57,000 or so a day for two years, a panamax for 26,500 and a supramax for 25,500. These vessels in turn would give you an annual return of about 22% for a capesize, 16% for a panamax and about 17% or so for a supramax, and in terms of EBITDA multiples, for a cape about 4.6; for a panamax 6.2 and for a handymax about 5.6. In other words, the capes perform marginally better than the panamax and the supramax class, in terms of earnings. However, and I think I need to stress that, if you look at the supply side, then the order book for the capesize fleet as of January 2007 stood at about 37 million dead weight tons, which is approximately 30% of the capesize fleet, whereas the order for the panamaxes, handymaxes and handysizes are at 20, 23 and 10% respectively. So a fairly considerable number of capesize vessels entering the market.
In summary, whereas the capes look better in terms of returns, they do have certain disadvantages, if you like, in terms of a large order book, perhaps a somewhat unfavorable age profile, complex technical management dynamics and sector volatility.
SCRAPPING ACTIVITY
Stamatis Molaris: We don't have to be very excited about the fact that only 2 million dead weight tons of dry bulkers was scrapped in 2006. The handysize and the panamax sector accounted for almost 75% of this scrapped capacity. But I have to point out though, that we've seen more tonnage been scrapped during 2006 than what have been scrapped in 2004 and 2005 altogether. However, equally we have to say, the healthy rate environment has deterred many owners to scrap older ships. The aging profile of the dry bulk fleet is probably the worst amongst the different shipping sectors today. There's no question about that. The overhang of twenty five year old ships has been steadily increasing the last three years.
Just to throw a few statistics for the benefit of the participants, by the end of 2007 and 2008 assuming no scrapping of all the tonnage whatsoever, they accumulative number of 25 year old tonnage of panamaxes and capesizes ships will exceed 21 million tons and 26 million dead weight tons respectively. If I have to incorporate the 20 year old ships, capes and panamaxes in 2007, they will exceed 50 million dead weight tons. That approximates 25% of the active fleet. Now 20 year old for this particular classes of ships, particularly for capes is a critical year. This is the year that charterers consider the ships as being over-aged. On the other hand, if you look at what's coming in the market, the new building capacity will be hitting the market between 2007 and 2008 for the capsize and the panamaxes is estimated 19 million tons and 14 million tons respectively.
I'm very convinced that the scrapping of such older units will accelerate in 2007/2008, in particular for the 25 year old ships. And some of the main reasons which I can throw out, is first of all charterers reluctance to charter for a period, as well as for spot business such old units, particularly in the capsize sector. The tightening legislation by ports, flag states and classification societies, will make the living of this particular over-aged assets very, very, very difficult. Last but not least the pressure from loading terminals, especially for iron ore cargos for faster turnaround of ships to relieve port congestion issues and increased productivity. And this is something that we are particularly noticing, again on the capsize sector.
DEMAND SIDE
George Economou: I guess the same thing that drove the markets in the past and the last few years will continue. The same commodities in the same percentages; just reminding you, iron ore about 26%, coal 28%, grain around 10-11% and the other commodities for the balance to bring us to 100%. And it may boring and repetitive, but is going to be China, it is the transformation from the agrarian to the industrialised countries that makes a difference with the increased commodities, and this is the marginal commodities that makes a difference, iron ore. Coal is going to increase - keep on increasing, maybe at the same rate, 5% per year - a little more, a little less because it's directly related to electricity generation. 50% across the world, all the electricity is derived from coal and 70% in China. You may see some commodities being transported in bigger quantities like cement was this year, steel as well but unfortunately nothing very exciting.
Christopher Georgakis: First of all, in terms of global exports, there is not doubt that Australia comes first. In other words in 2006 Australia exported 270 million tons of iron ore, whereas Brazil exported only 249 million tons. So Australia does have the lead in global iron ore exports, but it is true to say that Brazil is winning the Chinese import market. China imported 275 million tons of iron ore in 2005 and 325 million tons in 2006. That's an incremental growth of approximately 50 million tons of iron ore. And it is true to say that Brazil was able to carve out 32% of that market, in other words, it shipped 60 million tons into China, whereas Australia trailed back with only 22% and India, of course, at 14% and other countries at 32%. India, unfortunately, is not doing particularly well, primarily because the iron ore trades are vulnerable to seasonal interruptions, mostly the monsoons and also there are considerable interruptions at certain loading facilities in India.
Nevertheless, a quantity of about 15 to 20 million tons of iron ore was imported into China from places like Kazakhstan and Iran, and in my view, that is good news because you have new trade routes developing, which again, lends support to the ton-mile demand equation.
Stamatis Molaris: I expect to see a positive effect during the first quarter of 2007 at least. Iron ore movements to China will increase, there is no doubt about that. There's no question that the robustness of the capesize market in particular has a lot to do with such movements of iron ore cargos. Moreover, the level of the increase accepted by the Chinese steel mills does suggest that China will significantly increase its iron ore inputs in 2007.
As far as the freight cost is concerned, as a percentage of the landed cost of the iron ore commodity, depends on what type of ship the commodities ship, the level of the freight market, as well as where the commodity is shipped from. So to give an example, again for the participants for instance, for iron ore movements from Brazil to China, shipped by a standard capesize ship, the freight cost per ton exceeds $37 per ton. On a $65 per ton F.O.B. price for iron ore, it does represent approximately 35% of the landed cost of iron ore to China. Now equally, we have to say that the smaller the type of ship used for the transportation for the landed costs of the iron ore landed in China, and the larger, at the same time, the congestion in ports and in the loading terminals in particular.
Joseph Royce: Everybody does concentrate on looking at what's happening in China and India, but what's happening in the rest of the world is absolutely amazing. When you look at this wave of globalisation and the impact it has on shipping, it is very positive. Let's take, for example, in the Middle East, take the Arabian Gulf. Years ago, people used to send ships into the Arabian Gulf, discharge their cargo and they were forced to ballast their ships out either to Singapore or South Africa for cargo. Today, there's a vibrant trade. Ships stay into the Arabian Gulf and they get the same type of freight rates as in other parts of the world.
We deal a lot in South America, and to give you an example, a country like Chile who would struggle to get a copper up to $1,000 a ton is now selling at $7,000-$8,000 a ton. So what you see is that you see a combination of countries that have more money, based on their raw materials, a demand from people throughout the world to improve the standard of living of the citizens, and a tremendous challenge for infrastructure not only in the developing world, as we used to call it, but also in places like the United States where infrastructure has to be not only repaired, but improved.
FUEL PRICES
George Economou: If you ask an operator that operates mostly in the time-charter market, they would argue that this is an item that does not affect their operations. On the other hand, somebody that operates in the voyage-charter market would say yes, it does because he gets paid or pays a certain amount of dollars per ton basis. So if the fuel is very expensive then the bottom line would be lower. I like to think of it as a pass-through that is paid by the shipper or the receiver of the commodity, and that is because the main driver of the charter freight rate is supply and demand and when the imbalance is in favor of demand and rates are low and vice versa. So the cost does not really come into the equation for the bottom line of the owners. I think it is a traditional gain, you know when the charters are faced with an over-supply situation they will push rates down irrespective of the price of fuel and the other way around.
OPERATING COSTS PER VESSEL TYPE
The key components of the operating costs are things like crew wages and expenses (which would make up about 34% of the operating budget), repairs, spares and surveys, (those would make up about 21%), stores (about 12%), insurances (somewhere in the region of 10%), lubricants (I guess in the region of 8%), victualling and other miscellaneous at 5%; and if you include management fees in your operating budget then that would be somewhere in the region of 10% or so.
It might be, however, somewhat unrealistic to assume that those were only expenses; these are the expenses that you have in order to run the vessel but not necessarily the expenses required to finance the vessel or any G&A expenses or any maintenance capex included in that. So if we were to include these other factors then your break-even levels if you like would be, again depending on the age of the fleet, but somewhere in the region of perhaps $13,500-$14,000 a day on a free cash flow basis.
BEST WAYS FOR FLEET EXPANSION: NEW BUILDINGS OR SECOND-HAND VESSELS?
George Economou: Because of the way that the companies are valued - and rightly so - which are multiples of EBITDA or earnings per share, it makes more sense to invest in second-hand vessels. However, that being said, some new buildings will be also the preference for some companies in, I would imagine, to a small extend because this, we view our business as an ongoing business so we need to upgrade the age of the fleet and there is two ways of doing it, either sell the older second-hand and buy newer or buy new buildings if one thinks the new building prices are more opportune.
CONSOLIDATION TREND IN DRY BULK SECTOR
Christopher Georgakis: I think not only is there still room for consolidation, I think consolidation hasn't even started, to be frank with you, in any meaningful way in the dry bulk sector. I think as of December or January of this year there were somewhere in the region of 6,300 or so vessels (about 367 million deadweight tons). That, as I am sure you can
appreciate, makes for a fairly vast and highly fragmented market.
To shed some perspective, the aggregate number of vessels of all US-listed dry bulk shipping companies I think would only amount to something in the region of 3.5% of the world's fleet, and even if were to aggregate the deadweight capacity of the top 50 dry bulk shipping companies, I think we would only come up with about 37% of the world fleet.
The advantages I guess for consolidation would be primarily in the technical management sector, in other words you would perhaps achieve economies of scale with regards to your operating expenses or your G&A expenses or maintenance capex.
CHARTERERS BEHAVIOUR CHANGE
Stamatis Molaris: We do see a change of behaviour from major charterers, actually, that they are willing to lock in very, very long term, and in this particular business 'long term' is anything above three years is considered a long-term contract. And the bigger the size of ship, the longer the charterers are willing to fix the particular asset. So there has been a change in the charterers', I would say, guide as far as long business is concerned; and as far as I am concerned I think this is a great opportunity for companies that have strategies that are predicated on long-term time charter orientation.
Enquiries are destined only to ships of high quality, so basically meaning younger tonnage. Young capes five to ten years old, they can be fixed even in today for more than five, sometimes ten-year business - what I would call at very healthy rates. I suspect probably the same would be for panamaxes, a little bit more difficult to do that on the smaller size of bulkers. But that is very positive, and thus demonstrates, I would say, the confidence that the market participants have in the dry bulk market.
PERIOD MARKET OR SPOT MARKET?
Christopher Georgakis: I think whether you trade the spot or the period markets is genuinely a question for each individual owner to decide. There are companies out there that are focused in the spot market because they believe spot markets in the long run outperformed the period markets and perhaps because they have a much higher appetite for risk, whereas there are companies that want to generate visibility of earnings going forward for their shareholders want to lock in what are clearly very good rates in a robust market today and seek to cover the majority of their fleet operating base. So it really is very much a question for each individual owner, and I think I will abstain from making a judgement as to whether it's best to trade the spot or the period market because I think that I would get a bit too company-specific but, again, there are choices out there.
(Source: Nikos Skenderoglou, Hellenic Shipping News)
Source: 24/01/07: www.HellenicShippingNews.com


Executive Seminar on Shipping Derivatives and Risk Management
13th Series (08 February and 09 February 2007) - (1st Series - January 2004)
Following the successful completion of the 12th seminar series and the constantly increasing demand from the industry, the Research Centre of the Athens University of Economics and Business (AUEB), with the support of the Hellenic Shipbrokers Association (HSA), WISTA Hellas and derivatives.gr, is organizing its 13th seminar series, which will take place on 08 February and 09 February 2007 in Piraeus. This program pioneered by AUEB was introduced first worldwide in January 2004.
For more information: Professor Manolis G. Kavussanos and Assistant Professor Ilias D. Visvikis at: ivisviki@alba.edu.gr
Source: Email Announcement


Heidenreich and Couloucoundis to chair 13th Annual Hellenic-Norwegian-American Conference
The 13th Annual Hellenic-/Norwegian-American Joint Shipping Conference is to be held on Tuesday, February 6, 2007 at the New York Helmsley, 212 East 42nd Street, New York.
THE CHANGING DYNAMICS OF SHIPPING Unprecedented 21st Century Economic & Political Trends Shaping the Industry
CONFERENCE CHAIRMEN John Couloucoundis, Delta Navigation and Per Heidenreich, Heidmar
Event Details at: http://naccusa.org/documents/ship07detail.pdf
Source: http://naccusa.org