Greek Shipping News Cuts
Week 40 - 2007

 

Greek shipping community sends warning to Conservative party over non-doms legislation

Greek shipping globally controls around 80 per cent of dry cargo market and is still the number one nation merchant shipping.
Source: Published: 2007/10/05 03:16:04 BST, http://www.londongreeknews.co.uk/story.php?id=353


Merchant Marine Minister on government policy statements
---Merchant Marine and Island Policy Minister George Voulgarakis, speaking in Parliament on Sunday during the three-day debate on the government's policy statements said that the consistent policy started in March 2004 and being implemented by the government, based on development, competitiveness, employment and the quality of services, will be continued.
Voulgarakis said that "reforms will be promoted for the modernisation of Greek ports and for the development of an integrated coastal shipping communications system aimed at increasing employment for Greek seamen," adding that contacts between the public and private sectors for the acquisition of new ships will be encouraged.
Lastly, Voulgarakis expressed his conviction that a national Greek shipping fleet will be created that will have modern and high-level infrastructures to enable Greece to become an international intersection.
Source: http://www.hri.org/news/greek/ana/2007/07-10-01.ana.html#11


M Karamanlis confers with Merchant Marine minister, IMO chief
---Prime minister Costas Karamanlis conferred on Friday with Merchant Marine and Island Policy minister George Voulgarakis and the Greek Secretary-General of the International Maritime Organisation (IMO) Efthimios Mitropoulos at the government headquarters in Maximos Mansion.
Voulgarakis told reporters that it was a special honour for Greece that the IMO chief was a Greek, adding that they had a constructive meeting with the prime minister, during which the discussed international maritime issues.
The minister further said that Greece's involvement in such affairs had also been discussed, as well as the initiatives taken by Mitropoulos, as IMO chief, on such matters as ship and navigation safety, which he said Greece endorsed.
The prime minister also met Friday with development minister Christos Folias. No statements were made after the meeting.
Source: http://www.ana.gr/anaweb/user/showplain?maindoc=5762496&maindocimg=5754042&service=6


Greece, Libya discuss maritime demarcation
---The delimitation of maritime zones between Greece and Libya was discussed in a meeting here on October 2 between Deputy Foreign Minister Yiannis Valinakis and top Libyan diplomat Abd al-Rahman Muhammad Shalgham, on the sidelines of the 62nd United Nations General Assembly meeting in New York, ANA reported.
Valinakis stated after the meeting that the two sides touched on a number of bilateral issues as well as issues concerning the EU-Libya relations, which have distinctly improved recently after a settlement reached in the Bulgarian nurses' case, as well as the signing of a cooperation memorandum in late July.
The meeting with the Libyan government minister, who holds the title of Secretary of the General People's Committee for Foreign Liaison & International Cooperation, was requested in the wake of growing EU-Libya relations, Valinakis said, adding that a decision was reached for a meeting of Greek and Libyan specialists before the end of the year to discuss the delimitation of the maritime zones between the two countries.
"This is a long-standing and pending issue and, in spite of repeated requests, it was impossible to get relative talks underway," he said.
Valinakis characterised the issue as very important for both countries -- divided by the Libyan Sea in the east-central part of the Mediterranean - as he noted that bilateral relations will be further improved in the areas of economic and political cooperation.
Valinakis, who addressed the 62nd UN General Assembly meeting on Wednesday morning (Greek time), also attended a formal reception hosted by Turkish Foreign Minister Ali Babacan and a working dinner of the Black Sea Economic Cooperation (BSEC) foreign ministers.
Source: http://www.neurope.eu/articles/78400.php, 6 October 2007 - Issue : 750


Reflections on a Powerful Event
So what bits and pieces did we find so interesting you may ask. Generally, they were things we did not know or some special insight we never appreciated. In a world of background noise with which we were familiar these stood out for us. To emphasize, these were personal and should not be construed as a reflection on the quality of the presentations. Unfortunately we could not get to them all and had to make difficult choices. We discriminated in favor of those companies we did not know well enough.
Terje Askvig of Eitzen Chemical also noted the issue of crewing, which he believes is mitigated through scale. However he did note that there is pressure on wages due to the weakness of the dollar.
We were amazed at how fragmented the IMO II/III market was. With 118 vessels in its fleet, Eitzen has only a 6% market share. Financing vessels is not a challenge for Eitzen although they noted some hiccups in the debt markets. They are now focusing on leasing as a source of financing with a particular focus on Japanese leasing. One has only to look at Norden and Navios to see the beauty and opportunity of this type of financing.
Capital Products Partners utilizes an MLP structure to focus on the products market. With very modern high specification product carriers and charters with an average remaining life of 6.2 years they certainly meet the criteria. Like Seaspan, Ioannis Lazaridis, the CEO and CFO, has focused on controlling the cost side by leveraging off its sponsor and obtaining a five-year fixed operating agreement.
Operating expenses are fixed at $5,500 per day including special survey and drydocking; however, the latter at this point should not be too material based upon an average fleet age of 0.7 years. This sector is also highly fragmented according to Mr. Lazaridis with 290 owners operating in the sector.
U-Ming has positioned itself for the opportunity that Mr. Ong believes will occur in 2009 as the capesize orderbook begins to deliver into the market. The balance sheet is healthy with low debt and a substantial cash position. Interestingly, even though he does not believe it opportune because of its high price, U-Ming has a vessel on order in its preferred yard so as to keep the relationship and to know what is going on in the market.
Mr. Ong concluded that while the fundamentals are good market sentiment remains a critical factor. He also noted that a 50% correction remains fantastic business.
The company has valued the long-term chartered fleet with the purchase options using the Black 76 model (a variant of the Black Scholes methodology) and determined the vessels are all well in the money.
The company manages its capacity mainly through contracts of affreightment, time charter out, the spot market and FFAs. Yields are enhanced by covering backhauls that provide higher utilization and therefore more money.
Source: 4 Oct 2007, http://www.marinemoney.com/freshlyminted/PDFFiles/2007/FreshlyMinted-Current.pdf


Almi back in action with supramaxes
---After a long quiet period, Almi Marine of Greece has rebounded with an order for two supramax bulkers at STX Shipbuilding of South Korea.
Managing director Captain Panos Kapsalis confirms the company has booked two 57,500-dwt bulkers at the yard. Both are scheduled for delivery in September 2010.
It is understood that the deal may have been inked as long ago as July, which is reflected in the price of $43m apiece for the ships.
Kapsalis says Almi had held options for two more ships but they were not taken up.
The company had previously been in discussions with unnamed Chinese yards but had not been able to secure refund guarantees for the vessels it wished to build, according to Kapsalis.
Nevertheless, the conservative company has been enjoying the good freight-market climate with its current fleet of three 52,000-dwt bulkers all built in 2001.
Its last move on the sale-and-purchase side was in March 2006, when it bought the 52,000-dwt Azizi (ex-Stella Bulker, built 2001) for $28m from Lauritzen Bulkers of Denmark. Its two other ships, the similar-size Akili and Almasi (both built 2001), were ordered from Tsuneishi Shipbuilding in Japan at the end of 1999 for around $19.5m each.
Gillian Whittaker Athens, published: 05 October 2007
Source: www.tradewinds.no


CERES strengthens its LNG carriers Management team
---As Ceres LNG readies to take delivery of its first LNG carrier, the Peter Livanos group company is in the process of recruiting a top LNG team. According to the weekly, LNG Unlimited, four members of Danish shipowner AP Moller-Maersk's LNG team have quit their jobs to join the Greek shipowner.
The Livanos group will move into LNG carrier ownership, with BG Group's fleet for its Egypt LNG production. Ceres is currently managing eight LNG carriers for BG Group. Ceres has said it intends to strengthen its activity in the LNG sector and has bid on tenders for long-term project work.
In December Ceres will enter ownership when it takes a 25% stake in the newbuilding 145,000cumtr Methane Nile Eagle, the first BG-contracted ship dedicated to lift LNG from its Egypt LNG production. Fellow Greek owner Chandris, which has set up a company called Eagle Gas Shipping, to handle the Egyptian government's role in LNG ship interests, the state-run Egyptian General Petroleum Corp and BG are expected to also have an equal 25% stake in the ship. A sistership, Methane Point Fort is due for delivery in 2008.
According to LNG Unlimited, Jeppe Jensen, who was senior vp for Maersk LNG, has left the AP Moller-Maersk company with his second-in-command Jan Peterson, and Thor Knappe and a senior member of staff from the company's tanker department. Moller-Maersk has confirmed Jensen's departure and three other colleagues.
The move appears to underline just how the expansion of the sector is leading to increased competition for experienced human resources.
Jensen has been running Moller-Maersk's LNG operation since the company entered into LNG shipowning in 2001.
Source: 5 October 2007 Vol. 8 / No. 37, www.newsfront.gr


Seanergy Maritime Corp. Completes Initial Public Offering
---ATHENS, GREECE--(Marketwire - October 1, 2007) - Seanergy Maritime Corp. (AMEX: SRG.U) announced today that it has closed its initial public offering of 22,000,000 units. The units were sold at an offering price of $10.00 per unit. Each unit issued in the initial public offering consists of one share of the Company's common stock, $.0001 per value per share (the "Common Stock") and one warrant to purchase one share of Common Stock. Prior to the consummation of the initial public offering, the Company consummated a private placement of 16,016,667 warrants at $0.90 per warrant to the executive officers of the Company. The warrants sold in the private placement are identical to those included in the units sold in the initial public offering.
The Company also announced today that the underwriters for its initial public offering exercised their over-allotment option as to an additional 1,100,000 units (which are identical to the units sold in the initial public offering) and purchased such units today. The initial public offering (including the sale of the 1,100,000 units subject to the underwriters' over-allotment option) and the private placement generated gross proceeds in the aggregate amount of $245,415,000 of which $231,000,000 has been deposited into a trust account for the benefit of Seanergy Maritime Corp.'s public shareholders. Maxim Group LLC served as book-running manager of the offering.
A registration statement relating to these securities has been filed with and declared effective by the Securities and Exchange Commission on September 24, 2007. This press release shall neither constitute an offer to sell nor the solicitation of an offer to buy nor shall there be any sale of these securities in any state in which such offer, solicitation or sale would be unlawful prior to registration or qualification under the securities law of any such state. The offering of these securities will be made only by means of a prospectus, a copy of which may be obtained from Maxim Group LLC, 405 Lexington Avenue, New York, New York, 10174, Telephone: (800) 724-0761.
Any statements contained in this press release that do not describe historical facts may constitute forward-looking statements as that term is defined by the United States Private Securities Litigation Reform Act of 1995. Any such forward-looking statements contained herein are based on current expectations, but are subject to a number of risks and uncertainties that may cause actual results to differ materially from expectations such as material adverse events affecting the Company, the ability of Company to satisfy the conditions to completion of the business combination and those other risks and uncertainties detailed in the Company's filings with the Securities and Exchange Commission.
About Seanergy Maritime Corp.
For further information please contact: Seanergy Maritime Corp., Panos Zafet, CEO & Co-chairman of the Board, 10, Amfitheas Avenue, 17564 P. Faliro, Athens, Greece, Tel: 30 210 9406900, Fax: 30 210 9406933,
Source: http://www.seanergymaritime.com/press/seanergy100107.pdf


Marfin takes majority in Attica
---Superfast Ferries is part of Attica Holdings, which came under the majority control of MIG yesterday.
Marfin Investment Group (MIG) yesterday bought a majority stake in Greek ferry operator Attica Holdings as part of its plans to expand into non-banking sectors.
MIG, which was spun off from Marfin Popular Bank, has been making several private-equity investments recently in a bid to take advantage of investment opportunities in Southeastern Europe.
MIG currently holds a 10.8 percent stake in Greek telecoms group OTE and a majority stake in Greek food group Vivartia.
MIG trades about 10.5 times its estimated 2007 earnings, compared with a multiple of 24.55 and 17.30 for Belgian peers GBL and NPM/CNP, according to Reuters Estimates.
Attica trades 40 times its forecast 2007 profit, compared with a 17 multiple for its European peers. (Reuters)
Source: http://www.ekathimerini.com/4dcgi/news/content.asp?aid=88558


TEN Limited Announces Creation of Marine Environmental Committee
Source:


Zacks #1 Rank Top Performers includes: TOP Tankers, DryShips
TOP Tankers Inc. (NASDAQ: TOPT) provides international transportation services of seaborne crude oil, petroleum products and bulk commodities. The company was one of the best-performing Zacks #1 Rank companies last week with a gain of 16.1%. In August, TOP Tankers announced agreements to acquire three drybulk panamax vessels for approximately $222 million. This move increases its fleet in the lucrative drybulk sector to six vessels. They are expected to be accretive to its 2008 earnings and to generate significant cashflow.
Earlier in the month, TOP Tankers reported solid second-quarter results. Earnings per share reversed a year-ago loss and blew past the consensus. Revenues advanced 8%. The strong results were attributed to improved market conditions, increased utilization of its fleet and the re-acquisition of four Suezmax vessels.
DryShips, Inc. (NASDAQ: DRYS) made the top performers list for the second straight week. Shares of the international provider of drybulk carriers gained 11.3% last week. In the previous week, DryShips advanced almost 16%. Earnings estimates for this year have been trending higher for a while now, including gains of 20% and 2.1% over the past two months and 30 days, respectively.
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Top Performing Stocks for September
By James Giaquinto, Oct 03, 2007, http://www.zacks.com/rank/index.php
---The five best performing stocks on the Zacks #1 Rank List last month were: Excel Maritime Carriers Ltd. (EXM), Wynn Resorts, Ltd. (WYNN), DryShips, Inc. (DRYS), Shanda Interactive Entertainment Ltd. (SNDA) and NAVTEQ (NVT).
Excel Maritime Carriers Ltd. (EXM) was one of September's best-performing Zacks #1 Rank stocks as drybulk shipping continues to benefit from high vessel rates in a flourishing industry. Shares of the seaborne transportation services company jumped 30% last week. It was last featured on the top performers list for the week ended Sep 7. As with many companies in the industry, earnings estimates for this year are on the rise, gaining approximately 20% over the past two months and almost 7% over the past 30 trading days.
Excel Maritime Carriers announced strong second-quarter results in August, including an earnings per share surprise of almost 25%. In addition, revenues of $37.3 million advanced year over year from $26.7 million. The company attributed the results to the aforementioned strength in shipping markets and consistent implementation of its balanced fleet deployment strategy.
DryShips, Inc. (DRYS) was a top-performing Zacks #1 Rank company on two occasions during September, helping the drybulk shipper gain 27% for the entire month. The same scenario occurred in August, except the company gained 24%. Earnings estimates for this year are up approximately 20% over the past two months, including an advance of 2.1% in the past 30 trading days. The company, which has almost become a regular on the top performers list, is benefiting from very strong industry momentum, which many expect to continue into the future.
DryShips announced second-quarter earnings per share of $1.59, excluding items, which beat the consensus by more than 16%. Voyage revenue advanced to $112.5 million from $54.5 million. The company's outlook for 2008 remains positive with fewer vessels being delivered from the shipyards and Chinese demand remaining strong. The company also announced fleet renewal highlights, explaining that its fleet will consist of 46 vessels once the activity is completed. The average age will be just below nine years, compared to the industry average of 13 years. For 2008, the company's outlook remains positive with fewer vessels being delivered from the shipyards and Chinese demand remaining strong.
Source: http://home.businesswire.com, October 02, 2007 10:31 AM Eastern Daylight Time


Dubai Investment seeks controlling stake in MPB, MIG
---Dubai Investment Group is expected to file a proposal for the acquisition of a controlling stake in Marfin Popular bank and Marfin Investment Group. The stake that DIG will attempt to hold is around 30% in MPB from 17% currently and 20% in MIG from 9%.
Dubai Investments Group CEO Mr. Saoud Ba'alawi is expected to hold a press conference tommorow in Athens where he is expected to officially verify DIG's determination to increase its stake in MIG and MPB. Dubai Group is expected to use MIG and MPB as an investment vehicle to expand in Greece and South-East Europe. Among DIG's investment targets, according to market sources is Hellenic Telecoms Organization, Hellenic Exchanges, and Attica Group.
Source: 10:46 - 02 October 2007, www.reporter.gr


Motor Oil expects weak 3Q07 profit - CFO
Source: https://www.proton.gr/gmb/HTMLs/2007-10-04.html


Hellenic Shipping News interview: Athanasios Samios, Samios Shipping Company
---Confident that shipping today offers plenty investment opportunities, appears Mr. Athanasios Samios, Managing Director of Samios Shipping Company, a 34 year old dry bulk company, that is now on the market for any potential investment, particularly in sectors like the tanker market or even passenger shipping. In his interview to Hellenic Shipping News, Mr. Samios is positive that the dry bulk market hasn't yet reached its peak, at least for the near future, describing a frenetic demand in the market, almost for any kind of vessel and route.
First of all, could you provide us with a brief company profile of Samios Shipping Company?
We are basically into managing vessels in the dry bulk market for the last 34 years. During the past couple of years, a large part of our fleet was sold due to the high market prices. So now we are active in the market, we are observing the situation and are confident that we shall soon seize up any potential investment opportunity that will arise. This doesn't mean of course that we're investigating only the dry bulk market. We are strategically monitoring other segments of the market as well, such as the wet sector (tankers), but also passenger shipping.
Today are there any ships left under operation from Samios Shipping?
The company sold 12 vessels in the last three years and today we have three vessels operating.
I must say that passenger shipping as an investment opportunity strikes me with a bit of a surprise, given the fact that the ones active in the market are constantly complaining about the problems faced, while also the public's opinion about the services provided isn't the best possible.
Definitely, there's room for improvement. I believe there are better days ahead for this sector. But besides that, the fact that the services provided need to be improved is viewed by us as a challenge.
Are you considering entering the market independently or with a business partner, probably from abroad?
At first we shall move independently, but in the future maybe a business or a strategic partner will be necessary. That's because only large schemes shall survive in the sector in the following years.
Another interesting issue is the tanker business that you mentioned earlier. The market hasn't followed the boom observed in the dry bulk sector. Therefore, maybe more business opportunities will be observed. Is that correct?
I'd say that the tanker side of the market witnessed a boom earlier than the one occurring nowadays in the dry bulk market. But what we've seen in all three main segments of the market, regardless of the freight rates and the levels they are, we are in a period never before witnessed in shipping, with very high return levels and values of vessels. In the tanker market, where a fall has been witnessed in the market, the very high liquidity has kept vessel prices high. Only if tanker rates keep falling, there's a chance that vessel prices will also fall.
Let's go back to the dry bulk market. In such a booming environment with record breaking rates and very high asset prices, are there any investment opportunities, given the fact that the market might be reaching its peak?
Well, the decision lies in the hands of the investor. He has to calculate the risk and take it or leave it. Of course, the potential is there, mainly because of the very high demand for a shipowner to time-charter his vessel for a long period of time, thus, securing income inflows for a given period. Of course, others prefer the spot market, which traditionally offers higher returns than time-charter. But, what might happen in between, in terms of the market conditions and the ship’s value at the end of the time-charter period, is something to be examined by every ship owner and accordingly make his decision.
Which are the factors that a ship owner has to take into account, in order to make this decision, i.e. time-charter Vs. spot, especially in today's conditions?
Well, there are lots of factors that determine such a decision, one of which being the price that a given vessel has been acquired. For instance, if a ship has been bought several years back at a low price and is debt-free, it's easy to operate in the spot market with higher returns and risk, because the ship has already paid off the investment risk. Exactly the same mentality applies to the case of a large fleet, where some of the vessels are under time-charter contracts and some others operate in the spot market. But the rule is for a wise ship owner to charter his ship, depending on his cash needs. Usually, if a vessel has been bought at a high price and demands large amounts of money to be paid off in the near future, it is time-chartered in order to minimize any potential risk. The market is booming now, but can just as easy retreat to lower levels.
What has triggered today's booming freight market? Is the so-called ''China Effect'' enough to justify this reality?
There are lots of factors. During the past 20 years or so, we had a lack of investment not only in the core shipping business, but also in infrastructure. The increased demand from China and its ''satellite'', in conjunction with the increase of world trade, the price hike of commodities, which of course has also to do with the decrease of the U.S. dollar's value, have gradually, from 2003 and forward, offered a large boost in all shipping segments. With regards to the dry bulk market, some other factors have influenced the market as well, such as the large congestion witnessed in key ports, like Newcastle in Australia, where the waiting days reached almost 70 for large capesizes. So, we have an artificial reason for limiting supply of vessels, since ships are used as floating storage rooms, instead of hauling and carrying cargoes. This has resulted in higher demand, which, according to analysts, isn’t going to fade away, at least for the near future.
Which were the drivers behind the fall in tanker rates?
I think it was due to an imbalance between demand and supply of vessels. We had a strong orderbook in the previous years, which now is being put in water. I recently came across a chart with an interesting coincidence. When we see a peak in tanker newbuildings, we tend to see fewer bulkers being constructed and vice-versa. This trend has repeated itself in this occasion. But there were other reasons as well for the fall of tanker rates, like political factors and the oil prices. Nevertheless, most analysts state that from the end of fall, rates will rebound once again.
Taking the fuel costs aside, is it a positive thing for a tanker owner to be operating in a market, where oil is traded in high prices?
My opinion, not only for oil, but for other commodities as well, is that prices should be close to historical averages, either we're talking about a trader, or the consumer. We have witnessed times when oil was traded for $11-12/barrel and commodities prices were extremely low. Shipping suffered back then. Today, in a completely different environment, shipping thrives, but in the long term the consequences will be negative for shipowners, because inflation is likely to rise everywhere, affecting the real economy and thus shipping as well, which is dependent on economy to perform well.
Source: Monday, 01.10.2007, 12:27am (GMT), Nikos Roussanoglou, www.hellenicshippingnews.com


Piraeus Events Calender: Shipping Siminars, Meetings
October 1-5 > Shipping Entrepreneurship in Action, Further information: seminars@akmo.org
October 2-3 > Shipping Derivatives and Risk Management will take place in the Savoy Hotel in Piraeus. Further information: petros@rc.aueb.gr
October 2 to 4 > DNV Academy Piraeus: ISM Internal Auditor. Further information: pirmar@dnv.com
October 2 to 5 > 81st international conference and convention of the Propeller Club of the United States, at the Eugenides Foundation. Further information: http://www.propellerclub.gr/
October 8 to 10 > DNV Academy Piraeus: Incident Investigation Analysis & Practical Risk Assessment. Further information: pirmar@dnv.com
October 11 & 12 > DNV Academy Piraeus: OHSAS 18001 Occupational Health & Safety Management Systems- Foundation. Further information: pirmar@dnv.com
October 15-19 > Classic and Modern Financing Tools for Shipping. Further information: seminars@akmo.org
October 16 > Seagull/NewsLink user forum in Greece. Further information: Ioannis Athanasopoulos, ioannis.athanasopoulos@sgull.com Mobile: +30 6942 841364
October 18 > 9th Annual Marine Money Greek Ship Finance Forum. Further information: http://www.marinemoney.com/forums/GR07/index.htm
October 23 > Norwegian Hull Club Buffet Luncheon for Greek business friends at the Yacht Club. For further information: Arnfinn.Lund@norclub.no
November 8 > Greek Shipping Summit 2007. Further information: http://www.greekshippingsummit.com/conference.html
November 13-16 &19 > Shipping Law for Non-Lawyers. Further information: seminars@akmo.org
December 10-14 > From the University to the Freight Markets: A Practical Guide. Further information: seminars@akmo.org
2008
January 21-25 > From Ship to Shipowning: A Seminar for Ship Officers. Further information: seminars@akmo.org
February 4-8 > Freight Rates, Loans and the Management of Cost in Shipping. Further information: seminars@akmo.org
March 3-7 > Ship Management through Software Applications. Further information: seminars@akmo.org
Source: press releases & world wide web,