Greek Shipping News Cuts
Week 43 - 2007

 

US court acquits Athenian officer

---A Greek engineer has been cleared in California after a 12-month probe.
A Greek engineer is heading home for the first time in 20 months after being cleared of charges by a US court in a pollution-related "magic pipe" case.
Dimitrios Georgakoudis tells TradeWinds that he is on his way to Greece after eight months at sea and 12 months of investigation. He last left home in February 2006 at the age of 28 bound for a stint on Athenian Sea Carriers's 159,000-dwt crude tanker Captain X Kyriakou (built 2003).
He is set to board a plane after his acquittal today, aged 30.
Judge Lowell Jensen of the Eastern District of California federal court declared from the bench that he found the witnesses called by the US government "not credible".
The charges against Georgakoudis were based on testimony by six whistle-blowers from the engine-room crew. Some of them had worked alongside Georgakoudis daily for eight months and all came forward with the prospect of gaining a small fortune in rewards.
Speaking to TradeWinds by telephone from Sacramento just after the judge cleared him, Georgakis said: "I cannot change myself and the way I work with other people but it would be better if the government would start punishing people who tell lies."
Once he has spent some time at home with his parents, he plans to return to sea for Athenian and praises the Greek owner for sticking by him. "I was happy to have that company on my side," he said and adds that he will not hesitate to call at a US port after his experience.
"Of course. That's my job and I love my job," he answered. "If something like this ever happens again, I'm going to do the same as I did now: stand up for myself," he added.
Georgakoudis was ill and had his trial severed from that of his company and his boss in June, when Athenian and chief engineer Artemios Maniatis won an acquittal on similar charges that they had circumvented the suezmax's pollution-control system, deliberately spilled oily waste at sea and then covered it up.
Such Marpol-related charges have become popular with US Department of Justice (DoJ) prosecutors in recent years. Most by far have ended with plea-bargain deals, press releases from the DoJ's environmental-crimes section and large fines for the owners. The June victory was the first win ever by a shipowner who fought back.
The company's lawyer, Long Island maritime-criminal defender Mike Chalos, told TradeWinds at the time that the government had "created a monster" with its rewards scheme and that the Athenian decision should make them rethink their reliance on such testimony.
The DoJ nonetheless took Georgakoudis to trial and failed to prove its case a second time in what was essentially a tightened-up rerun of its case against Athenian, according to Chalos.
Chalos served as one of Georgakoudis's lawyers despite a DoJ attempt to stop him from representing the engineer. Jensen rejected the argument that Chalos's representation of Athenian created a conflict of interest.
By Bob Rust, Stamford, published: 26 October 2007
Source: www.tradewinds.no


Papachristidis is considering move to the Philippines
---Basil Papachristides is considering moving the Piraeus-based Hellespont tanker operation to the Philippines to take advantage of the country's growing maritime skills. Indeed, Papachristidis has confirmed the group's exclusive manning agency, Manila Shipmanagement and Manning (Manship), is to be turned into a full management company.
Papachristidis says Hellespont's relationship with the Asian country is "fast-evolving" to the point where it will become an "important feature of the landscape of the Filipino maritime community and perhaps even a de facto Filipino shipping company".
In a speech on globalisation at the Asian Institute of Management in Manila, the chairman of Hellespont said: "The shift in our manning arrangements will have far-reaching implications for our profile in the Philippines". He inferred Hellespont is one of the first on the path of all western shipping companies which leads to the Philippines and "other competitive seafaring nations in the Far East" and, "because today's seafarers are tomorrow's superintendents", shipmanagement would migrate to the region "within the next generation".
Hellespont has had full Filipino manning since 2004, and now employs 500 Filipino officers and ratings within of 1m dwt. With panamax tankers, eight 17,000 chemtankers and four offshore supply vessels on order, the number of seafarers will more than double over the next few years.
The Philippines, the world's biggest supplier of seafarers with a 20% share, and in spite of its reputation for corruption and political instability, has attracted a growing amount of shippingrelated investment in the last couple of years.
Source: www.newsfront.gr, 26 October 2007 Vol. 8 / No. 40


Danaos orders five 12,600 TEU box ships at Hyundai Samho
---Athens-headquartered Danaos Corporation (NYSE:DAC) has ordered five 12,600 TEU containerships.
All five Post Panamax containerships will be built by Hyundai Samho Heavy Industries and are expected to be delivered to Danaos gradually starting from January until August of 2011.
Danaos has also arranged for an undisclosed "large international liner company" to charter all the vessels for 12 years each, at accretive rates. The deal increases Danaos' contracted fleet to 32 vessels with a total carrying capacity of 217,421 TEU or 150% of its current fleet.
The total contract deal size is approximately $830 million and will be financed by own funds and debt. For the first full year of operation, this five vessel block addition to Danaos' fleet of containerships is expected to contribute approximately $92 million of EBITDA, annually upon delivery of all five vessels. For this purpose, EBITDA, a non-GAAP measure, shall mean net earnings before interest, un-drawn credit facility fees, taxes, depreciation and amortization of deferred dry-docking charges and financing fees.
"We have ordered the largest size containerships available," said Dr. John Coustas, Chief Executive Officer of Danaos. "In addition we have arranged 12 year charters at accretive rates with one of the largest liner companies in the world for all five of these vessels scheduled to be delivered to us in 2011. With this order Danaos is reaffirming its position as one of the major players in the containership market worldwide. With this deal we have not only managed to increase our contracted fleet to 32 containerships, but also secure long term charters for all of our vessels currently comprising our contracted fleet. Our contracted revenue has now reached $ 6.5 billion."
Danaos Corporation's current fleet of 36 containerships aggregating 147,472 TEUs ranks Danaos among the largest containership charter owners in the world based on total TEU capacity. Danaos is the largest US listed containership company based on fleet size. The company has a contracted fleet of 32 additional containerships aggregating 217,421 TEU with scheduled deliveries up to 2011.
Source: http://www.marinelog.com/DOCS/NEWSMMVII/2007oct00223.html


FreeSeas Raises $90 million in Transformational Equity Offering
---Debt markets aside, FreeSeas this week successfully priced a followon offering led by Credit Suisse, Cantor Fitzgerald, Oppenheimer and DVB Capital Markets at $8.25 per share. This raised $90.75 million for the company through the sale of 11,000,000 shares while outstanding is an over-allotment option for 1,650,000 additional shares, worth $13.6 million. But this deal is more than just your ordinary follow-on offering.
CEO Ion Varouxakis describes the deal as company-transforming, saying that it is in effect the real IPO for the company. And it is easy to see why. Having begun life as a public company with a paltry $7 million SPAC, this deal, which has already raised $90 million and could raise over $100 million if the over-allotment option is exercised, at long last gives the company the scale to compete as a publicly listed dry bulk company. It provides the company with the funding necessary to pursue acquisitions of secondhand vessels in the handysize and handymax sector. It also provides them with a new investor base that FM understands to be of high quality. In addition to investors gained, the increased size of the company provides it with the visibility necessary to gain analyst coverage and develop their base of potential shareholders.
Free Background
Trinity Partners completed its IPO on August 2, 2004 to raise an incredible $7,877,500, incredible because the deal itself is smaller than the fees we have seen for some shipping IPOs in New York. Trinity sold two series of units. Series A units were issued at $10.50 and included two shares of common stock and a total of ten warrants to purchase common shares at a price of $5.00. Series B units were issued at $10.10 and included two shares of Class B common stock and a total of two warrants to purchase common shares at a price of $5.00. Only Class B shares included the right to vote on a proposed acquisition. HCFB/Brenner Securities acted as bookrunner on this initial transaction.
These transactions are all small enough that they would rarely even be reported, but they provide a fascinating insight into how a very small company can attain the critical mass necessary to become an important player. All the more reason why the deal priced for FreeSeas this week is more than just your ordinary follow-on offering. It was in reality a transformational transaction that has provided the company with a solid platform on which to grow its fleet. We look forward to seeing how the new funds are put to use.
Source: http://www.marinemoney.com/freshlyminted/PDFFiles/2007/FreshlyMinted-Current.pdf


New proposal on track for Hellenic ports' privatization process
---Hellenic state will retain a strategic share percentage and control over the country's two biggest ports in Piraeus and Thessalonica, according to the latest reports on the government's intentions. Both ports have entered a privatization process that so far has remained only in theory, especially after the two-month strike of port workers that almost paralyzed the country at the end of last year. Today, the newly elected government is in search of a way to keep everyone happy, without having to compromise in the core essence of the process, which is to grant access to the ports' handling and operation activities into private foreign investors.
One of these ways is expected to be the concessioning of the ports' activities into a private party, but the simultaneous retaining of a small part of them by the State. This is hoped that will calm the workers' reactions to the whole process, minimizing the risk of a new failure. Nevertheless, the need to increase the ports' competitiveness and modernize their infrastructure is of capital value and importance, given that time isn’t an allay in today's rapidly evolving environment. This new idea will prevent the rising of a private monopoly in Piraeus or Thessalonica, since the State will act as guarantee.
If these plans get the ''green light'', they will be announced until the end of the month, when new boards will be elected. Then the tendering process will set sail at the beginning of next year. Let's hope that this time around, we won't witness the chaotic effects of another strike, which almost caused the closure of several freight forwarders and shipbrokers offices and threatened to provoke irrepearable damage to a number of shipping companies.
Nikos Roussanoglou, Hellenic Shipping News
Source: Friday, 19.10.2007, 12:31am (GMT), http://www.hellenicshippingnews.com


Cargo fraud warning
The second problem with telex releases, says ITIC, results from email fraud. In its Guidelines for the Release of Cargo, ITIC recommends that agents check the authenticity of messages from other agents to release cargo. ITIC has recently been notified of several claims involving telex release by faked emails. These are emails received by discharge port agents which have been manipulated to appear as though they have originated from the load port agent, and authorise release of cargoes and confirm that freight has been received when it has not.
Source: Friday, 26 October 2007, www.mgn.com


Greek cruises for ordinary folks
---Stelios Haji-Ioannou said that easyCruise plans on adding one ship a year to the venture.
By Haris Argyropoulos - Kathimerini English Edition
Serial entrepreneur Stelios Haji-Ioannou, the chairman of easyGroup, is loose again, this time on the Greek seas. After a successful first summer with long weekends in the Cyclades, easyCruise, one of his 17 ventures, has acquired a second, bigger ship and is adding three new itineraries: Classical Greece, a seven-night journey stretching from Cape Sounion to Ithaca, a 10-night trip on the Ionian Sea going as far as the port of Agioi Saranta in Albania, and a seven-night Aegean cruise on the new acquisition, easyCruiseLife, that includes calls at cosmopolitan resorts such as Myconos and Bodrum in Turkey, as well as at Syros, Kos, Samos and Paros.
Unlike traditional cruising, easyCruise sails for just a few hours each morning, giving passengers the opportunity to explore each destination until the next day.
The Classical Greece cruise kicked off yesterday and the other three itineraries will be launched in the spring of 2008.
Haji-Ioannou was interviewed by Kathimerini English Edition.
Greece is not famous for being business-friendly. Did the monster of Greek bureaucracy make it difficult for you to start easyCruise?
I think there are two exceptions to such difficulties in Greece: Shipping and tourism. And the cruise industry is a crossbreed between the two. The fact that we are classified as a shipping company helped a lot. The tourism sector is not necessarily freer of red tape but has a competitive edge, as we have some of the most beautiful islands and cleanest seas and we should exploit this.
What should Greece do to bolster its tourism industry?
Some people argue that not being a cheap country anymore, Greece should focus on attracting wealthier tourists.
Do you enjoy any bits of luxury yourself?
Do you ever fly business or first class?
On long-haul flights. I make this distinction: I think if you fly within Europe, economy class is perfectly adequate, but if you go to America or the Far East, business is worth paying for. After all, I pay out of my own pocket.
Were you surprised at how successful easyJet became so fast?
So, you might describe easyJet as a great leveler
Exactly.
Source: AP, http://www.ekathimerini.com/4dcgi/news/content.asp?aid=89221


Greek Shipping Summit 2007
Thursday, 08 November 2007
LOCATION: Hotel Grande Bretagne, Athens, Greece
The Greek Shipping Summit will unite Greek and international shipowners with charterers, bankers and financiers, lawyers and lawmakers, regulators, port authorities, shipbuilders and representatives of class societies from all major world maritime centres.
CONTACT: Greek Liaison Office
WEB SITE: http://www.greekshippingsummit.com
EMAIL: amaroid@otenet.gr
PHONE: +30 210 921 4205
FAX: +30 210 921 4675
Source: press release


MIG Shipping submits public offers for remaining stakes in Attica Group, Blue Star Shipping
---MIG Shipping SA, a subsidiary of Marfin Investment Group, on Wednesday submitted public offers for the purchase of the remaining stakes in the Attica Group and Blue Star Shipping companies, at prices of 5.5 euros per share and 3.83 euros per share, respectively.
A MIG Shipping statement said it planned to maintain the two companies' listing on the Athens Stock Exchange.
MIG Shipping seeks to purchase the remaining 47.74 pct equity stake in Attica Group and the remaining 51.15 percent equity stake in Blue Star Shipping.
Source: http://www.hri.org/news/greek/ana/2007/07-10-25.ana.html#27