Greek Shipping News Cuts
Week 04 - 2008
---By Nikos Bardounias - Kathimerini
Already the container station has over 5,000 units stored there, its total capacity being 15,000. OLP sources said yesterday that if in the next 10 to 15 days there is no change in the situation, the OLP storage space will be full and the port authority will be forced to close the port. It will also inform all international forwarding companies so that they can choose other commercial ports at which to unload cargo originally destined for Piraeus.
In its meeting yesterday, the Federation of Permanent Port Employees in Greece (OMYLE) decided to escalate its industrial action, announcing a 24-hour strike on January 30, and to continue to refuse to work overtime and weekends in February as well.
The draft law provides for the voluntary exit of personnel hired before May 1999 (approximately 150-200 people), a transfer to other state posts in a similar capacity, depending on their years of service as well, and a package of shares allocated to employees at one-third of the stock price when the deal is realized.
Man who 'broke the market' resigns
Greek newcomer secures 15 units
---A Piraeus-based player is wasting little time in growing its presence.
New Greek shipping outfit Grand Union is rapidly expanding its fleet with bulker and tanker newbuildings.
Market sources say the Piraeus-based company has booked eight capesizes in South Korea and six chemical tankers in China.
Newbuilding players familiar with the company say Grand Union signed up for the eight capesizes at SungDong Shipbuilding last year.
The contract is for two capesizes of 180,000 dwt and six of 170,000 dwt. The price is unknown. Clarkson's database lists Grand Union as scheduled to take delivery of one ship in 2009 and the rest in 2010.
Sources believe orders for the six 16,500-dwt newbuildings were contracted some time ago as Grand Union is scheduled to take delivery between 2008 and 2011. The identity of the Chinese shipbuilder has not been disclosed.
Grand Union was incorporated in May 2006 by Greek owners Stamford Navigation and Newfront Shipping. The company is said to have 15 bulkers and one products tanker, the 12,000-dwt Watford (built 2005), in the water. The bulkers include five capesizes, eight panamaxes and two handysizes.
In addition to the latest orders, Grand Union also has five 35,000-dwt handysize bulk carriers on order at SPP Shipbuilding and eight 81,000-dwt kamsarmaxes and three 180,000-dwt capesize bulkers under construction at C&Heavy Industries (C&HI).
SPP is slated to deliver the handysizes in 2010 and 2011, while C&HI will deliver its newbuildings from the first quarter of 2010 to 2011.
Grand Union is also said to be holding two capesize options at C&HI.
Irene Ang Singapore, published: 25 January 2008
Vardinoyiannis and Grimaldi plot Ro-Ropax shake-up
---John Vardinoyiannis is on the verge of gaining control of Crete's Anek Lines and the Italian group Grimaldi is poised to get both feet firmly placed in the Greek seatransportation sector under a deal expected to be hatched in the next few days.
With just the dotting of the 'i's' and the crossing of 't's' to be concluded, the deal will see Grimaldi sell its 15.26% holding in Anek Lines to the Vardinoyiannis-controlled, Cyprus-listed Sea Star Capital (SSC) which will in turn sell its 26.71% stake in Crete's other major company Minoan Lines to the Italian group.
SSC has already made it known that some 58m has been set aside to purchase stock in Anek "as soon as possible". SSC, which has only been an active player in the shipping sector since last October, is already a 15.9% stakeholder in Anek, which has ambitions to strengthen its operations in the Aegean and Adriatic. Likewise, the Grimaldi Group has often stated a desire to enhance its position in the Adriatic.
Vardinoyiannis has reportedly refused to play ball with Grimaldi in jointly cooperating on routes in the Adriatic, a stand which led to Grimaldi boss, Emanuele Grimaldi, threatening to sell the company's Anek stake to a third party.
In a move to stave-off the aspirations of the Italian group, December 11 the Laskaridis family sold its entire interest in Greece's passenger shipping sector for 249.6m to SSC and Vardinoyiannis. The deal was thought to have opened the way for the consolidation of Crete's two major ferry companies, Anek and Minoan plus the country's largest ferry group Hellenic Seaways under one roof as Laskaridis held a 34.7% stake in Piraeus-based Hellenic Seaways.
Grimaldi has said he is not interested in the Greek domestic services, where Hellenic Seaways is especially strong. Just where the current wheeling and dealing leaves the ambitious Hellenic remains to be seen, but Newsfront understands Marine and Island Policy minister, Giorgos Voulgarakis, is concerned and in the past has sought reassurances from Vardinoyiannis.
Source: Issue 3 (25 January 2008) of Newsfront Greek Shipping Intelligence newsletter.
Ionia Shipmanagement' ships may be barred from U.S. ports
---Thursday, 24.01.2008, 12:22am (GMT)
A New Haven judge has given the U.S. Coast Guard the power to turn back vessels belonging to a Hellenic shipping company convicted of polluting the oceans with oily waste. Federal District Court Judge Janet Bond Arterton ruled January 10 that the company, Ionia Management, had violated probation in its sentencing on pollution charges last year. In the new charges, federal prosecutors accused Ionia of sending a 60,000-ton tanker to a Georgia port late last year without proper pollution-monitoring equipment. The judge responded to the violation by warning the company that all of its ships must install up-to-date systems to prevent the discharge of oily waste into the ocean or be turned back at sea. She also appointed a special master to make sure the company complied with her order. In the latest incident, the tanker Dromeas sailed into the port of Savannah, Ga. on December 20 and was stopped by the Coast Guard. The ship's officers said they were not aware they needed special monitoring equipment, but the judge had required that all of Ionia's ships carry a monitor that tracks "every single drop of oil or waste that moves in the engine room" and that company officials review all the pollution data on a daily or hourly basis.
Arterton fined Ionia $4.9 million after it was convicted last September on 13 counts of violating federal pollution laws and additional counts of falsifying records, obstruction of justice and conspiracy. Although Ionia's operations span the globe, the case was tried in New Haven because a crewmember on an Ionia ship called the Kriton that was traveling near the city's port tipped off the Coast Guard to pollution violations. The Kriton's officers had set up a "magic hose" to bypass pollution controls and dump oily sludge directly into the Atlantic, the judge found. Fake entries were also made into a log tracking waste treatment.
In the wake of the probation violation, Ionia may face more fines and additional penalties when Arterton revisits the case as scheduled this summer, U.S. Attorney's Office spokesman Tom Carson says.
Star Bulk Approves Finance Moves
---Thursday, January 24, 2008
Star Bulk Carriers Corp. (NASDAQ:SBLK) announced that its board of directors has approved a plan for the repurchase of up to an aggregate of $50 million of its Common Stock and Warrants which may be repurchased by the Company from time to time until December 31, 2008.
The plan calls for the repurchases of both Common Stock and Warrants to be made in open market or privately negotiated transactions in compliance with Rule 10b-18 under the Securities Exchange Act of 1934, as amended, subject to market and business conditions, applicable legal requirements and other factors. The plan will be implemented by the Company's management at its discretion. The plan calls for the repurchased shares and warrants to be retired as soon as practicable following the repurchase. The plan does not obligate the Company to purchase any particular number of shares, and may be suspended at any time at the Company's discretion in accordance with Rule 10b-18.
Akis Tsirigakis, President and CEO of Star Maritime commented: "Our plan to repurchase and retire a portion of our Common Stock and Warrants reaffirms our confidence and optimism in the long term future of the Company and is a testimony of our commitment to seek ways to increase shareholder value. We believe it is in the best interest of the Company and its stockholders to utilise the Company's healthy cash position and strong contracted revenue stream to repurchase a portion of the Company's Common Stock and Warrants at these levels."
Quintana Ends Effort to Sell Itself
----Jan. 22, 2008, 9:43AM
In October, the company said it hired Citi and Dahlman Rose to serve as advisers as it considered strategic alternatives to increase shareholder value.
"None of these proposals resulted in a final proposal that was financially and contractually attractive," the company said Tuesday, adding that "the board has concluded that it is in the best interests of the company at this time to continue on its present course as an independent publicly traded entity."
Quintana cited "recent considerable deterioration in the drybulk charter market" and the resulting declines in drybulk companies' share prices.
The Baltic Dry Index, which measures drybulk shipping rates on 40 shipping routes on a time-charter and voyage basis, has fallen 28 percent since the start of the year.
Quintana shares tumbled $1.76, or 11.3 percent, to $13.89 as the broader market tumbled.
Source: http://www.chron.com/disp/story.mpl/ap/fn/5474304.html [The Associated Press]
Greek-American Chamber of Commerce planned
---by The Times-Picayune, Friday January 25, 2008, 6:23 PM
The announcement this week of plans to establish a Greek-American Chamber of Commerce in New Orleans can be traced back to a 2007 "diplomatic mission" the city sent to Washington to seek more consular offices and foreign trade opportunities, City Council President Arnie Fielkow said.
The Greek ambassador to the United States, Alexandros Mallias, announced his commitment to work toward establishing the new group during a visit to the council on Thursday.
Mallias and Fielkow said the chamber will seek to encourage business between New Orleans and Greece, particularly with the Greek shipping industry.
The planned organization "offers numerous benefits for our ports and maritime industry and can be a great vehicle to promote Louisiana's trade and investment opportunities with Greek ship owners, the world's largest in terms of tonnage," said Eugene Schreiber, managing director of the World Trade Center of New Orleans.
"New Orleans is experiencing an upswing in business, and our expanding international presence is a key driver of this economic growth," Fielkow said. "The progress we are making in our recovery is being noticed around the world, and I thank Ambassador Mallias for his recognition of New Orleans' international strength and business opportunities."
During a two-day visit to Washington in March 2007, Fielkow, Schreiber, Councilwoman Cynthia Willard-Lewis and Lisa Ponce de Leon, director of international relations for the city, met with officials at 16 foreign embassies, including that of Greece.
The local delegation, in conjunction with U.S. Sen. Mary Landrieu, also hosted a reception for representatives of 73 nations at the Reagan Building/International Trade Center.
The purpose of the trip was to thank the international community for its commitment to New Orleans, to invite foreign nations to establish more consular and international offices here, and to strengthen the city's international presence, Fielkow said.
Since then, Australia has opened a trade office in New Orleans, Haiti has appointed an honorary consul in the city, Mexico has reopened its consulate, the Ukrainian ambassador visited the city and expressed interest in appointing an honorary consul, and South Africa has sent two official delegations to New Orleans.
"We made the case for the diversification of our economy, and the delegation was able to make international connections that are continuing to bear fruit," Fielkow said.
"As we rebuild we will continue to need aid and support from our brothers and sisters from around the world," Willard-Lewis said. "I would like to thank the Greek ambassador for his commitment to establishing this new economic development partnership."
Karamanlis visit expected to boost trade
---By Emre Sigura - Turkish Daily News
Economic ties transcend political differences and the visit by Greek Prime Minister Costas Karamanlis will elevate the trade between the two countries to new levels, said DEIK Chairman Selim Egeli in an interview with the Turkish Daily News
The Greek Energy Sector: Developments and Opportunities
---By Ioannis Michaletos
Still, the oil factor is a very important one, since it represents in Greece some 60 percent of yearly energy consumption and it is imported, bar some minimum amounts being produced in the Kavala offshore oil field in Northern Greece. Natural gas is a fast expanding commodity, albeit for the time being its contribution is a mere seven percent.
Another, smaller pipeline which is operational is the one transferring oil from Thessaloniki to the OKTA oil refinery in Skopje. The industry has been Greek-owned since a controversial privatization in 1999, and means the needs of the energy market in the country are largely met by Greece, which continues to view the proposed AMBO (Albania-Macedonia-Bulgaria Oil) pipeline as competitive with Burgas-Alexandroupoli and harmful to its geo-strategic interests.
Finally, and most recently, a Swiss corporation named EGL has drafted a plan for providing Iranian oil to Albania and Italy through Greece, with the Trans-Adriatic pipeline as it is termed. For the time being discussions are being held between all interested sides.
Natural gas is another vital resource by which Greece is seeking to enhance its energy-supplier reputation. Currently, Greece import 80 percent of its natural gas from Russia and the rest from Algeria, through a series of bilateral agreements. Currently the Russian gas is being imported by Bulgaria, and the Algerian via LNG vessels. A recent development in that field was the beginning of operations of the Greek-Turkish gas pipeline that was inaugurated in late November 2007. It transports Turkish-owned gas with an initial capacity of 124 billion cubic feet, and has a total capability of some 406 billion cubic feet. A quarter of this amount will be available for the Greek market, whilst the rest will be exported to Italy via another underwater pipeline. The gas flowing through the pipeline will be bought by the Turkish BOTAS company and it is assumed that it will be a mixture of Azeri, Iranian and Russian gas. With this project, Greece will extend its geo-economic influence, albeit indirectly, across a wider geographical spectrum.
The South Stream agreement, signed in late June 2007, signals the culmination of a major political and economic process. The Russian Gazprom and the Italian ENI agreed to invest $15 billion in order to construct a pipeline stretching from the Russian Black Sea coast to Bulgaria, Greece and ending in Otranto, Italy. The pipeline should be constructed by 2011; however, as it will bypass certain countries leaning towards America, such as Ukraine, it may exacerbate the rift between American and Russian geopolitical interests. From a financial point of view, this investment seems very ambitious, in order to provide satisfactory returns to the investors. As far as Greece is concerned, a pipeline transferring gas that will meet Italian and European needs is another beneficial development since it will secure for decades to come a steady flow of gas to Greece, and it will add to the expanding energy prominence of the country.
Source: 1/25/2008 (Balkanalysis.com)
Historical Seas Tall Ships Regatta 2010 - Host ports in Greece, Bulgaria and Turkey finalised
---Final detailed agreements have now been signed with host ports in Greece, Bulgaria and Turkey to complete planning arrangements the Historical Seas Tall Ships Regatta 2010, it was announced today by Sail Training International.
The Regatta will comprise the traditional mix of races and cruises-in-company for a Tall Ships event organised by Sail Training International*. It will begin in May and conclude in early June 2010, in time for those taking part to make passage to northern Europe for the annual summer series Tall Ships' Races (organised by Sail Training International).
Leg one of the Historical Seas Tall Ships Regatta will follow the route, according to legend, of Jason and the Argonaughts in search of the Golden Fleece from Volos, Greece (12-15 May) through the Dardanelles into the Black Sea. The next port of call will be Varna, Bulgaria (21-24 May), departing on the country's National Day (24 May). From there the fleet will race to Istanbul, Turkey (27-30 May), where the Regatta will be a centrepiece of the city's celebrations of its designation as European Capital of Culture in 2010. From there the fleet will cruise and race to Lavrion, Greece (4-7 June) close to Athens and a wealth of other historical and cultural sites.
"This will be the first ever Tall Ships event in this region of Europe, and we now have an enthusiastic set of host ports determined it will be a great success" says Capt Robin Snouck-Hurgronje, Chairman of the Regatta's management committee. "Sail Training International plans to organise other events in the Mediterranean, Adriatic, Aegean and Black Seas in future years, perhaps annually, as part of its development programme."