Greek Shipping News Cuts
Week 31 - 2007

 

Senator Raptakis - Meetings in Greece

Coventry, R.I.- Rhode Island State Senator Leonidas Raptakis arrived in Athens Wednesday with his family to travel to his home island of Andros and visit the island of Kefallonia. In addition to enjoying a family vacation, Raptakis has a tentative meeting scheduled with the Minister of Merchant Marine Manolis Kefaloyiannis to provide a briefing on the latest results regarding the environmental testing for the Arthur M. Huddell. Raptakis has been working to arrange the United States government?s donation of the Huddell to Greece for use as a floating museum in Piraeus, dedicated to the history of the Greek merchant marine and its impact on the nation, as well as the historic ties of friendship between Greece and the United States. The environmental tests are the last remaining obstacle to the donation.
In addition to the meeting on the Liberty Ship, Raptakis will be meeting with Professor Thalassinos, Director of Graduate Studies at the University of Piraeus, to discuss a cooperative agreement between his institution and the University of Rhode Island (URI). Raptakis said URI already has an agreement with the University of the Aegean. Professor Thalassinos is scheduled to visit Rhode Island and Massachusetts in March 2008 with a group of graduate students and Raptakis is hoping to further the educational partnership to encourage strong ties between the schools.
Raptakis is also planning to meet with Spyros Polemis, Managing Director of Seacrest Shipping Company, an early supporter of the Liberty Project who has been instrumental in advancing the donation of the Huddell. The United States Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) required testing of the vessel to make sure it is compliance with environmental laws before signing off on the donation. The test are being coordinated by the United States Maritime administration, which indicated that some 800 samples were taken from the Huddell between the weeks of May 20th and June 3rd.
Source: Posted on Wednesday, August 01 @ 10:47:56 EDT http://www.greeknewsonline.com/index.php


Capital Product Partners Appoints Robert P. Curt to Board of Directors
---ATHENS, Greece, Aug. 3, 2007 (PRIME NEWSWIRE) -- Capital Product Partners L.P. (Nasdaq:CPLP) today announced that its Board of Directors has appointed Robert P. Curt to serve as a Director on the Partnership's Board. He will be an independent Board member and will serve on the Board's Audit and Conflicts committees.
Mr. Curt, 56, joined the Partnership's Board on July 24th, 2007. He had been a career executive for more than 30 years with ExxonMobil, and was named General Manager of ExxonMobil's Marine Transportation department following the merger of Exxon and Mobil in 1999. In 2003, he was seconded to Qatargas to lead its LNG vessel acquisition program and subsequently was appointed Managing Director of Qatar Gas Transport Company, the world's largest owner of LNG vessels. In 2006, he returned to the U.S., where he served as Vice President in ExxonMobil's SeaRiver subsidiary. Mr. Curt received his B.S. degree in Marine Engineering from the U.S. Merchant Marine Academy, Kings Point, and holds an MBA in Finance from Iona College.
Evangelos M. Marinakis, Chairman of the Board of Capital Product Partners, said, "We are very pleased to welcome Bob Curt to the Partnership's Board of Directors. Given the breadth of his experience in the marine shipping arena, I am confident that Bob will provide valuable perspective as we pursue our growth strategies in the years ahead."
Mr. Curt's appointment brings the number of directors on the Board to seven, and the number of independent directors to three. The other independent directors are Keith Forman and Abel Rasterhoff, both of whom joined the Board immediately following the Partnership's initial public offering earlier this year. Mr. Forman, a former El Paso Corp. executive, is a member of the board of directors of Kayne Anderson Energy Management, an investment company investing primarily in energy companies, and is the Chairman of the CPLP Conflicts Committee. Mr. Rasterhoff joined Shell International Petroleum Maatschappij in 1967, and worked for various entities in the Shell group of companies until his retirement in 1997. From 1981 to 1984, Mr. Rasterhoff was Managing Director of Shell Tankers B.V., and from 1991 to 1997, Mr. Rasterhoff was Director and Vice President Finance and Planning for Shell International Trading and Shipping Company Limited. Mr. Rasterhoff is the Chairman of the Audit Committee.
About Capital Product Partners L.P.
Capital Product Partners L.P. (Nasdaq:CPLP), a Marshall Islands master limited partnership, is an international owner of medium-range product tankers. Following the delivery of the M/T Akeraios on July 13, 2007, Capital Product Partners L.P. now owns 10 MR Ice Class 1A product tankers and has an agreement to purchase five additional product tankers from Capital Maritime & Trading Corp. All 15 vessels are under medium- to long-term charters to BP Shipping Limited, Morgan Stanley and Overseas Shipholding Group Inc.
Source: http://money.cnn.com/news/newsfeeds/articles/primenewswire/124298.htm


Livanos takes control
---Peter Livanos bulker company DryLog has taken control of two pools for capesize and panamax ships of which it is a member and manager.
It has gained 100% control of C Transport Capesize (CTC) and C Transport Panamax (CTP), managed by Monaco-based C Transport Maritime (CTM).
CTM said all commercial activities of the pool companies will remain unchanged. DryLog owns CTM in any case, but it will now be able to react to market changes more quickly than in a traditional pool arrangement.
No financial details were revealed, but it added that existing financial arrangements with Citibank will remain in place and Citibank will continue to provide commercial banking services to CTC and CTP.
The pools have gone through many changes in the past 18 months, with some industry players arguing that the former Coeclerici capesize and panamax operations are no longer shipping pools in the traditional sense.
They regard CTM as more of an asset-ownership vehicle, which brings together a group of shipowners with cross-shareholdings and common interests.
The arrangement makes CTM distinct from a typical pool, in which owners traditionally contribute vessels.
Yet those close to the Livanos-run companies put a different spin on things.
They promote the concept of a "hedge pool", where the focus is to secure a number of long-term time charters. They also talk of recent moves by CTM to set up spot pools in the traditional sense.
CTC and CTP control 60 vessels on period charters and carried about 70m tons of cargo last year.
In addition, DryLog and its associates have control of 47 vessels of which 23 are on order or to be delivered on long term charters.
Other players involved in the CTM pools include Coeclerici, Grand Union, LCI, MIttal Shipping and Swire.
By Gary Dixon in London
published: 12:53 GMT, 31 July 2007 | last updated: 12:53 GMT, 31 July 2007
Source: www.tradewinds.no


Top Tankers steers into dry bulk
---Top tankers has spent $149.1M to move into the booming dry bulk shipping arena. More details are emerging that the Athens Suezmax and Handymax owner has bought a Panamax and two MRmax-sized dry bulkers, all built from 1995 to 2002.
The company name suggests that it focuses on wet trades, but its strategy has left the door open to expand beyond the tanker business. Top Tankers intends to expand the fleet through selective return as well as vessel specification and driven acquisitions.
At the end of the first quarter, its ratio of indebtedness to total capital was 53%.
As for the return-driven acquisition part of the strategy, the three ships have been fixed for periods of 14 to 28 months.
Daily rates range from $22,000 for the 45,526dwt 2000-built MRmax to $25,660 for the 2002-built 51,200dwt MRmax and $29,700 for the 73,506dwt 1995-built Panamax. These three are an impressive start, but do not make Top Tankers a significant player in the dry bulk sector quite yet.
Shares in Top Tankers hit an all-time high of $18 in spring last year but this spring it was a very different story as shares fell dramatically to a low of $4.45.
The addition of dry bulkers would mean that it could no longer be traded as a tanker company. However, a bigger dry bulk fleet could be spun off so that with good timing, shareholders in Top Tankers could in cash for decent profits.
The big question is how much longer the boom on the dry bulk market can continue.
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COMPANY PROFILE:
Full company name: Top Tankers Inc
Domicile: Marshall Islands
Headquarters: Athens, Greece
Established: 2000
Listed: Nasdaq
Share price: $7.31 on 24 July; 52-week high $8.33, low $4.45
Latest financial result: 1Q07 net profits $30.9M vs $0.9M year-on
Source: Fairplay International Shipping Weekly, 02 Aug 2007


Hellenic Shipping News interviews Mr. Basil M Karatzas - Compass Maritime Services
---Shipping has been enjoying a rather positive run during the last months, especially in the dry bulk segment. Could you highlight the principle drivers of this development?
In short, it's a case of a tight equilibrium of tonnage supply and demand. Tonnage supply is capped to existing vessels available to trade; diminished demolitions and increased deliveries notwithstanding, the vessels that are available today or available within the very short term, i.e. six months, are not adequate to meet the available cargoes to be traded.
On the demand side of the tonnage equation, several factors contribute to vessel requirements, and by association, increased supply of cargoes in the market. The most obvious factor is the expansion of the world economies, in general, and in China and India, in particular. Additionally, certain modern management principals, such as outsourcing, etc require that production takes place at the most economically feasible location which is not necessarily close by the end consumer markets; the containership markets are usually associated with such growth. In addition to increased cargo supply, the dynamics of the market have been changing: the distance the cargo hauled is getting longer and therefore more vessels are required to just move the same amount of cargo. A good example is the outstanding growth of the BRIC economies (Brazil, Russia, Indian and China) and their need for raw material and energy sources means that cargo has to be delivered, irrespective of freight cost, at least for now. For example, China has been an importer of Australian coal, but with increased need for energy, it forces them to import coal from Brazil, therefore the ton-mile factor is increasing by a factor of four or five.
Assuming that nothing extraordinary will take place in the next couple of years, the shipping markets seem to be able to remain in the growth phase.
Which has been the reaction of the shipping companies in these conditions? Could one say that investments in newbuildings and secondhand vessels have been intensified due to the increased cash flows?
What is the current market status in terms of rates in the tanker business? Which routes are proving more dynamic?
The clean sector has also showed signs of softening as compared to last year's rates. Clean Panamax tankers seem to have suffered the most, while MR tankers (50,000 ton capacity) have been achieving rates almost identical to last year's. Asset prices remain high, especially for modern and high-specification MR tankers with prompt-delivery, but this reflects the fact that few owners are willing to part with their tonnage and thus the high asset prices.
How would you describe the prospects in the shipping market?
Shipping is a very cyclical industry with substantial volatility; an industry that encompasses the whole globe and affects our daily lives! It is a very exciting business to be in! The fact that we are living in one of the best markets of all times, if not the best market ever, is an added bonus. Irrespective of whether the market will keep moving higher, stabilize at high levels, move slowly downwards or even fall precipitously, it is an argument for economists. However, the truth of the matter is that the shipping industry is not any more a localized industry (say Piraeus, London etc); it has moved from the sidelines to the main stage and into the spotlight. Proof is that there is significant following in the equity markets, whether New York, London, Athens, Oslo or Singapore, with second and third generation of owners, usually very knowledgeable in modern management and financial theories, and thus well qualified to position their companies and the industry overall for the next phase of growth and fully utilize the tools available to professionals in other industries.
Are we moving towards a market of concentration and larger groups, due to the capital intensive nature of the business, or will there always be room for smaller but niche-market conscious companies?
We foresee that there will be room for smaller players in the market, particularly in niche markets, where a smaller owner can exploit inefficiencies. Also, besides consolidation, there are also alternative structures that owners can utilize in order to mitigate for this capital intense business. Leasing has always been a traditional structure; popular in other industries such as airlines, but recently shipping companies have thoughtfully have been exploring such structures, especially with certain asset classes and certain markets.
Source: http://www.hellenicshippingnews.com/index.html, Monday, 30.07.2007, 12:59am (GMT)


Opposition to scanning bill grows
Source: Fairplay Daily News, 31 Jul 2007


Greek AirSea Lines resume services in the Ionian Region
---After a brief absence to facilitate the upgrade of our aircraft, AirSea Lines is pleased to announce the successful resumption of services in the Ionian Region this August 3, 2007. The return of seaplanes to the Ionian has been overwhelmingly received. The Company is on track to introduce additional aircraft and flights to its schedule in the coming weeks to meet this high demand which has resulted in most flights being 100% occupied.
Please continue to monitor our web site for available seats and additional routes and services throughout the Ionian and the rest of Greece.
AirSea Lines Purchases 3rd Aircraft
The [picture above is of] DHC-6 Twin Otter Serial Number 768 which is being purchased by AirSea Lines for deployment in Greece. The aircraft is pictured prior to installation of the avionics upgrades and the special amphibious landing floats which are in progress. Delivery to Greece is estimated to be August 21, 2007 and the in service date is expected to be September 1, 2007
Source: http://www.airsealines.com/