Greek Shipping News Cuts
Week 32 - 2007

 

Shipping sector forging ahead

The expansion of activities of Greek oceangoing shipping contributed to an increase in the total fleet capacity by 3.6 percent, while at the same time retaining its leading global position, representing 16.9 percent of global capacity in dwt.
Moreover, Greek shipowners have been especially active in shipbuilding operations. According to official data up to the end of February 2007, orders for new vessels of Greek interests stood at 612 ships of total capacity 47.9 million dwt, up an incredible 86 percent compared to 2006 figures. Most of the 612 vessels are expected to sail under the Greek flag, 340 of them tankers, representing 19.8 percent of total global newly built vessel capacity.
Data show that the average age of ships is constantly improving, i.e. dropping, with the age of foreign-flagged Greek-owned vessels in 2006 falling to 14.3 years from 15.3 years in 2005. With regard to Greek-flagged ships, the average age dropped to 11.1 years from 11.7 years in 2005.
Employment, competitiveness
Source: http://www.ekathimerini.com/4dcgi/news/economy_&xml/&aspKath/economy.asp?fdate=11/08/2007


Greece's seaplanes seek to simplify island-hopping
---By Karolos Grohmann
ATHENS (Reuters) - Greece's only seaplane operator promises tourists cheaper and faster access to remote islands as well as a nostalgic feel of the pioneering days of air travel.
However, regulatory and safety issues have meant that AirSea Lines has endured a bumpy ride since its launch last year.
The Canadian-led company had to stop flying its two Twin Otter DHC-6 planes, that can carry up to 19 passengers each, to meet new safety standards just two months after acquiring routes serving the popular Aegean island market.
"In Greece, when you fly you are considered a plane and when you land you are a vessel," Michael Assariotis, the company's sales and marketing manager, said on Wednesday.
"We built the whole regulatory framework from scratch as it did not exist before," Assariotis said.
Greece's flourishing tourism industry and over 250 inhabited islands, many of them top tourist destinations, offer a huge opportunity to anyone starting a seaplane link to the mainland.
Seaplanes can fly to places with no airport infrastructure and where ferries do not travel due to high costs, cutting down travel time to a fraction.
An eight-hour ferry voyage to the island of Ios from the port of Piraeus near Athens for example is only a 40-minute flight by seaplane and a lot less rocky, Assariotis said.
But AirSea Lines has faced a series of obstacles.
Opposition from ferry operators who saw AirSea Lines as cutting into their Aegean business, a legal battle with state carrier Olympic Airlines over subsidized routes and getting permission to land on water were some of the problems.
The head of Greece's union of coastal shipping enterprises said some members had reservations about the introduction of seaplanes but said ultimately it was good for the islands.
"We have to see this as Greeks and I see this as something very positive. Especially as they fly from island to island," union president Michael Sakellis, who is also CEO of Blue Star Ferries told Reuters.
"We cannot say we only want ships and no planes."
Seaplane services have recently sprung up in Italy, Malta and Scotland, pointing towards a revival in Europe of a form of travel popular among the wealthy before World War Two.
"Seaplanes bring back the simplicity of flying, they bring back the golden age of aviation," Assariotis said.
Source: Wed Aug 8, 2007 9:18 AM EDT, http://ca.today.reuters.com/news/newsArticle.aspx?type=domesticNews&storyID=2007-08-08T131757Z_01_HO847820_RTRIDST_0_CANADA-GREECE-SEAPLANES-COL.XML&archived=False


Ankara probes how Cyprus ships docked at Turkish ports
The fuss being made in the Turkish press over the past few days about the ships is worrying the Cyprus Shipping Council, as some of its members operate from Cyprus without having Cypriot-owned or Cypriot-flagged vessels themselves.
Ironically, Turkey does not impose its ban on lucrative passenger ships with blatant Greek Cypriot connections, which deposit thousands of tourists at Turkish ports every year for shopping and sightseeing.
It's also an open secret that commercial ships with connections to Cyprus have managed to dock at Turkish ports for many years, despite the ban. In some cases harbour masters do not look in depth into the history of the ship, its manifesto, or its owners. In other instances they just turn a blind eye, according to Alexandros Josephides the Deputy Secretary of the Cyprus Shipping Council (CSC).
He said the articles coming out in the Turkish newspapers were probably an electioneering ploy to focus attention on the 1987 ban, which Turkey is obliged to lift under the Anakara customs union protocol with the EU. So far, Turkey has ignored its obligations under the protocol.
The ban provides that no ship with a Cyprus flag, Cypriot owners or part owners, no Cyprus-based shipping companies, or vessels that have docked in Cyprus, can visit Turkish ports.
Jospehides said feedback from members showed that in at least one case a ship with connections to Cyprus docked three times at a Turkish port. On the fourth occasion it was not allowed, he said.
Three Greek Cypriot ships docked at and departed from Turkish ports on various dates in 2006 and 2007, the paper said.
The Turkish Foreign Ministry confirmed that the Greek Cypriot ships might have entered Turkish ports if they were registered in another country, but emphasised there was no change in Turkey's policy of not allowing traffic from Cyprus unless the isolation of the Turkish Cypriots was lifted.
"Thousands of ships enter Turkish ports every year and some of them may submit documents certified by another country if they apply to Turkish authorities via ship agencies, as they are registered in two countries in this case," Foreign Ministry spokesman Levent Bilman said at a press conference. He said the relevant authorities have been asked to study the documents more carefully.
BOX
Official records show the ship docked at Ambarli port in Istanbul on July 3, 2007. According to records, it loaded its cargo at the port and headed to the Marsaxlokk port in Malta. The same ship arrived at the Gebze port from Greece on July 19. Separate records show it departed from Gebze to Marsaxlokk on July 25, 2007 and arrived in Gebze from Marsaxlokk on August 1.
The Mona S is owned by two companies named Samin Ha and Samin Shipping Co. Ltd. One of these companies, Samin Ha, is registered in Syria and another one in Cyprus. This ship entered the Eregli port on the Black Sea carrying a Syrian flag on September 29, 2006. On June 25, 2007 it reached Gebze from a Syrian port and left the port for Greece after five days.
There are records showing that the Strofades 3 arrived in the Mersin port from another Turkish port in Izmit carrying a Slovak flag on June 17, 2007. The same ship used Greek Cypriot flags while entering other ports in Russia, Lebanon and Greece.
Source: By Jean Christou, Cyprus Mail, Cyprus - Aug 11, 2007


Crew-members to receive back-pay after cargo ship sold in New Ross
---A cargo ship, which has been at the centre of a row over non-payment of its Russian crew, was sold this afternoon in New Ross.
Source: Wednesday, August 08, 2007 , http://www.belfasttelegraph.co.uk/breaking-news/ireland/article2844560.ece


Blue Star reports 39.9% hike in profits
---Ferry boat operator Blue Star Naftiliaki on Wednesday reported an increase in first-half 2007 pre-tax profits by 39.9 per cent, while consolidated turnover rose to 77.53 million euros against 62.30 million euros in the corresponding period of 2006, marking an increase of 24.4 percent.
Profits after tax and minority rights for the bourse-listed company rose to 9.56 million euros from 6.24 million in the corresponding period of 2006 (a 53.2-percent increase).
Source: http://www.hri.org/news/greek/ana/2007/07-08-09.ana.html#11


Navios Sponsors 9th Annual Marine Money Greek Ship Finance Forum
---Navios is pleased to be a prime sponsor for the the 9th Annual Marine Money Greek Ship Finance Forum, which will be held on Thursday, 18th October 2007 at the Ledra Marriott in Athens, Greece.
Source: http://www.navios.com


BREAKING NEWS: Paragon Shipping Prices
---Paragon Shipping shares priced tonight at $16.00 per share, the bottom of the target range. The deal was underwritten by UBS, Morgan Stanley, Cantor Fitzgerald and Dahlman Rose. Congratulations to all!
Credit: Crunch, Crisis or Catharsis?
However a couple main points have begun to emerge.
Seaspan announced a new $920 million financing with DnB just this week priced at L+50 that was swapped out to a fixed rate of 5.7% through 2025. The facility is to provide 100% pre- but a more conservative 65% post-delivery financing for 12 newbuildings the company currently has on order that are to be put on long-term charters. Only this past May Seaspan had completed a $1.3 billion refinancing with Fortis and Citi.
Horizon Lines, having been twice bought out, in the midst of unsettled credit markets refinanced $193.1 million of bank debt priced at L+225 and $314.4 million in 9% and 11% notes with a $275 million credit facility priced at L+150 and a $330 million convertible notes issue priced at 4.25%. Not bad!
Meanwhile a backlog of debt currently held by investment bank underwriters is expected to hit the market in the autumn, by which time it is hoped that conditions will have improved. Equity sponsor perks such as sponsor dividends are coming under particular pressure as they increase risk without presenting direct benefits companies.
However as yet major defaults have been almost exclusively in the home loan market.
The overall economy continues to be stable and leveraged companies continue to grow their businesses, meet their debt obligations and have cash left over, so when it comes to these deals the market is acting more in response to greater concerns about risk and a reduction of liquidity then it is defensively. In particular market players have suggested that many of the same investors that are in the sub-prime mortgage linked CDO markets are also in the leverage finance-linked CLO markets, meaning that the reduction in liquidity hits those deals a lot harder than it would, say, a Norwegian shipping company taking out a bilateral loan from a local bank.
Source: h t t p : / /www.ma r i n emo n e y . c om  Ma r i n e Mo n e y F r e s h l y Mi n t e d  T h u r s d a y , A u g u s t 9 , 2 0 0 7  P a g e 1


Aries Maritime Announces Second Quarter 2007 Financial Results
---Company Declares Second Quarter Dividend of $0.21 per Share Based on Improved Vessel Utilization
ATHENS, Greece, August 8 /PRNewswire-FirstCall/ -- Aries Maritime Transport Limited [RAMS] today reported its financial results for the six months ended June 30, 2007. The following financial review discusses the results for the three months ended June 30, 2007 compared with the three months ended March 31, 2007 to provide a more meaningful comparison. It also refers to the results for the three months ended June 30, 2007 compared with the results for the three months ended June 30, 2006 as well as results for the six months ended June 30, 2007 compared with the results for the six months ended June 30, 2006. Sequential Quarterly Results
Revenues of $26 million were recorded for the three months ended June 30, 2007, compared to revenues of $25.6 million recorded for the three months ended March 31, 2007. The increase in revenues is primarily attributable to improved vessel utilization during the three months ended June 30, 2007 compared to the three month period ended March 31, 2007.
As of June 30, 2007, the fleet comprised ten products tankers and five container ships, which is the same number of vessels as of March 31, 2007. During the three months ended June 30, 2007, vessel operating days totalled 1,365, compared to total vessel operating days of 1,350 for the three months ended March 31, 2007. Actual revenue days for the three month period ended June 30, 2007 were 1,325 days, compared with 1,234 days for the three month period ended March 31, 2007. Net income for the three months ended June 30, 2007 was $4.2 million or $0.15 basic and diluted earnings per share, compared to net income of $0.5 million or $0.02 basic and diluted earnings per share recorded for the three months ended March 31, 2007.
Results for the three month period ended June 30, 2007, included an unrealized gain of $2.2 million from the change in the fair value of derivatives, which are interest rate swaps entered into to hedge the Company's exposure to US$ interest rates on its debt. Results for the three month period ended March 31, 2007 included an unrealized loss of $0.4 million from the change in the value of the same derivatives.
Adjusted EBITDA for the three months ended June 30, 2007 was $14.7 million compared to $13.1 million for the three months ended March 31, 2007. (Please refer to the Summary of Selected Data table later in this document for a reconciliation of Adjusted EBITDA to net income.)
Mons S. Bolin, President and Chief Executive Officer, commented, "Our results for the second quarter of 2007 were driven by a reduction of 76 days in out-of-service time for our fleet compared to the first quarter of 2007. In addition to our improved utilization rate, we continued the successful execution of our charter strategy during the second quarter. Specifically, we commenced an extended period charter for the Ocean Hope, a 1989-built container vessel, for a period of 24 months at a net rate of $13,300 per day. Based on our success in securing long-term period charters for our vessels in the second quarter and year-to-date, we have significantly enhanced our revenue and earnings visibility for the benefit of shareholders. Currently, we have a large portion of our vessels locked away on long-term period charters with an average duration of approximately 1.4 years."
Year-Over-Year Second Quarter Results
Revenues of $26 million were recorded for the three months ended June 30, 2007, compared to revenues of $22.5 million recorded for the three months ended June 30, 2006. The increase in revenues is primarily due to the growth of the Company's fleet and associated increase in operating days. During the three months ended June 30, 2007 vessel operating days totalled 1,365 compared to total vessel operating days of 1,289 for the three months ended June 30, 2006. Net income was $4.2 million or $0.15 basic and diluted earnings per share for the three months ended June 30, 2007, compared to net income of $1.2 million or $0.04 basic and diluted earnings per share recorded for the three months ended June 30, 2006.
Results for the three month period ended June 30, 2007, included an unrealized gain of $2.2 million from the change in the fair value of derivatives. Results for the three month period ended June 30, 2006 include an unrealized gain of $0.8 million from the aforementioned derivatives.
Adjusted EBITDA for the three months ended June 30, 2007 was $14.7 million compared to $9.8 million for the three months ended June 30, 2006. (Please refer to the Summary of Selected Data table later in this document for a reconciliation of Adjusted EBITDA to net income.)
Six-Month Results
Revenues of $51.6 million were recorded for the six months ended June 30, 2007, compared to revenues of $43.7 million recorded for the six months ended June 30, 2006. The increase in revenues is primarily due to an increase in operating days. During the six months ended June 30, 2007 vessel operating days totalled 2,715 compared to total vessel operating days of 2,505 for the six months ended June 30, 2006. Net income was $4.8 million or $0.17 basic and diluted earnings per share for the six months ended June 30, 2007, compared to net income of $5.3 million or $0.19 basic and diluted earnings per share recorded for the six months ended June 30, 2006.
Results for the six month period ended June 30, 2007, included an unrealized gain of $1.7 million from the change in the fair value of derivatives. Results for the six month period ended June 30, 2006 include an unrealized gain of $1.9 million from derivatives.
Adjusted EBITDA for the six months ended June 30, 2007 was $27.7 million compared to $20.4 million for the six months ended June 30, 2006. (Please refer to the Summary of Selected Data table later in this document for a reconciliation of Adjusted EBITDA to net income.)
Fleet Report
Aries operates a fleet of ten double-hull products tankers and five container ships. The Company's products tankers consist of five double-hull MR tankers, four double-hull Panamax tankers and one double-hull Aframax tanker. The Company's products tanker fleet has an average age of 8 years and an aggregate capacity of approximately 575,325 dwt. The Company's five container ships range in capacity from 1,799 to 2,917 TEU and have an average age of 17.7 years.
Fleet Deployment
Currently, 14 of Aries' 15 vessels are deployed on period charters with established international charterers and state-owned entities. The charters have remaining periods ranging from approximately 0.3 months to 3.1 years, with an average of 1.4 years.
On June 13, 2007, the Company commenced an extended period charter for the Ocean Hope, a 1989-built container vessel, with China Shipping Container Lines. The extended charter is for a period of 24 months at a net rate of $13,300 per day.
Aries' fleet deployment is available at: http://www.ariesmaritime.com/pop_news.php?news_id=79
(1) Aries considers Adjusted EBITDA to represent the aggregate of net income, net interest expense, depreciation, amortization and change in the fair value of derivatives. The Company's management uses Adjusted EBITDA as a performance measure. The Company believes that Adjusted EBITDA is useful to investors, because the shipping industry is capital intensive and may involve significant financing costs. Adjusted EBITDA is not an item recognized by GAAP and should not be considered as an alternative to net income, operating income or any other indicator of a company's operating performance required by GAAP.
The Company's definition of Adjusted EBITDA may not be the same as that used by other companies in the shipping or other industries.
(2) Operating days are defined as the total days the vessels were in the Company's possession for the relevant period.
(3) Adjusted to reflect that the Stena Compass and the Stena Compassion were each employed on a bareboat charter; an assumed TCE of $24,500 per day has been included in respect of (a) the 91 operating days of the Stena Compass during the three month period ended June 30, 2006, the 90 operating days of the vessel during the three month period ended March 31, 2007 and the 91 operating days of the vessel during the three month period ended June 30, 2007 and (b) the 15 operating days of the Stena Compassion in the three month period ended June 30, 2006, the 90 operating days of the vessel during the three month period ended March 31, 2007 and the 91 operating days of the vessel during the three month period ended June 30, 2007 .
(4) Total Vessel Operating Expenses are defined as the sum of the vessel operating expenses, amortization of dry-docking and special survey expense and management fees. Adjusted to exclude the following operating days with respect to the Stena Compass and the Stena Compassion, which were employed on bareboat charters:
(a) the 91 operating days of the Stena Compass during the three month period ended June 30, 2006, the 90 operating days of the vessel during the three month period ended March 31, 2007 and the 91 operating days of the vessel during the three month period ended June 30, 2007 and (b) the 15 operating days of the Stena Compassion in the three month period ended June 30, 2006, the 90 operating days of the vessel during the three month period ended March 31, 2007 and the 91 operating days of the vessel during the three month period ended June 30, 2007.
(5) Average Adjusted EBITDA per day is calculated by dividing the Adjusted EBITDA by the Operating days.
Credit Facility
Aries closed on a new, $360 million fully revolving facility in April 2006, which has a term of five years. Aries used the proceeds of the new facility to replace its existing $140 million term loan facility and $150 million revolving credit facility. The Bank of Scotland and Nordea Bank Finland were the joint lead arrangers. Nordea Bank Finland was the book manager, while The Bank of Scotland acts as the Facility Agent. Additionally, The Bank of Scotland and Nordea Bank Finland, who had fully underwritten the new facility, arranged a syndicate of other major ship finance banks to participate in the revolving credit facility. In October 2006, the $360 million commitment conferred by the new credit facility commenced the first of nine semi-annual reductions of $11 million as scheduled. As of June 30, 2007 Aries had an undrawn commitment available under the facility of $51.7 million.
Second Quarter 2007 Dividend
Today, Aries' Board of Directors declared a $0.21 per share dividend for the three month period ended June 30, 2007. The dividend is payable on August 31, 2007 to shareholders of record on August 17, 2007.
Aries' policy is to pay a quarterly dividend in March, May, August and November of each year, in an amount equal to the charter hire received by Aries during the preceding quarter less cash expenses for that quarter (principally vessel operating expenses, debt service and administrative expenses) and any reserves our Board of Directors determines we should maintain. The payment of dividends is at the discretion of the Board.
Mr. Bolin concluded, "We are pleased to declare a second quarter divided of $0.21 per share. This dividend represents a considerable increase compared to our first quarter 2007 dividend of $0.14 per share and our fourth quarter 2006 dividend of $0.07 per share. With an improved utilization rate, combined with the significant period charter coverage for our fleet, Aries continues to demonstrate steady progress in enhancing its ship operations. In accomplishing this important objective, we expect to further improve our ability to provide shareholders with stable dividends over the long term."
Conference Call and Webcast Information
The Company announced that it will hold a conference call on Wednesday, August 8, 2007 at 10:00 a.m. Eastern Time to discuss earnings for the second quarter of 2007. To access the conference call, dial 888-208-1812 for domestic callers, or +1-719-457-2654 for international callers, and use the reservation number 1041369. Following the teleconference, a replay of the call may be accessed by dialing 888-203-1112 for domestic callers, or +1-719-457-0820 for international callers, and using the reservation number 1041369. The replay will be available through August 22, 2007. The conference call will also be webcast live on the Company's website: http://www.ariesmaritime.com. A replay of the webcast will be available following the call through August 22, 2007.
About Aries Maritime Transport Limited
Aries Maritime Transport Limited is an international shipping company that owns and operates products tankers and container vessels. All of the Company's products tanker vessels are double-hulled with an average age of 8 years. The Company's products tanker fleet consists of five MR tankers, four Panamax tankers and one Aframax tanker. The Company also owns a fleet of five container vessels. The Company's container vessels have an average age of 17.7 years and range in capacity from 1,799 to 2,917 TEU. All of Aries Maritime's products tankers and container vessels, other than the Ostria, currently have period charter coverage. Charters for 40% of the Company's products tanker fleet currently have profit sharing components.
Company Contacts: Company Contact: Richard J.H. Coxall, Chief Financial Officer, Aries Maritime Transport Limited, +30-210-8983787; Investor and Media Contacts: Leon Berman, Principal The IGB Group, +1-212-477-8438; Michael Cimini, Vice President, The IGB Group, +1-212-477-8261
Source: 8/8/2007, http://www.ariesmaritime.com/pop_news.php?news_id=79


Target lifts order tally over $500m
---A Greek owner has added a bulker quartet to its already fat orderbook in South Korea.
Target Marine of Greece has bumped up its orderbook of post-panamax bulkers at South Korea's C & Heavy Industries (C&HI) by a further four units, bringing the value of its newbuilding programme at the yard to well over $500m.
A company executive confirms Target has booked four more 82,000-dwt bulkers at the relatively newly established yard with deliveries slated for May and September 2009 and January and May 2010.
The new units bring Target's order tally at C&HI up to 14 ships. In January, the Greek operator booked six firm vessels with four options that have been declared. Deliveries start from December 2008.
Target was unwilling to reveal the price on the latest orders.
The original ships were said to have been booked at around $40m each.
The company currently has no bulkers in its fleet. It sold its two remaining panamaxes, the 75,000-dwt Leda and Leto (both built 2001), to compatriot Carras (Hellas) in November last year for a reported $84m en bloc.
However, in addition to the C&HI orders, Target lists on its website two 58,500-dwt bulkers on order at Tsuneishi's Zhousan facility. The one unit is listed with a somewhat confusing March 2007 delivery date, while the other is said to be due out of the yard in October 2009.
In June, it purchased five 2,686-teu containerships from AP Moller-Maersk at an estimated cost of up to $55m, bringing its boxship fleet up to 11. It has six 50,000-dwt products/chemical tankers on order at SPP Shipbuilding in South Korea for delivery between June 2008 and May 2009. The IMO II/III ships were believed to be costing some $46m each.
Gillian Whittaker Athens published: 10 August 2007
Source: www.tradewinds.no


DryShips extends bulker binge
Source: Fairplay Daily News 07 Aug 2007


Eagle Bulk could add more newbuilds
---New York City based Eagle Bulk Shipping's $1.1 billion, 26 ship fleet expansion announced last month could get even bigger.
Today it revealed that on August 1 it had extended its relationship with the Sinopacific Shipbuilding Group, the parent of the Yangzhou Dayang Shipbuilding Co. (China),which is building the 26 ships. It has secured an agreement giving it options to build nine additional Supramax vessels to be delivered between 2010 and 2012.
The news came in conjunction with the announcement of results for the second quarter of 2007 that included a net income increase of $2.5 million, or 27%, to $11.9 million compared to $9.4 million for the second quarter of 2006.
Gross time charter revenues increased by $4.8 million, or 18%, to $31 million for the second quarter of 2007, from $26.2 million for the second quarter of 2006.
Chairman and CEO Sophocles Zoullas, said the results reflect "solid growth in revenue quarter over quarter and year over year.:
"The overall strength of the market," he noted, "is highlighted by our recent charter of the Sparrow, our third oldest and smallest ship, for two years at a rate of $34,500 per day, which represents a 40% increase over its current one-year charter rate.''
"After the quarter closed," he continued, "Eagle Bulk entered into an agreement to acquire 26 Supramax vessels, underscoring our commitment to grow the company into a world-wide leadership position in the Supramax market. With minimum contracted revenue on the Eagle Bulk fleet of approximately $1.2 billion, and up to 15 vessels to charter through 2008 to further increase contracted revenue, our shareholders will continue to participate in our growth with a target $0.50 dividend, which we will aspire to grow over time. This cash flow will also facilitate our ability to repay debt, strengthen our balance sheet, and permit us to continue to act opportunistically to extend our leadership position."
Source: August 7, 2007, http://www.marinelog.com/DOCS/NEWSMMVII/2007aug00074.html