Greek Shipping News Cuts
Week 21 - 2007
---A new Greek protection-and-indemnity (P&I) club has come one step closer to becoming a reality after the Greek government passed laws that previously prohibited such a move.
New legislation was voted in by a majority in the Hellenic Parliament last week, allowing for the formation of a Greek P&I club. The legal development is a major step forward for the proposed new Hellenic Mutual P&I Association.
Over 200 small Greek owners fronted by Piraeus insurance broker Nick Velliades were reported as banding together in January.
Velliades was not available for comment but TradeWinds understands that plans, which are the result of a two-year effort, are now in motion.
Club rules, along with a constitution and articles of association, have already been drawn up with the advice of Ince&Co and two London companies have been earmarked for the management of the club since January.
The club's initiators decided not to create an offshore legal entity registered outside the European Union as is the case with other P&I clubs active in Europe. The Greek legality clause had been decided in order to avoid other complications associated with foreign-company representation clauses. Doing this, however, meant overcoming local prohibitive legislation.
The Greek Minister for shipping Manolis Kefaloyannis delivered on his promise back in January to push the bill through parliament by summer. The move has been met with mixed reaction by members of the insurance industry in Piraeus.
By Yiota Gousas, Athens, published: 25 May 2007
Passing the buck
---JEFF APTER reports from Paris on the courtroom wrangle to determine responsibility for the Erika tanker disaster in 1999
CONTROVERSY reigns in the Paris trial of those charged with responsibility for the loss, in 1999, of the Maltese-flagged tanker Erika and its cargo of fuel oil.
The trial of 15 defendants has now passed the halfway mark, with accusations and counteraccusations being hurled around by lawyers and witnesses.
But the owners and the technical manager have told the court they believe that the ship was a victim of stresses on the hull structure caused by sloshing of the cargo.
And the Italian classificationsociety, Rina, suggested that the incident was the result of poor seamanship by the master in re-ballasting the tanker after it began listing.
THE MASTER of the Erika is one of the main victims of the disaster, according to Michel Quimbert, a maritime lawyer in the defence team.
After spending some time in a Paris gaol following the Erika disaster, he returned to India and has continued to work in the maritime industry, including as a master. He still has his certificate, but is getting paid at Indian rates rather than his previous US$5,100 monthly salary that went directly to his family.
Source: 20 MAY 2007, http://www.nautilusuk.org/docimages/722.pdf
Aegean Marine Petroleum announces 21% increase in carrying capacity for 10 newbuildings
---Aegean Marine Petroleum Network Inc. (NYSE:ANW) , an international marine fuel logistics company that markets and physically supplies refined marine fuel and lubricants to ships in port and at sea, has announced that the Company has entered into an agreement to purchase the M/T Nautilus, a 1991-built and 2002-upgraded 7,030 dwt double-hull bunkering tanker, from Sirius Shipping AB, an unrelated third party. The Company expects to take delivery of the vessel on May 25, 2007, when it will be renamed the Aegean Princess.
The Company also announced that the anticipated carrying capacity for each of the ten new double-hull bunkering tankers with Fujian Southeast Shipyard, China has increased 21 percent per vessel to 4,600 dwt from 3,800 dwt. The ten vessels are scheduled to be delivered between 2007 and 2008. Additionally, the expanded carrying capacity pertains to the Company's options to build five new double-hull bunkering tankers with the same shipyard.
E. Nikolas Tavlarios, President, commented, "We are pleased by the continued execution of Aegean's well-capitalized growth strategy. With the acquisition of Aegean Princess in the secondary market, Aegean has once again expanded its full-service international marine fuel logistics infrastructure. Building on the success of the Ouranos, a 1983-built double-hull Panamax tanker delivered in the first quarter of 2007, this vessel further strengthens our position to increase fuel sales volume and expand our leading reputation in the growing marine fuel logistics industry. Our ability to meet these important objectives has been further enhanced by the 21 percent increase in carrying capacity per vessel related to our agreement with Fujian Southeast Shipyard."
Mr. Tavlarios added, "Aegean's financial strength, which includes proceeds from our $201 million IPO in December 2006 and a $183.4 million senior secured credit facility, bodes well for the Company to continue to expand its delivery capabilities with high-quality vessels during a time when we expect to grow our global service center network. By expanding our full-service platform that provides customers with an integrated marine fuel solution from procurement to delivery, we are well positioned to significantly grow Aegean and increase the Company's earnings potential."
Aegean Marine Petroleum Network Inc. is a marine fuel logistics company that markets and physically supplies refined marine fuel and lubricants to ships in port and at sea. As a physical supplier, the Company purchases marine fuel from refineries, major oil producers and other sources. Through its service centers in Greece, Gibraltar, Singapore, Jamaica and the United Arab Emirates, the Company sells and delivers these fuels to a diverse group of ocean-going and coastal ship operators and marine fuel traders, brokers and other users.
Last Updated ( Thursday, 24 May 2007 )
Source: Thursday, 24 May 2007, http://www.bymnews.com/news/newsDetails.php?id=9011
FreeSeas Inc. Announces Dimitris D. Papadopoulos as CFO
---PIRAEUS, Greece, May 22, 2007 (PRIME NEWSWIRE) -- FreeSeas Inc. (NasdaqCM:FREE - News) (NasdaqCM:FREEW - News) (NasdaqCM:FREEZ - News), a provider of seaborne transportation for dry bulk cargoes, announced today that Mr. Dimitris D. Papadopoulos has been appointed Chief Financial Officer effective May 21, 2007.
``Mr. Papadopoulos brings a depth of knowledge and experience in business and finance that will instantly enhance our management team,'' said Mr. Ion Varouxakis, Chairman of the Board, President and Chief Executive Officer. ``Under Mr. Papadopoulos' stewardship, I am confident that FreeSeas' financial operations will maintain the highest standards as we continue to expand our fleet and grow our company.''
Prior to joining FreeSeas, Mr. Papadopoulos served as President of Waterfront Developments, S.A., which organized and prepared the business and development plan related to the international public tender for ``the long term lease and right of development of the Athens 2004 -- Olympic Sailing Center,'' which involved an investment of more than US$250 million.
Mr. Papadopoulos started his career with Citigroup in New York, in the European credit division, and was later posted in Athens, where he left as General Manager of Corporate Finance to join Archirodon Group Inc. There he served as CFO and Group Administration Vice President, which included the financial supervision of the Group's shipping division, the Konkar Group. He served as Chairman and CEO of the Group's U.S. arm, Delphinance Development Corp., which, in addition to its real estate development, oil and gas development and venture capital investments, owned several U.S. contracting companies engaged in both the public and private sectors, with special expertise in harbor and marine works.
He then assumed the position of Managing Director of Dorian Bank, a full-charter commercial and investment bank, in Greece. Later, as Executive Vice President at the Investment Bank of Greece, he was responsible for developing the Bank's new banking charter formation, obtaining charter approval, and organizing, staffing and commencing banking operations.
``I am very excited to bring my past experience to a young and dynamic company like FreeSeas,'' said Mr. Papadopoulos. ``I am very impressed by the vision and enthusiasm of the management team, and look forward to contributing to the Company's growth.''
About FreeSeas Inc.
FreeSeas Inc. is a Marshall Islands corporation with principal offices in Piraeus, Greece. FreeSeas is engaged in the transportation of dry bulk cargoes through the ownership and operation of dry bulk carriers. Currently, it has a fleet of two Handysize vessels. FreeSeas' common stock and warrants trade on the NASDAQ Capital Market under the symbols FREE, FREEW and FREEZ, respectively. Risks and uncertainties are described in reports filed by FreeSeas Inc. with the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission, which can be obtained free of charge on the SEC's website at http://www.sec.gov. For more information about FreeSeas Inc., please go to our corporate website, http://www.freeseas.gr.
Source: Tuesday May 22, 8:00 am ET ,http://biz.yahoo.com/pz/070522/120037.html Press Release Source: FreeSeas, Inc.
Tsantanis noted TOP is "one of the few companies listed with more than $100m cash flow" and said "the problems of the past are now over" and he was confident any disputes would be settled out of court. TOP has struggled since independent auditors Ernst & Young quit last November and a number of investors engaged lawyers to investigate whether federal securities laws have been violated after suggestions false and misleading statements had been issued by the company over the accounting treatment of portions of the sale and leaseback of 13 tankers that closed in March and April 2006 in a deal worth $550m.
Meanwhile, TOP has received an upgrading from Cantor Fitzgerald investment analyst Natasha Boyden to "hold" from "sell". Cantor led TOP's IPO in 2004.
Further, as TOP seeks to improve its image among investors, it has revealed it is looking at a possible reverse share split which would see TOP's share float cut from 32m to 16m shares. In a reverse split, shareholders holding shares at say $5 a shares would receive one for $10 a share, but it will reduce TOP's liquidity.
Introduced by Dimitrios A Houliarakis, vp ABS Eastern Region, the event featured presentations outlining the most recent research undertaken by ABS on LNG and LPG seabourne trade. Arturo Revenga reviewed the outlook for LNG and LPG seaborne trade; Yung Sup Shin tackled the issue of sloshing loads for LNG carriers and offshore floating terminals; structure response and strength assessment of LNG containment systems was addressed by Bo Wang; design assement of LPG carriers was presented by Bill Shi; and Hamish N Patel reviewed compressed natural gas (CNG) technology and gave a regulatory update.
Source: www.newsfront.gr, 25 May 2007 Vol. 8 / No. 20
Quintana Maritime "hold"
NEW YORK, May 23 (newratings.com) - Analyst Natasha Boyden of Cantor Fitzgerald maintains her "hold" rating on Quintana Maritime Ltd (ticker: QMAR). The target price is set to $15.
In a research note published this morning, the analyst mentions that the company has signed a charter for its three panamax vessels and five karsarmax vessels with Bunge at an average daily rate of $21,800 per vessel for 2010. After the Bunge master charter expires in 2010, Quintana Maritime is expected to achieve vessel rates in-line with the market levels, the analyst says.
Source: Wednesday, May 23, 2007 8:35:18 AM ET, http://www.newratings.com/analyst_news/article_1537627.html
Quality Registry Essential to Ship Financing, says IRI
When selecting a jurisdiction for an initial public offering, Mr. Xenakoudis urged delegates to look for a number of key characteristics, including a modern and secure corporate law based on the law of a highly respected onshore corporate jurisdiction; flexible rules governing the operation, structure and maintenance of an IBC; and ease of formation, including the ability to incorporate an IBC the same day.
The Marshall Islands Registry is currently white listed by the Paris and Tokyo MoUs, as well as the US Coast Guard Qualship 21 program.
IRI and its affiliates, with over 58 years experience as a Maritime and Corporate Administrator, currently have a network of offices in Dalian, Ft. Lauderdale, Hamburg, Hong Kong, London, New York, Piraeus, Seoul, Shanghai, Singapore, Tokyo, Washington, DC/Reston and Zurich, that have the ability to register a vessel or yacht, record a mortgage, incorporate a company and service clientele. In order to meet higher expectations, IRI has expanded its worldwide coverage to include representation in Chile, Istanbul, Limassol, Mumbai, Oslo, Port Said and Taipei. IRI concentrates solely on administering the Marshall Islands flag and provides a broad spectrum of registry related services for the shipping and financial services industries.
For Additional Information Contact: Theo Xenakoudis, Managing Director, International Registries, Inc. Tel: +30 210 4293 223 E-Mail: firstname.lastname@example.org
Source: Press Release
Island oil mop-up continues
---The operation to clean up fuel that has seeped from the sunken Sea Diamond cruise ship off the island of Santorini is continuing, the Merchant Marine Ministry said yesterday in an attempt to ease fears over the threat to the marine environment.
The vessel, which sank at the beginning of April, is lying close to the shore with 400 tons of diesel still in its tanks.
The Merchant Marine Ministry has said that it had sought help from a private company to help pump out the petrol but the contractor had been slow in acting.
The ministry added yesterday that it was keeping a close eye on the area and that less fuel had been leaking from the vessel.
Engineers believe that although the fuel tanks were not damaged in the accident, oil is leaking from different parts of the ship.
Santorini authorities have been urging the ministry to speed up efforts for the removal of the fuel and has even threatened taking legal action against it.
Meanwhile, the Hellenic Center of Maritime Research (ELKETHE) has placed 10 buoys at points around the sunken vessel to measure levels of pollution in the area.
Mussels have also been placed in cages nearby to determine whether marine life is being harmed.
Initial results are not expected for another month.
Separately, the goverment said it was pressing ahead with legal proceedings against Cyprus-based Louis Hellenic Cruises, the owner of the Sea Diamond.
Greece is expected to claim up to 1 billion euros in damages from the company.
Cruise the Greek Islands for about $46 a night
---This summer, Stelios is sailing home.
Stelios Haji-Ioannou, the European entrepreneur who has brought joy to the bottom lines of budget travelers across Europe with his easyJet airline and chain of easyHotels, has just repositioned his experimental easyCruise concept to the waters of his homeland: Greece.
For the past several years, easyCruise has consisted of a bright orange boat leapfrogging up and down the Riviera in a maritime service that hovered somewhere between an upscale ferry with beds and a cheeky, cheap cruise.
But this season (through Nov. 11), Stelios has ditched the hop-on/hop-off schedule and switched the whole operation over to the Aegean. He's also toned down the ship's livery; people who don't mind spending an hour or two flying in an easyJet painted with eye-popping ads weren't quite so eager to live for a week in what was essentially a giant, floating, Day-Glo orange billboard.
The ships don't visit just any old collection of Aegean islands. The easyCruise itineraries were drawn up by a born and bred Greek sailor.
"One of the things about being the son of a Greek shipping magnate is that you get your own boat," say Stelios, who spent his younger years exploring little-known Greek islands where tourists rarely venture and most cruises never call. Now he's planning to share these hidden hot spots with his customers.
True, some of the islands on the new easyCruises itineraries are famous - you've probably heard of Mykonos, Paros and Naxos - but others are familiar only to their natives and, well, Athenians with their own boats.
Not only will easyCruise passengers get to visit such spots as Amorgos, Spetses, Serifos, Milos, Folegandros, and Sifnos - they will be able to do it for as little as $46 per night.
EasyCruise is definitely not your grandmother's cruise line. Patrons tend to range in age from late 20s to early 40s - most other cruises are aimed a good generation or two higher.
What's more, Stelios himself describes easyCruise as "a cruise for people who hate cruising."
Most other cruises tend to leave each port of call by 5 p.m. or so, serve a buffet dinner while they get underway, sail all night and put in to the next port by the morning. If you're an early bird and prefer the company of other cruisers to that of the locals, that's great.
If, however, you'd rather spend quality time on each island, free to dine in local tavernas then spend a few hours hitting the hot night spots - what would a Greek islands vacation be without a spot of clubbing? - easyCruise is the way to go. Instead of sailing all night, when the action is on the islands and not on board a ship, easyCruise doesn't even set sail until 5 a.m. or 8 a.m. the next morning, arriving at the next port by noon.
That gives you all morning to sleep off the previous night's revelry, and all afternoon to explore the new island. The ship even offers a variety of adventures ashore to keep you busy if sightseeing or beach bumming isn't enough.
Incidentally: for islands with fewer dining options, or on nights when you simply want to chill on the boat, you can always dine at the on board a la carte restaurant serving fusion cuisine.
If you go
Itineraries: The collection of some 11 Greek islands easyCruise visits are strung together in three different itinerary loops, each departing from the Athens port of Piraeus.
The midweek itinerary lasts three nights (from about $139), followed by a four-night weekend loop (from about $228), then a longer, seven-night loop (from about $400).
None of these itineraries overlaps (well, except for returning to Piraeus), and the cycle repeats every 14 days, which means you could cobble together a two-week cruise and visit all 11 islands simply by booking all three loops in a row.
Prices: These rates are for a two-person interior cabin. Cabins with a window cost more, and suites with balconies about double. Those are also the lowest rates, which apply mostly to sailings in September and October; June to August the price rises to anywhere from $57 to $163 per cabin per night.
Booking: Get more information and make bookings at www.easycruise.com
Source: Posted Saturday, May 26, 2007 , http://www.dailyherald.com/travel/story.asp?id=316950
When it comes to building on export horizons, Greece is the word
---TOWARDS the end of the Sydney Olympics, a rumour went around town. You heard it in milk bars, on the train and in the pubs. The rumour was that Sydney was again going to host the Games in 2004, because Athens wasn't going to be ready on time.
Winston Churchill used to say that a rumour could get halfway around the world before the truth can get its pants on, and this one certainly flew quickly. However, a rumour it was, and when the pants were finally found, we heard that the flame was indeed going to Athens and that the Sydney stories were merely that.
However, even if there is no substance behind rumours, they do have consequences. Naturally, Athens organisers were offended by suggestions of their tardiness and incompetence, and that Australia would have to save the day.
But all's well that ends well. In the end the Athens Olympics in 2004 were as magnificent as Sydney in 2000, and many Australian companies that won contracts in Sydney also did well in Athens, and are playing a big role when China has its turn in Beijing in 2008.
According to Ioanna Gouvatsu of Austrade Athens, Australian exporters in Athens 2004 indeed did as well as our athletes in the pool and on the track.
"Around 35 Australian companies won Athens 2004 contracts worth up to $200 million," she said. "The majority of Olympic contracts were in specialist or niche services, training, waste management, merchandising and design."
In manufacturing, Steriline Racing from Mount Barker in South Australia builds and installs starting gates in horse racing. After winning some highly prestigious contracts at European racecourses, Steriline supplied and installed the starting gates for the racecourse at Markopoulos, the Athens equestrian venue.
In engineering services, Sinclair Knight Merz, a big winner from Sydney 2000, was involved in the design and engineering of the roofs for the main Athens Olympic stadium and velodrome, plus a pedestrian and transport interchange. As a result, it has picked up many key Beijing contracts.
Cleanevent, a Melbourne-based cleaning and waste management company, provided cleaning services to the Athens Olympics and Paralympics (a contract worth about $80 million).
And believe it or not, the legendary volunteer spirit that was so evident in Sydney 2000 also has had export benefits. Sydney-based TAFE Global secured a multimillion-dollar contract to help train about 80,000 Olympic staff and volunteers to perform nearly 1000 different jobs ranging from selling tickets to venue management. TAFE Global is also selling its services in customer service and change management training to Beijing.
After the success of Sydney 2000 and the Melbourne 2006 Commonwealth Games, Australia again ran business networking events at the Games under the Business Club Australia (BCA) program, and is doing the same thing at the Beijing Olympics.
This week, the importance of Australian-Greek ties is on display with the visit of Greek Prime Minister Kostas Karamanlis to Australia. Of course, a highlight is the visit to the world's "other" Greek city, Melbourne.
Are there trade spin-offs from all this Hellenic goodwill? We know how important the Greek community has been to Australia's development and, in particular, the Greek contribution to our social development, but there are commercial benefits too.
Many of our small businesses and entrepreneurs are of Greek origin and descent, and with 50 per cent of all Australian small and medium-sized exporting businesses having an overseas-born owner (according to latest Austrade research) the Greeks have done a fair bit for export development as well.
However, at the macro level, Greece remains a minor trade partner for Australia. Greece's entry into the European Union and its adoption of the euro has helped the Greek economy along with growth rates of 3-5 per cent over the past five years. Therefore Greece's main trading partners are close to home in Germany, Italy, Britain and Russia.
Welcome to Australia, Prime Minister Karamanlis, apologies for those Sydney 2004 rumours, and remember when it comes to future Australian trade, it's all Greek to me!
Tim Harcourt is the chief economist of the Australian Trade Commission (Austrade) and the author of Beyond Our Shores.
Source: Tim Harcourt, May 23, 2007 http://www.theage.com.au/news/business