Greek Shipping News Cuts
Week 46 - 2007

 

Tax threat worries London Greeks

Hellenic shipping controls four-fifths of the global dry cargo market, and Greece is still the leading merchant shipping nation.
Greeks dominate ship sector
One London-based Greek investment banker said the proposed charge meant that he would not stay in London after having worked there for seven years.
When the sting is cumulative
The government should be consulting the key lobbying organisations such as the Baltic Exchange and the Chamber of Shipping about the proposed changes, he advised. While a lot of media attention has been devoted to the reaction of ship owners, Barrow pointed out that a large group of less wealthy people could also be affected by the charge.
Barrow noted that the government has published a residence and domicile review on its HM Revenue and Customs website: hmrc.gov.uk/pbr2007/pbrn18.pdf.
And Westminister is inviting comments, he added, advising the shipping sector to be free in doing so.
Source: http://www.fairplay.co.uk/secure/display.aspx?articlename=fpnw20071115019nw&phrase=greek


Speech by Panos Leivadas: Greece Today - Successes and New Priorities
**** SPEECH BY MR. PANOS LEIVADAS SECRETARY GENERAL OF INFORMATION, MINISTRY OF STATE 9th ANNUAL CAPITAL LINK FORUM, NEW YORK CITY, 11/09/2007
On the front of great blessings now, I would like to say -especially when many Greek Americans are among us- just a few words about this over pouring of fellowship, of togetherness as all of Greece, all of Greeks from around the world (and, of course, from the United States) came together with a stronger sense of patriotism. It is only telling that, so far, the Special Fund for Urgent Situations has gathered $200m in actual deposited money (and I repeat, deposited money, not pledges). For starters, this amount will be used towards the reconstruction of the houses; in other words, affected citizens will have their houses built free of charge. The project will start within the next few weeks. Last, funds coming from the European Union for that specific cause will also help towards the reconstruction of affected areas.
ECONOMIC DEVELOPMENT
It is the Greek economy, however, which has financed, for the biggest part, the compensation and reconstruction effort. Growing at an especial fast rate in the last couple of years, it now allows for funds to be directed towards urgent needs or social causes. But allow me, at this point, to say just a few words on the state of the Greek economy. After all, we will shortly have the pleasure and the honor to hear much more on that by our keynote speaker, Minister of Economy and Finance, Mr. Alogoskoufis.
Last, my country played an important role in the creation of the European Energy Community (in October 2005) that establishes a single energy market in South-Eastern Europe and promotes cooperation and solidarity.
Second, Greece has maximized its distinct advantage in shipping and the maritime industry, with great economic results. With the Greek-owned fleet being the largest in the world and approximately 300 new ships currently being built, Greece transfers an increasing number of commercial goods and oil globally. Greece, thus, provides an important strategic asset at the same time that it is turning itself into an important distribution hub. In fact, the $4bn Protocol with the European Investment Bank to upgrade our ports adds to the list of promising developments that have already started to transform our ports.
Third, Greece is a credible financial and business center in its neighbourhood, holding the position of the leading foreign investor in Albania and F.Y.R.O.M. and ranking among the first three in Bulgaria, Romania, and Serbia. With more than 3.600 Greek companies in the area and Greek investments exceeding so far $16bn, we are the base for reaching out to a market of 160mn consumers, in all of Southeastern Europe.
- brisk GDP growth rate of 4,3% in 2006 and 4,4% in the first half of 2007
- budget deficit down to 2,5% of GDP from 7,8% in 2004
- unemployment rate reduced from 11,3% in early 2004 to 8,9% in 2006 and 7,8% in July 2007 (creating 250.000 new jobs, 80% of which in the private sector!)
- receding inflation rate, at 2,9% in September.
A VIVID EXAMPLE
Like I said, the great blessing of fellowship and togetherness that came out of the fires is explicit both in the Greeks of the homeland and the Greeks or Greek-Americans of the United States. Your bond to the Patrida, to the homeland was put to test only to make it clear that it is growing stronger and stronger. It is this bond, nevertheless, that we need to foster. The government of the New Democracy and Prime Minister Karamanlis have already taken steps towards this direction: the Diaspora Greeks will have the right to vote in the Greek National Elections.
POLICY OF REFORMS
Source: Posted on Monday, November 12 @ 11:21:50 EST by greek_news


Transman order failure scrutinised for signs of things to come
---The collapse of an order for panamax containerships has fuelled speculation that the first tangible sign of the US credit crunch has hit the shipping markets - but the Greek shipowner involved in the deal says that is not the case.
Greek owner Transman Shipping Enterprises confirms it was about to sign an order for one optional and three firm 4,250-teu ships at Samsung Heavy Industries but says the deal stalled on chartering arrangements.
Transman managing director Markos Barlas denies market speculation that the deal failed at the last minute after it was turned down by a German bank for financing.
"We did not get a sufficient charter rate to get the ships," Barlas said, adding that the project's failure had nothing to do with financing and that there was no German bank involved. He says Transman mostly does business with the Royal Bank of Scotland (RBS), while other market sources say it also uses Greek banks.
TradeWinds understands that Transman and Taiwanese line Yang Ming were unable to reach an agreement over 15-year charter rates for the ships, which would have been delivered in 2010 and 2011.
The collapse of deal over charter disagreements would not be unusual but some financial sources still believe the failure may stem partly from the view that the market is weakening - either because of the cost of financing or a need to secure higher charter rates to cover borrowings.
As many as 15 to 20 ships in various newbuilding deals are thought to be coming up as potential resale candidates as a result of the German credit squeeze. Most are said to be supramax bulkers and boxships.
Market commentators do not believe Transman's contract at Samsung flopped because of the owner's risk exposure to shipping but some add that it will get harder for smaller owners to get credit than larger blue-chip outfits.
Athens-based Transman has four boxships - a 30-year-old, 300-teu feeder, a 2,000-teu ship and 3,000-teu ship built in the 1980s and a 1,600-teu unit built in 1995, according to AXS-Alphaliner.
Barlas says the company has not turned its back on the newbuilding project, adding that it is now a question of finding new slots and reaching an agreement with charterers over the numbers.
However, some shipping banks in Germany have put a cap on lending, are slowing activity or are reducing the size of loans. The trend may spread with the affects of the US credit-crunch.
Shipbuilding sources say newbuilding activity may not slow down because genuine buyers are still interested in ordering vessels but they add that owners may have to pay more cash upfront than the previous practice of just 5% to 10%.
Irene Ang,Yiota Gousas and Paul Berrill Singapore, Athens and London, published: 16 November 2007
Source: www.tradewinds.no


Hellenic Carriers AIM Float To Raise $60 Million
---LONDON -(Dow Jones)- Hellenic Carriers said Monday it intends to seek admission of its shares to trading on AIM.
Hellenic owns and operates a fleet of dry bulk vessels that transport iron ore, coal, grain, steel products, cement, alumina, and other dry bulk cargoes worldwide. Its current fleet consists of four vessels, comprising three panamaxes and one handymax.
The Company has also contracted to acquire a supramax (a larger handymax vessel) which is scheduled for delivery between 1 March and Apr. 30, 2008. Including the new supramax vessel to be delivered, Hellenic Carriers' fleet has an aggregate carrying capacity of 298,761 dwt and a weighted average age of 12.9 years as at Nov. 1, 2007.
Jefferies International Limited has been appointed as nominated adviser, global coordinator and bookrunner.
NBG International will act as lead manager in relation to the Placing.
Admission is expected late November 2007.
The placing is expected to raise $60 million for the company, before expenses. The company expects to use $31 million of the net proceeds of the Placing for part payment of the supramax and for the remainder to be used for working capital purposes, to partially reduce existing indebtedness and, if the prevailing market conditions are favourable to do so, the funding of future vessel acquisitions.
Source: 11-12-07 4:12 AM EST Edited Press Release, http://news.morningstar.com/news/ViewNews.asp?article=/DJ/200711120412DOWJONESDJONLINE000068_univ.xml&Cat=Stks2Watch


Navios MLP Prices at Midpoint in Troubled Market
---Navios Maritime Partners (NMP)priced this week at $20, the midpoint of its range, to raise $200 million through the sale of 10 million shares, with a 1.5 million share over-allotment option currently outstanding. The deal was led byMerrill Lynch and JPMorgan, with the underwriting team rounded out by Cantor Fitzgerald, S. Goldman
Advisors, who advised International Shipping Enterprises on its SPAC IPO, and DVB, who also provided the debt on the deal and whow has worked on a handful of IPOs in recent months since getting licensed and establishing a full compliance platform.
NMP is being formed to acquire from parent company Navios six panamax and one capesize vessel, the initial fleet shown in the table that accompanies this article, with two additional newbuildings to be acquired in 2008 and 2009. Upon the delivery of the first of these vessels the fleet will have an average age of just 5.5 years and average charter duration of 5.2 years. Major charter counterparties for the ships in recent years include Cargill, Sanko Steamship, Mitsui OSK, Augustea Imprese Maritime e di Salvataggi, American Bulk Transport and COSCO Bulk Carrier Corp.
The success of the deal in the current market environment is a testament to the ability and reputation of Angeliki Frangou as well as
Source: www.marinemoney.gr Freshly Minted Weekly, 15 Nov 2007


TOP Tankers Announces Delivery of the First Drybulk Vessel
The M/V BERTRAM is the first of six drybulk vessel deliveries for the fourth quarter 2007 and first quarter 2008. The BERTRAM has entered into a time-charter employment for a period of 24-26 months at a daily net rate of $29,700.
Source: Press Release, Top tankers


Battle of the seas at Sea Star Cyprus
-- Vardinoyiannis to become SEAS Chairman next Thursday
An ambitious attempt by Sea Star Capital Pcl (SEAS) to raise up to EUR 70 mln from Cypriot investors risks failure following allegations by an arch-rival accusing Sea Star majority shareholder Ioannis Vardinoyiannis of committing many irregularities that will hurt the interests of small investors.
Ventouris further accused the CySEC of being lax with the SEAS rights issue and said there are many irregularities in the prospectus. He also questioned how SEAS purchased a 15% stake in another Greek shipping company, ANEK, which is controlled by Vardinoyiannis and the person who sold the 15% ANEK shares to SEAS was Amalia Vardinoyiannis, who pocketed EUR 58 mln in the process.
In the meantime, a number of investors who bought rights at EUR 0.12-0.15 burned their fingers as the rights ceased trading at only EUR 0.01 and now they have to pay EUR 0.26 to exercise the rights into shares, at a time when the value of the shares is EUR 0.26.
Meanwhile, the SEAS camp maintained a total ban on statements, with a simple statement issued through the CSE that did not answer any of the allegations.
-- Prospectus is clean
In response to the Ventouris allegations that the SEAS prospectus was not prepared properly and does not contain significant information on action taken from the time the six month results were announced until the capital raising issue started, SFS Group Chairman Christodoulos Ellinas hotly denied the charge and said Group member Sharelink stands by the way the SEAS prospectus was prepared and after approval from the CySEC, allowed to be made public.
Ellinas however, did not wish to make further comments on the matter.
However, an SFS official who wished to remain anonymous said in response to one of the charges made by Ventouris at the way Amalia Vardinoyiannis sold the 15% stake in ANEK to SEAS at EUR 2.50 per share, that since Vardinoyiannis has committed himself to subscribe EUR 61 mln out of the second issue of EUR 100 mln earmarked for institutional investors, it was decided with the consent of the CySEC that he be allowed a delay to receive the relevant shares until the whole issue was completed, otherwise there was a risk that the CSE takeover rules would come into play since his stake before the new issue would climb to above 51%.
-- Vardinoyiannis new Chairman
The same source poured cold water on the allegations by Ventouris, which he said may only force a number of Cypriot investors not to participate in the rights issue. But since the board has the right to offer all unexercised shares to other investors, probably lined up in Greece, most of the issue will be successful without offering any tangible proof that this will be done, he added.
As for the allegations that Amalia Vardinoyiannis had insider knowledge when she bought SEAS (previously Megabet) and made a EUR 7 mln profit and later sold the ANEK shares, the same source said this is an issue for the CySEC to investigate and does not concern the company.
If the ANEK shares are marked to market as of November 7, then SEAS has a loss of EUR 8 mln on its stake, which is well above the total share capital of EUR 5.7 mln as stated in the prospectus, meaning that not only is SEAS loss making, but it has a negative net worth, Ventouris had claimed.
The same SFS source said that SEAS will probably use the equity accounting system, whereby it takes part of the profits of ANEK and is not concerned with its day-to-day valuation on the stock exchange.
On Monday (Nov. 12), ANEK reported record 9M profits of EUR 24 mln, which surpassed the total profit of 2006.
-- Other charges
Ventouris further alleged that part of the proceeds from the rights issue will be used for the payment of six ships of RO/RO type belonging to Costas Agapitos, leased by ANEK from Agapitos who also faces penalties of EUR 5 mln imposed by the Greek authorities for breaking the Famagusta port embargo.
At the time of going to press, the CySEC had not issued any statement to counter the allegations made by Ventouris.
Source: 14/11/2007, http://www.financialmirror.com/more_news.php?id=8919&type=st


WFW enters Athens for renewable energy push
---Julia Berris
Watson Farley & Williams (WFW) has launched an office in Athens to focus on its global renewable energy capabilities.
The new office head, dual UK and Greek-qualified energy partner Virginia Murray, will move to Athens with her team, which joined WFW from rival firm IKRP Rokas & Partner in March this year.
Murray said: "We've been based in the firm's Piraeus office, which is primarily a shipping practice.
"This is doing extremely well, but for renewable energy we need to be in Athens, where all the banking clients for renewable energy work are based."
Murray added that the launch in Athens will boost client perception of the firm's renewable energy capabilities by providing an on-the-ground presence in a key European city for the sector.
"I think this sector is likely to be extremely lucrative going forward. We've been tremendously busy and we expect this to continue and we'll be building up the office," she said.
The office will launch with four partners and three associates, with Murray hoping to expand the team during the next year.
Earlier this year (18 June) The Lawyer revealed that WFW is in exploratory merger talks with US firm Chadbourne & Parke. Managing partner Michael Greville said the US firm's strength in renewable energy would fit well with WFW's renewed focus in this industry.
The firm's launch in Athens comes as WFW moves to larger premises in Rome, recruiting four new senior associates to the office.
Source: 12-Nov-2007, http://www.thelawyer.com/cgi-bin/item.cgi?id=129865&d=415&h=417&f=416


Piraeus port an appealing investment for foreigners
NIKOS BARDOUNIAS
Recently, Maersk officials repeated their interest in the Port of Piraeus, noting however that they would wait for a fresh tender procedure to be announced. The tender, according to reports, may include certain changes in the requirements envisaged to bar the emergence of monopolies, which would otherwise have a negative impact on treating all of the interested companies on an equal footing.
Jiafu is said to have reiterated in his letter a Cosco proposal for investing in the Piraeus port, with regard to both the container station and land areas to be used for assembly operations of electrical appliances. China has repeatedly underlined its interest in the Piraeus port, wishing to transform it into a transit hub for Chinese products destined for the Balkans and the rest of Europe.
Officials from ZIM, one of the largest container shipping companies in the world, have been making certain plans, insisting on their intention to raise container operations in the port of Piraeus by 100,000 containers on an annual basis. The Israelis have made it clear in a number of ways that their presence in Piraeus is imperative, given that they have been using the port in recent years as a second central port in cases of hostilities or industrial action taking place in their region.
An updated business plan for the container station includes the completion of the Pier I infrastructure, to be equipped with advanced container loading-unloading and stacking machinery to enable facilities to serve new-generation vessels of capacities of over 10,000 TEU.
Source: http://www.ekathimerini.com/4dcgi/news/content.asp?aid=89984


Indo Greek trade to reach one billion euros by 2010
---Expressing the hope that the fifth session of Indo-Greek Joint Economic committee would pave the way for enhancing bilateral trade ties between the two countries, India's Commerce and Industry Minister Kamal Nath called for working towards doubling trade between India and Greece to reach and exceed one billion euros by 2010.
Welcoming Petros Doukas, deputy foreign minister of Greece, who called on him here, Kamal Nath observed that trade between the two countries has shown a robust growth in the last two years.
Inviting Greek entrepreneurs to invest in the development of India's infrastructure sector over the next decade to build and develop various projects in energy, railways, highways and shipping, Kamal Nath hoped that once the renegotiations of double-taxation avoidance agreement (DTAA) and the implementation of Bilateral Investment Promotion and Protection Agreement (BIPA) are complete, it would encourage investments in both countries.
He briefed the visiting members of the delegation about India being an established global service provider in the field of IT and software, and expressed hope for Indo-Greek cooperation in this sector.
Indian exports to Greece were 564.09 million dollars in the year 2005-06, which rose to 672.03 million dollars in the year 2006-07, achieving an increase of 20 percent.
The main exports to Greece from India include petroleum (crude and products), transport equipment, marine products and cotton yarn, while the main imports consist of metalifers ores and metal scraps.
Senior officials from the government of Greece along with members of business community were also present at the meeting. --IRNA
Source: Posted: 2007/11/15, http://mathaba.net/news/?x=570934


Europe to start buying Azeri Gas via Turkey bypassing Russia
---Monday, November 18, leaders from Greece, Turkey, the United States, Azerbaijan, Georgia, and Italy will officially launch a new Turkey-Greece pipeline project along the Maritza River. The 300-kilometer-long natural gas pipeline will carry Azerbaijani gas to Europe, bypassing Russia. According to Turkish Energy Ministry officials, this will be the first time Caspian gas will reach Europe without going through Russia.
Azerbaijani gas will flow to Europe through this Southern Caspian corridor thanks to Turkish cooperation. The achievement will send a message to the Caspian states that they do not need to solely depend on Russia either in exporting their hydrocarbon resources to Europe or in meeting their energy needs, said Ankara-based Western energy analysts.
Although Turkey has emphasized its desire to become an East-West energy transit route for carrying Caspian gas and oil to Europe, meeting its growing domestic needs remains its priority concern, said the Turkish Energy Ministry sources. In addition, Turkey does not want to rely on a single country for nearly one-third of its energy needs, especially not Russia and Iran.
In July of this year, Turkey received the first shipment of natural gas via the 1,050-km Erzerum line from the $4 billion Shah-Deniz project under a 15-year deal signed with Azerbaijan in March 2001. Shah-Deniz will supply 1.3-1.4 bcm of gas to Turkey and 0.3-0.4 bcm to Georgia in 2007. The maximum annual exports during the project's first stage will amount to 6.6 bcm to Turkey and 0.8 bcm to Georgia in 2009-2020.
BP has a 25.5% share in the Shah Deniz group alongside Statoil (25.5%), Iran's OIEC (10%), TotalFinaElf (10%), the Russian-Italian joint venture LukAgip (10%), Turkey's TPAO (9%), and Azerbaijan's state oil company SOCAR (10%0.
Turkey, meanwhile, has benefited from the $4 billion Baku-Tbilisi-Ceyhan (BTC) pipeline to take oil from the Caspian Sea to the Mediterranean, sidestepping major energy producer Russia while also bypassing the Turkish controlled strategic and busy Bosporus and the Dardanelles Straits.
Source: By Lale Sariibrahimoglu, Thursday, November 15, 2007, http://jamestown.org/edm/article.php?article_id=2372595


CORRECTED-UPDATE 3-Fuel spill closes San Francisco beaches
---(Corrects Cosco Busan's ownership in paragraph 8 to Greek firm Synergy Maritime from China COSCO Holdings)
By Amanda Beck
SAN FRANCISCO, Nov 7 (Reuters) - A container ship bound for China struck a fog-shrouded tower of San Francisco's Bay Bridge on Wednesday morning, causing a fuel spill and forcing the closure of several San Francisco beaches, officials said.
People near the spill reported suffering headaches and nausea as they breathed air containing vaporized oil, but public health officials said the fumes were not likely to have long-term health effects.
Four picturesque beaches on both sides of the landmark Golden Gate Bridge -- Baker, Fort Point, China, and Crissy Field -- were closed, according to the U.S. Coast Guard.
"There is a sheen in the water. It is bunker fuel," said Coast Guard Petty Officer Kevin Neff about oil used to propel the ship.
As of Wednesday evening, investigators were still trying to determine the cause of the accident and how much fuel had spilled into the bay. Early reports had described the leak as 3-feet (1-metre) wide.
Wil Bruhns, supervising engineer of San Francisco Bay Regional Water Quality Control Board, said the oil could pose a threat to wildlife like seals, fish and birds.
"Bunker fuel oil tends to be rather heavy, and it doesn't float as well as other oil. It's harder to contain," Bruhns said.
The Cosco Busan, owned by Greek firm Synergy Maritime, left the Port of Oakland at 6:31 a.m. on Wednesday and about two hours later hit a fender around a support tower on an especially foggy morning.
Transportation officials said part of the fender would need to be replaced, but said the incident did not damage the bridge and traffic continued to flow.
The Bay Bridge is a vital transportation link between San Francisco, Oakland and Berkeley. Ships heading into the Pacific Ocean travel under the Bay Bridge and then the Golden Gate Bridge before reaching the high seas. (Additional reporting by Adam Tanner)
Source: * Reuters* Wednesday November 14 2007, http://www.guardian.co.uk/feedarticle?id=7076290


This is exactly the crisis facing South Korea's Hanjin Group which chartered the ship, Cosco Busan, from the Greek firm Synergy Maritime. As the tanker ship left the Port of Oakland amid dense fog on the morning of November 7, it struck a fender support on the Oakland Bay Bridge. The collision caused a gash in the ship spilling 58,000 gallons (220,000 liters) of fuel into the San Francisco Bay. Now, a week later, the spill has forced closure of some of the region's most famous beaches, such as Crissy Field overlooking the Golden Gate Bridge and Baker Beach on the Pacific Ocean.
Source: San Diego, CA 92150-3016, November 14 2007, http://www.expertclick.com/NewsReleaseWire/default.cfm?Action=ReleaseDetail&ID=18773