Greek Shipping News Cuts
Week 02 - 2008
---Wednesday, 09.01.2008, 12:47am (GMT)
With December figures just finalized, the total outcome of Hellenic shipping companies in newbuildings during 2007 is simply breathtaking. An estimated $32 billion was reportedly invested mainly in dry bulk carriers, almost doubling the record investment set in 2006 with approximately $16.5 billion of newbuilding investment. According to the latest report by G.Moundreas & Co., about $1.68 billion was invested by 11 companies for 33 vessels, out of which 27 were dry bulk carriers. The numbers have been reduced from November when 43 vessels were contracted for almost $2.2 billion, but this mainly due to the holidays, when a natural slowdown in activity was noted. For the whole of 2007, it is estimated that Hellenic shipowners contracted about 555 vessels, representing about 15% of the total fleet owned by Hellenic interests. What is most notable during this last year, is the rapid and quite intense turn towards dry bulk carriers. Regarding the latest concerns on the middle-term outlook of the dry freight market, especially with regards to the impact expected to be generated by the subprime loans crisis, Moundreas notes that for the moment, no consequences are observed in the supply-demand ratio. Furthermore, the recent surge of freights in the wet market (tankers) has helped to cool off the interest in conversions of tanker into bulk carriers, which almost reached 100 units by the end of the year. As to what is in store during 2008, January is expected to actively set the pace of the market, at least regarding the investment prospects and dynamics regarding newbuildings. Moundreas report comments that at present no visible factors are able to act negatively in terms of investment appetite, with demand being quite high.
Among the companies placing orders during December was Aegean Bulk, part of NY-listed Aegean Marine Petroleum. The company contracted a pair of Supramaxes (59,0000-dwt), with an en-bloc price of $92 million. Both vessels are scheduled for delivery during 2011. Also, Thenamaris, part of the Martinos family group of shipping companies, ordered another pair of supramaxes (57,000-dwt) at Taizhou, for delivery during 2009. The investment is believed to stand at about $90 million.
Nikos Roussanoglou, Hellenic Shipping News
Aegean Petroleum to start bunkering operations in West Africa
---Jan 10, 2008. Aegean Marine Petroleum S.A. will soon start bunkering operations in West Africa following the arrival of its permanent floating storage vessel.
The 70,000 metric tonne (mt) capacity double-hulled tanker FOS will be anchored off Tema, Ghana, and Aegean said it would be ready to commence operations on January 15, 2008.
The company's bunkering operations will be carried out on a 24 hour basis with two delivery vessels.
One is the Aegean Tulip, a 1993-built 4,853 dwt double-hull bunkering tanker recently deployed from Gibraltar to West Africa.
The Aegean Tulip has a cargo capacity of 3,200 mt for fuel oil and 700 mt gas oil, and a pumping rate of 500 mt per hour (mt/h).
The company will also use the Aegean VII, a vessel with 3,300 mt fuel oil and 500 mt gas oil cargo capacity and a pumping rate of 300 mt/h.
Aegean said its new supply station will offer all grades of marine fuel oil and gas oil meeting ISO8217: 2005 specifications.
"The offshore location of the m/t FOS is conveniently located along the very busy shipping lanes of West Africa and offers a very cost-effective bunkering option for vessels calling at various ports ranging from the Ivory Coast, Togo, Benin, Nigeria, Cameroon, Equatorial Guinea, Gabon, Angola all the way to Namibia," the company said in a statement.
Offshore supplies along the coast of West Africa will be offered, subject to barge availability and dependent on quantity.
Aegean said it would increase its delivery capabilities with two additional vessels "in the very near future."
Aegean Marine, through its wholly owned subsidiary Aegean Bunkering (Ghana) Ltd, will have offices in Tema handling operations and logistics. It is also fully licensed to act as agent for vessels calling all ports in Ghana.
The Ghana office will not handle bunker enquiries, which will be dealt with by Aegean's usual sales offices.
The Greece-based international marine fuel logistics company is also expecting to begin operations at its new service centre in the UK during the first quarter of 2008.
The company bought the Portland bunkering station, situated on the UK's south coast, late in 2007, after the oil major BP ceased its activities at the port. [ http://www.bunkerworld.com ]
Elmira flying First Class
---A Greek player hopes its new public vehicle will hook US investors.
Elmira Shipping&Trading of Greece has invaded New York with its Wall Street vehicle, First Class Navigation Corp.
The blank-cheque initial public offering (IPO) aims to raise between $150m and $170m in gross proceeds from investors and is led by specialist maritime-investment bank Dahlman Rose, plus blank-cheque specialist Ladenburg Thalmann, according to papers filed with US securities regulators as TradeWinds went to press.
Dimitrios Souvlaras, 41, Elmira's chief executive, will lead First Class Navigation as chairman and chief executive. His elder brother, Georgios Souvlaras, 44, who is Elmira's technical director, will serve First Class as chief operating officer.
Besides the Souvlaras brothers, Elmira's Alexandros Politis-Kalenteris, 33, will adorn the office of chief financial officer in First Class.
The members of this triumvirate hold, respectively, 45%, 45% and 10% of the shares in First Fleet Ltd, the company that controls First Class. After the IPO, these holdings are meant to drop to 9%, 9% and 2%.
Independent board directors include Doric Shipbrokers co-founder Vasilis Mouyis, maritime information-technology executive Antonis Tavoularis, Callimanopoulos group veteran Alexis Nichols, container and aviation-finance man James Walsh and Class NK's Aristeidis Dalakas.
Elmira has distinguished itself in the sale-and-purchase (S&P) market mostly on the sale side of late, with notable exits from the bulker and reefer sectors. The company's greatest current exposure is in chemical tankers.
First Class is being formed to acquire an existing shipowning company or fleet. IPO proceeds revert to investors if no deal is done within 24 months, with a possible extension once an acquisition target is identified. As usual, each investor acquires both shares and warrants, which are call options for more shares, exercisible at a set strike price after the envisaged acquisition takes place.
One wrinkle in the blank-cheque template is that First Class will allow some 30% of investors to cash out and walk away in case they disapprove of an acquisition target proposed by the company's management. Normally, disapproval by 20% of shareholders is enough to scuttle an acquisition proposal.
Under the rules of the blank-cheque IPO game, no target company has been identified as yet. Elmira has experience operating a wide range of tonnage types and its new public vehicle has not tied itself down yet to any single shipping sector. However, the company's prospectus identifies products tankers and bulkers as presenting "certain advantages compared to certain other sectors" at present.
Shipping is a sector that has been especially successful for promoters of blank-cheque ventures. Navios Maritime, Star Bulk and Oceanaut have all consummated acquisitions after beginning as blank-cheque companies. The still unconsummated Seanergy Maritime completed its IPO in September 2007.
Commissions and discounts for the underwriters come to $10.5m assuming over-allotments are exercised.
Ladenburg Thalmann, a veteran New York investment bank, has a history dating back to the Gilded Age but is apparently a newcomer to maritime IPOs. It touts itself on its website as "the leader in underwriting specified-purpose acquisition companies (Spacs) for experienced management teams". It has some 30 such offerings under its belt since December 2005.
By Bob Rust , Stamford, published: 11 January 2008
Oceanfreight Inc. Announces the Acquisition of Eleventh Vessel
---January 10, 2008 - Athens, Greece - OceanFreight Inc., (NASDAQ:OCNF) a global provider of seaborne transportation services announced the acquisition of its eleventh vessel.
The Company announced it has agreed to acquire a 1996 built 149,085 dwt double-hull Suezmax tanker from interests associated with George Economou for $65 million, thereby expanding its fleet to eleven vessels.
Mr. Kandylidis, the Chief Executive Officer of OceanFreight commented: "I am very pleased to announce the acquisition of our eleventh vessel, which immediately increases our revenue and cash flow generation capacity while allowing us to expand further into the tanker sector.
About OceanFreight Inc. OceanFreight, Inc. a global provider of seaborne transportation services through the ownership and operation of vessels in various shipping sectors. The Company owns a fleet of 10 vessels, consisting of 1 Capesize bulk carrier, 8 Panamax bulk carriers, and 1 Aframax tanker with a total carrying capacity of approximately 830.000 deadweight tons.
The Company's shares are listed on the NASDAQ Global Select Market and trades under the symbol "OCNF."
Visit our website at www.oceanfreightinc.com
Panayiotides set to cement Quintana acquisition
---US-listed Gabriel 'Villy' Panayiotides-controlled Excel Maritime Carriers has reportedly signed an agreement to purchase bulk ship owner Quintana Maritime, also listed in the US. January 11, a confirmation announcement is pending.
Excel Maritime is said to have paid $27 a share for around 56m shares in the first merger and acquisition deal between Greek companies trading on the US stock market.
It is not clear how the deal is structured in terms of how payment will be divided between cash and shares. Details about management changes linked to the takeover are also unknown while there are reports a private Greek company is also involved, which Newsfront understands is the Restis group, led by Victor Restis. Excel is said to have finally beaten-off New York-listed Diana Shipping, controlled by Simeon Palios.
If the price is confirmed Excel, which controls a fleet of 18 bulkers, the $1.512bn being paid is less than was originally touted, which analysts say indicates a top heavy cash deal. Quintana controls a mixed-size fleet of 29 modern bulkers and newbuilding contracts, and though Panayiotides has been a leading bidder for the Glyfada, Athens-based Quintana since early December, soon after it was reported to be up for sale, prices mentioned have ranged from $1.7bn to $2.2bn.
The deal makes Panayiotides, very much a hands-on owner, a powerful force in bulk shipping. He controls US-listed 'blank cheque' company Oceanaut Inc and interests he controls own around 52.22% of Copenhagen-listed D/S Torm, a major operator of bulk carriers, tankers and offshore vessels. Restis is a 30% investor in Oceanaut. As the bidding process progressed, Panayiotides was a frequent visitor to Copenhagen as he kept Torm informed of developments.
Panayiotides recently relocated his operation, including owning/management company Maryville Maritime Inc, from Piraeus' Akti Miaouli to Nea Kifissia, north Athens.
As news of 'the deal' broke, Quintana's share price rose to $26.19 a share, just under the bid price, and up 16% on the previous close, though still below the recent average. Excel's stock was trading at a holding of just over $33 a share, way below its high for $80 a share.
Analysts Wachovia Securities believe they could benefit the bulk carrier sector generally as speculation grows of further mergers and acquisitions among listed and unlisted companies.
Source: www.newsfront.gr, 11 January 2008 Vol. 9 / No. 1
Building family fortunes
The Frangos family has been in the shipping business for hundreds of years, its historical trail yielding records by the late 1800s when it was operating sailing ships around the Mediterranean and Black Sea. Chios, a pawn on the Mediterranean chessboard which has been occupied by various powers through the years, was under Turkish control at this time.
Historical tradition has now moved to the cutting edge, as Soros Fund Management, chaired by George Soros, announced that it has acquired a stake of almost 6% in Navios Maritime Partners (NMM), a value adding offshoot of NM that launched an IPO in mid-November.
Originally built for Shell Oil, the large vessel was traded until it was torpedoed during action near Hydra at the start of World War II.
The two listed Navios entities, meanwhile, have a market capitalisation of roughly $1.75Bn. Quite a transformation, indeed. Barry Parker
Source: Shoes And Ships, Fairplay International Shipping Weekly, 10 Jan 2008
Greek Passage to India
---Karamanlis sees potential for growth of Greece-India relations
12 January 2008 - Issue : 764
Greek Prime Minister costas Karamanlis on January 10 began his four-day India visit, consolidating business and political ties between the two countries. During a luncheon in his honour hosted by the local business chambers, the Greek premier outlined the potential for further developing economic relations and trade between Greece and India.
In the tourism sector, the prime minister said that the target was to increase the flow of visitors between the two countries and to attract more Indian tourists to Greece, adding that a direct flight between Greece and India could contribute in that direction.
Political relations between Greece and India were excellent, while their economic relations were growing at a rapid pace, Karamanlis said, but added that large margins existed for further improving cooperation.
Foreign ministry officials said there existed a considerable potential for growth of two-way trade. Indian exports to Greece in 2006-2007 amounted to USD 672.51 million while imports from Greece were about USD 209.66 million. Both sides have set a target of reaching USD one billion within the next three years.
The visit of the Greek Prime Minister to India follows the visit of former Indian President APJ Abdul Kalam to Greece in April 2007.
Piraeus prefect opposes port privatisation plan
---The prefect of Piraeus, Yiannis Mihas on Tuesday expressed his opposition to government plans to privatize the cargo terminal of the Piraeus Port Organization, during a meeting with Merchant Marine Minister George Voulgarakis.
During the meeting the Greek minister briefed the prefect of Piraeus over a decision to privatize the cargo terminal, while Mihas presented the prefecture's plan to create a zone of innovation, enterpreunship and culture in the area, in cooperation with the municipality of Piraeus and the Piraeus Port Organization.
Speaking to reporters, after the meeting, Mihas expressed his satisfaction over the meeting and noted that the port of Piraeus should maintain its public character. He said that the prefecture supported port workers' views and will stand beside them in their strike actions.
Meanwhile, the Association of Retail Sales Enterprises (SELPE), in an announcement to the press on Tuesday said that if the government was not ready and determined to proceed with a privatization of the country's two largest ports, it would be best not to begin any procedure. "The Greek economy cannot afford the troubles suffered in winter 2006, when the government failed to promote a previous plan to privatize the ports," SELPE said, adding that it agreed with the privatization plan and urged the government to complete a social dialogue with all interested parties.
Greek police clash with dockworkers
---Sat, 12 Jan 2008 03:24:40
Riot police clash with protestors in Piraeus.
Greek riot police clash with striking dockworkers during a protest against a planned privatization of container terminal facilities.
The protest was held on Friday at the port of Piraeus. There were no arrests but four people were injured, AP reported.
Police fired tear gas to break up about 500 dockworkers at the entrance to the port - which is Greece's largest - when a delegation of strikers tried to break a barricade to negotiate with harbor officials. This led to the protesters throwing stones and setting rubbish bins on fire.
Dockworkers held a 24-hour strike on Friday and also called for a two-day strike for Tuesday and Wednesday.
This is while last month, Merchant Marine Minister, George Voulgarakis had said that the conservative government would initiate a bidding process for the management contract of two of the three container wharfs in Piraeus, and for the entire container terminal in the northern port of Thessaloniki.
Piraeus is among the ten largest ports in Europe, and is the largest port for commercial traffic in the eastern Mediterranean.
Modernization of ports seen to be imperative
He said the plans include concession agreements to private operators for two container terminals in Piraeus (one existing and one planned), while the Piraeus Port Authority (OLP) will retain operations in one existing terminal.
His speech was interrupted by protesting dockers who entered the venue and unfolded banners with slogans.
Vlachos said the current period is particularly crucial for the port industry worldwide, as developments will determine future operating conditions.
The conference heard that current developments in the port industry have created a new reality which gives Greece a comparative advantage due to its large shipping industry and geographical proximity to the Black Sea.
It was argued that China and India are showing strong interest in increasing trade with the countries of the former Soviet Union and the Black Sea, while demand for container management in the region and the eastern Mediterranean is projected to rise 137 percent by 2015.
Turkey, Syria and Egypt have already implemented concession agreements for their container ports in order to tap the favorable trends.
P&I Conference - Piraeus Marine Club: 24 January 2008
The Piraeus Marine Club has great pleasure in announcing to its members that the 8th International P&I Conference will take place at its premises on the 24th January 2008.
The topics will be as follows:
1. What is the future of mutuality in light of the pool claims experience in 2006?
2. Crew scarcity & employment of inexperienced labour: Is this a time bomb waiting to explode and what will its impact be on the P&I Clubs and the Pool?
a) Does it require two tranches of recapitalisation? Was it sufficiently capitalised at the outset and has the risk been priced correctly hitherto?
b) Was it wise of the Group to increase the Pool retention from $30m to $50m and is it resulting in the benefits of collective reinsurance being lost and substituted with individually purchased reinsurance.
4. Principles of P&I Underwriting: Are they fair?
a) Are new buildings too cheaply rated?
b) Are Greek Shipowners subsidising foreign Shipowners?
5. Competition in and fragmentation of the ship management industry means that investment in crew recruitment and training is insufficiently rewarded. Given that Clubs represent important shipowner collectives and benefit from strong crew recruitment and training, would it be appropriate for them or the International Group to contribute to the funding of initiatives in this area?
6. International Group Managers are proposing to assume responsibility for insuring War P&I risks. Given that a terrorism act could readily cause a catastrophic claim, what measures have been taken to assess the risks presented by different ship types, particularly, for example, quick turnaround ferries, and how do Managers propose to price the risk.
7. Is there a danger of criminal investigations hampering the learning of lessons from shipping accidents such as the Cosco Busan pollution?
8. Comparing apples with apples - choice considerations about sharing risk and picking Clubs - a buyer's view.
A detailed program will follow shortly.
We are also pleased to advise that Mr. Lou Kollakis of Chartworld Shipping Corp. has once again, kindly accepted our invitation to preside over the panel of speakers as Chairman.
Please note there is an attendance fee of Euro 85 per person (including lunch), to be paid in advance.
In view of the great anticipated turnout and limited number of places, we strongly recommend that attendance be confirmed soonest to Ms K. Vienna of the Piraeus Marine Club, Tel.: 210 4293 606, as strict priority will be observed.
On behalf of the Chairman and the Board of Directors of the Piraeus Marine Club, Maria S. Prevezanou, Treasurer/ Organiser of the Seminar.
Source: Piraeus Marine Club