Greek Shipping News Cuts
Week 13 - 2008
---Bureau Veritas and Elefsis Shipyards have called on the government to do all in its power to promote shipbuilding in Greece. The French classification society believes there is great potential for the construction of certain types of ships in Greek yards and that with governmental backing, in line with European directives, contracts can be secured.
Indeed, the call came during a ceremony marking the signing of agreements by BV for the classification and construction of eight vessels in four different projects involving four different shipbuilders in the presence of deputy Marine and Island Policy minister Panos Kammenos. Lambros A. Chahalis, head of BV's marine department for Greece and Cyprus, said the society is working in close co-operation with the Marine ministry, Greek naval architects, owners and shipyard contractors in the belief "a new prespective is opening" for Greek yards "which are capable of building and repairing robust ships".
Kammenos said that every effort will be made to back the sector, "as this is already included in the government's priorities".
Kammenos' assurances came after BV had signed agreements for the classification and construction of five ro-ro passenger ships, two mega yachts and one gencargo ship, all slated to fly the Greek flag. The projects involve four different shipyards, three of them based in Perama.
As announced at the tail end of last year, Elefsis is to build two open-type 2,000gt ro-ropax ships worth around Euro 10m. Designed by Chris Simopoulos Associates, the 84mtr units, to deliver mid-2009, will have a capacity for 400 passengers, 100 cars or 16 trucks and are set to trade in Venezuela.
In a contract worth around Euro 15m, New Lines Shipping is to build a 15,000dwt bulk carrier in Atsalakis Sidhronaytika in Perama for delivery in the second half of 2009. It is the first newbuilding for the Stylianos Diakos/Georgios Sirekelas run company which has a fleet of small gencargo ships trading in the Aegean.
Three ro-ropax ships are to be built at the Frantzis Shipyard in Perama for Norwegian owners, while the fourth agreement was for two mega yachts to be built by Lamda Nafs Shipyards, of Perama.
Source: www.newsfront.gr, -- Filed: 2008-03-27
---More than 1,200 shipping companies, employing more than 12,000 highly specialized staff, were based in the port of Piraeus in 2007, compared to 900 in 2005.
For decades, income generated off British soil by non-British residents enjoyed tax-free treatment.
More than 100 Greek shipowning families based in London are now thinking of moving to Piraeus, primarily for two reasons: significant infrastructure improvement projects have been carried out in the past six years, while the government has taken certain measures to guarantee a stable and competitive institutional environment for shipping companies.
During a recent visit to London, Merchant Marine Minister Giorgos Voulgarakis gave assurances to Greek shipowners that the government intends to maintain the favorable tax regime applicable for the Greek shipping community, which controls 8.7 percent of the world fleet, with 4,173 vessels.
This translates into a capacity of 260,929,221 dwt (deadweight tons), which represents 16.4 percent of overall world shipping.
In Greece, shipping companies are not taxed either on income earned abroad or on property purchases and income from capital denominated in US dollars.
Top FX earner
The contribution of Greek companies to the British economy is estimated at some $10 billion annually.
A study by the British Chamber of Shipping showed that if Greek shipowners decided to leave the city, the economy will lose almost one billion pounds, not to mention some 120,000 professionals in medium- and high-ranking executive posts, who will have to move out with their families.
The British government is planning certain changes for non-citizens living in the country, who in the coming years would have to pay 30,000 pounds ($62,000) if they want to avoid paying tax on income from abroad.
In the past six years, 30 shipping firms have set sail for Piraeus and Athens.
London-based shipowners believe that a significant upgrade of Piraeus port could result in a large influx of companies from the British capital.
Blue Star Maritime Revenue increases by 19.1%
SHIPPINGAND EBITDA BY 8.5%
IN 2007 COMPARED TO 2006
SUGGESTED DIVIDEND PER SHARE EURO 0.09
The Board of Directors of Blue Star Maritime S.A. is pleased to announce that the Group in 2007 managed to increase revenue and to improve its already significant operational results despite the increase in the price of fuel oil. In specific, consolidated revenue stood at Euro 168.13 mln against Euro 141.16 mln in the previous year, an increase of 19.1%. Earnings before taxes, investing and financial results, depreciation and amortization (EBITDA) grew to Euro 44.31 mln against Euro 40.83 mln (8.5% increase) while Profit after taxes and minority interests stood at Euro 21.45 mln against Euro 21.76 in 2006 (1.4% decrease).
For fiscal year 2007, following the results of the Company and the Group, the outlook for the current year and the prevailing macroeconomic and market conditions, the Board of Directors will propose to the Annual General Meeting of Shareholders the distribution of dividend of Euro 0.09 per share. Total suggested dividend payable stands at Euro 9.45 mln.
Net profit after taxes and minority interests stood at Euro 21.45 mln, slightly lower from Euro 21.76 mln in 2006. The decrease in net profits is due to the increase of financial expenses because of the increase of interest rates and the negative foreign exchange differences that arised during the fiscal year 2007. Furthermore, depreciation expenses increased due to the addition of Diagoras in our fleet and at the same time fiscal year 2007 does not include any extraordinary profits from sale of vessels that for the fiscal year 2006 stood at Euro 1.3 mln approximately.
As regards the Balance Sheet and the Cash Flow Statement, Blue Star Group maintains its strong cash position with cash and cash equivalents growing to Euro 51.18 mln compared to 2006 year-end that stood at Euro 42.24 mln. Furthermore, cash flow from operating activities increased significantly and stood at Euro 32.05 mln against Euro 23.77 mln in 2006. At the same time, the Group reduced its long-term liabilities.
Total Equity after minority interests of the Group stood at Euro 228.55 mln against Euro 215.03 mln in 2006.
Developments in the Sector
On 1st October 2007, according to a decision of competent Greek Authorities, all passenger ships operating on regular services are obliged to comply with the European Directive regarding the use of Low Sulphur fuel. The higher cost of Low Sulphur fuel (approximately Euro 15-20 per m/t) combined to the fact that current fuel prices have reached very high levels, will have a negative impact in the financial results of all companies in the sector.
Important developments of fiscal year 2007
In January 2007, the vessel Blue Star 1 was redeployed from the Greece-Italy route to the Scotland-Belgium route in the North Sea. Blue Star 1 commenced successfully its service on the route on 29th January, 2007.
On October 23, 2007, MIG SHIPPING S.A., a wholly owned subsidiary of MARFIN INVESTMENT GROUP HOLDINGS S.A., submitted a mandatory Public Offer to the shareholders of Blue Star Maritime S.A. in respect of the purchase of the entirety of their common bearer shares with voting rights, at the price of Euro 3.83 per share, in cash.
Important developments after 31.12.2007
On 4th January, 2008, MIG Shipping S.A., announced the
On 26th February, 2008, the Board of Directors announced its decision to merge by absorption Blue Star Maritime S.A. by the Athens Exchange listed Attica Group.
Outlook for the Group
Diana Shipping: Prime Rebound Candidate
---Saturday, 29 March 2008
Despite a bit of back and fill action the last few days, it appears the market is putting in at least a short-term low. While the long-term direction of our markets could take on any number of different outcomes, the climactic low placed last week in wake of the Bear Stearns debacle should mark a support point and give the markets several weeks of relief. During this time, shorter-term traders should be able to take advantage of a lift and many depressed stocks will show very attractive rebounds. Returns after such a fearful low can often stack up very quickly and account for the lion's share of the full year's profits.
In looking for names that are likely to benefit from this improving environment, I have been drawn to many of the shipping names. These companies include Diana Shipping (DSX), Dryships Inc. (DRYS), TBS International (TBSI), Eagle Bulk Shipping (EGLE) and more. While the names all rise and fall according to some of the same economic metrics, you should do your homework to determine the fundamentals of each before putting your capital to work. In this article I will cover a few of the issues facing the entire group and then make some specific statements about DSX. However, the discussion can be applied to many other names within the group.
The dry bulk industry, as it is called, has a very close relationship with prices of commodities, supply and demand for those commodities, and the growth of emerging economies. As nations like China and India demand more and more in the way of grains, metals, and many other materials, shipping rates have been increasing and the supply of available vessels has been stretched. Naturally, when demand for transportation soars and supply of vessels is relatively inelastic, the price for the use of those vessels will rise sharply.
This is the phenomenon we have been dealing with for the last several years. Since it takes quite a bit of time for new ships to be manufactured, current owners of the vessels have enjoyed profits as day rates were pushed higher.
Within the past few months, however, the economic issues have caused concern about the sustainability of commodity prices. As inflation ramps up in some emerging economies, there have been questions as to the long term growth in demand for commodities. At the same time, some negotiations between the Chinese government and BHP Billiton as well as Rio Tinto over iron ore shipments from Australia to China have caused disruptions in the shipping schedules.
While the long-term fundamentals still look very good for the shipping industry, lower spot day rates have caused significant drops in the share prices of many of these shipping companies. These declines present investors with attractive opportunities to pick up stock at very reasonable multiples, especially compared to the high prices that these companies were fetching just six months ago.
When looking more specifically at the companies individually, there are some key differences that typically hinge on 3 different metrics.
The first issue is financing. When companies decide to purchase a new ship, they can finance that purchase with cash on hand by issuing debt or by issuing new equity. Since most companies do not have enough capital lying around for such a large purchase, they have turned to selling bonds or preferred stock to finance such transactions.
Diana Shipping has a unique approach in that management has decided to purchase most of its new vessels using equity, and so when it finds an attractive purchase, it issues a secondary stock offering to fund the purchase. This cuts down on risk as the capital is permanent, and while it may at times be dilutive to current shareholders, most are usually constructive on the opportunity to purchase a new cash generating asset.
One benefit of a healthy dividend policy is that it often helps to stabilize the stock somewhat as investors are unlikely to sell a holding that pays an attractive cash flow on a regular basis.
Finally, a firm must strategically decide whether to operate under the fluctuating daily spot rates or whether to engage in long-term charter rates. While the prices were steadily rising, it seemed to make the most sense to take advantage of the potential revenue increases by accepting the daily rates offered by the market. But in volatile times, it now seems wise to charter a large portion of available shipping days with long-term contracts to stabilize revenue and provide a more reliable earnings stream.
Diana has historically made extensive use of long-term charters, and while that may have caused management to forfeit some opportunity, the stable earnings and more recent new contracts at attractive rates have served the company well.
The last interesting dynamic to point out is that each ship has a definitive useful life before it must undergo extensive repair or be scrapped. New capacity is coming online in the form of new ships being built, but an aging industry fleet will likely have to retire ships, taking a bite out of the new capacity. As scrap rates increase sharply this year, there is more incentive for owners of aging vessels to go ahead and take their ships offline which could throw current assumptions about the shipping supply into transition.
As the industry adapts to the growing need for global shipping, and as the price and demand for commodities continue to rise, shippers are likely to enjoy growth as an industry. The recent market dynamics create an opportune time to look at many of these names as short-term trading vehicles, and a few qualify for long-term investments.
As always, please trade responsibly and with damage control in mind, but also have the discipline to step into the market when opportunities set up for high quality profits.
Source: Seeking Alpha
FreeSeas Operating Revenue Increased 139% in Fourth Quarter, 72% for Full Year 2007
---March 27, 2008 -- Piraeus, Greece -- FreeSeas Inc. (NASDAQ: FREE, FREEW and FREEZ) ("FreeSeas" or "the Company"), a provider of seaborne transportation for drybulk cargoes, announced today unaudited operating results for the fourth quarter and year-ended December 31, 2007.
* Operating revenues grew by 139.0% compared to the same quarter of 2006, to $7.44 million from $3.11 million, and by 71.8% for the full year 2007 over the comparable 2006 period, to $20.15 million from $11.73 million.
* Net loss, including charges related to debt extinguishment, of $2.28 million for the fourth quarter of 2007, or $0.14 per share, based on 16,022,084 basic shares outstanding, compared with a loss of $0.96 million, or $0.15 per share, based on 6,290,100 basic shares outstanding for the same quarter of 2006.
* Net income, excluding debt extinguishment charges of $2.57 million, or $0.16 per share, for the quarter ended December 31, 2007, reached $0.29 million, or $0.02 per share, based on 16,022,084 basic shares outstanding, compared to a loss of $0.96 million, or $0.15 per share, based on 6,290,100 basic shares outstanding, for the same period of 2006.
* Net income, excluding debt extinguishment charges of $2.57 million, or $0.29 per share, for the full year 2007, was $2.41 million, or $0.27 per share, based on 8,786,287 basic shares outstanding, compared with a loss of $3.32 million, or $0.53 per share, based on 6,290,100 basic shares outstanding, for the comparable period of 2006.
* Net income for the quarter ended December 31, 2007 was affected by the following factors:
o The Free Jupiter grounding casualty and unscheduled drydocking for repairs during the fourth quarter of 2007; and
o A $2.57 million loss on debt extinguishment, previously recorded as finance costs amortized over the life of the respective term loans, caused by the repayment and refinancing of $63 million of debt, in accordance with their respective debt terms.
* Adjusted EBITDA for the year ended December 31, 2007 increased by 223.4% as compared to same period in 2006, to $8.35 million from $2.58 million. For the fourth quarter of 2007, adjusted EBITDA increased 97% to $0.975 million from $0.495 million in the fourth quarter of 2006.
* In October 2007, the Company purchased for approximately $25.20 million the 1995-built, 22,051 dwt Handysize Free Goddess, which completed the balance of a time charter at $13,000 per day for approximately one month; upon completion of the charter, the vessel was delivered to its subsequent charterer for a two-year time charter at a rate of $19,250 per day.
* In December 2007, FreeSeas agreed to acquire two second-hand drybulk carriers from affiliated parties for a total combined purchase price of approximately $76.75 million. The Free Impala and Free Knight, both 24,111 dwt Handysize vessels, were built in 1997 and in 1998, respectively. The Free Knight was delivered to FreeSeas on March 19, 2007 and the Free Impala is expected to be delivered by the end of March. Both vessels have been fixed to one-year time charters at a rate of $31,500 per day.
* In February, the Company announced the return to service of the Free Jupiter. The vessel immediately began its previously announced three-year time charter through February 2011 at a rate of $32,000 per day for the first year, $28,000 per day for the second year and $24,000 per day for the third year.
* In March, FreeSeas announced the purchase of one second-hand drybulk carrier from an unaffiliated third party for approximately US$65.2 million. The vessel is a 2003-built, 50,246 dwt Handymax vessel built in Japan, and is scheduled for charter-free delivery to FreeSeas in June or July 2008.
* Finally, the Company also announced today a new charter for the Free Destiny, a 75-day time charter at $27,500 per day.
* In October 2007, the Company closed the sale of 12,650,000 shares of common stock in a public offering at $8.25 per share, which included the underwriter's over-allotment option of 1,650,000 shares, resulting in total net proceeds from the stock offering after deducting underwriting discounts and commissions, but before expenses, of approximately $97.1 million.
* During the year 2007, a total of 1,803,356 of Class B, Class W and Class Z warrants were exercised for shares of common stock, generating net cash proceeds to the Company of $8.67 million. Remaining exercisable warrants and options issued and outstanding as of December 31, 2007 amount to 3,429,144.
* In February 2008, FreeSeas declared its inaugural quarterly dividend of $0.175 per share on the common stock outstanding. The dividend was paid on February 28, 2008 to stockholders of record as of February 18, 2008.
* The Company also announced that it had finalized the financing for the Free Impala and Free Knight, securing facilities in the total amount of approximately $53 million for a term of approximately seven years.
Mr. Ion Varouxakis, President and Chief Executive Officer, commented, "We are very pleased to report the best quarter in the Company's history so far. Since our listing on NASDAQ in December of 2005, with a fleet of three vessels of an average age of 23.1 years and an equity market capitalization of $33.6 million, we have grown our proforma fleet to eight vessels, with an average age of 13.6 years, our equity market capitalization to $112 million, and increased the value of our asset base approximately ten times. With less than half of our fleet delivered and operational, we have reported the best quarter in the Company's history so far; we expect even better quarters ahead of us."
Varouxakis continued, "The retirement of the bridge loans secured in 2007 to acquire the Free Hero, the Free Goddess and Free Jupiter was a watershed event for our ever improving balance sheet. Our ability to extinguish these bridge loans and recapitalize our debt at much healthier rates will provide us increased balance sheet flexibility moving forward and ultimately save the Company very substantial amounts in interest expense."
Varouxakis concluded, "Most of the progress for our Company has been achieved in the last twelve months. For the full year, we reversed last year's operating losses and this year realized operating profits, reduced substantially our cost of capital by refinancing existing debt, writing off most of the refinancing cost in the last quarter of the year, and provided the funding for further growth through a successful capital offering in October 2007. We have also initiated payment of quarterly dividends, to which we remain deeply committed. With more leverage and financial flexibility available today than ever before, we are poised to achieve further growth."
The Company also announced today that it has filed with the US Securities and Exchange Commission a universal shelf registration statement on Form F-3 for the purpose of undertaking possible capital raises in the future. Included in this universal shelf registration statement are various securities of the Company, including common stock, preferred stock, debt securities, warrants, rights, purchase contracts and units, which the Company may determine to offer in the future, from time to time, based on market conditions and the Company's capital needs. The Company received a limited waiver from the underwriters of its October 2007 public offering from the lock-up covenant of the underwriting agreement for purposes of filing the Form F-3 and confirms that no offers or sales of "lock-up securities" (as defined in the underwriting agreement) will be made before the April 21, 2008 expiration of the lock-up period.
--- Press Release in full is available at: www.freeseas.gr
Hellenic Carriers secures loan facility - US$150 million for further fleet expansion
About Hellenic Carriers Limited
Hellenic Carriers Limited 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 vessel with expected delivery between 1 March and 30 April 2008 and a Panamax vessel with expected delivery between 1 March and May 31 2008. Including the new Supramax and Panamax vessels to be delivered, Hellenic's fleet has an aggregate carrying capacity of 372,761 dwt and an average age of 12.9 years as of 29 February 2008.
For further information please contact:
Hellenic Carriers Limited
Fotini Karamanlis, Chief Executive Officer
E-mail: email@example.com +30 210 455 8900
Source: press release, 25 March 2008
Hellenes embrace Facebook
---Modern technology is adding a new social dynamic to Greek shipping.
The face of Greek shipping is changing.
Not long ago, Greek shipowners were renowned for their secrecy and keeping a low profile. But the move toward corporate financing in the past decade has seen them reveal much more details of their operations to meet regulatory demands.
Now, the phenomenon of social networking over the Internet is providing further insights into the Greek shipping scene.
Online meeting place Facebook is being embraced by many of the younger members of the Greek shipping scene and bringing a whole new meaning to the phrase "putting a face to the name".
A growing number of shipowners are breaking the conservative mould cast by their forefathers by posting their faces on the web, listing their personal interests and participating in online competitions and character ratings.
Anyone navigating through the Facebook network will find some of Greece's best-known shipping names, including Dalacouras, Pateras, Lemos, Karella, Lanara, Varouxakis and Bacolitsas, to name a few.
Shipowners like Pavlos G Vardinoyiannis, Victor Restis, Genny Chrisogono-Coumandaros, Diamantis Xylas, Stephanos and Anastasia Kollakis and Dimitris Angelakos have their own listings.
And it is not just the shipowners who are embracing Facebook, which has an estimated 60 million users.
Piraeus brokers Dimitris Ioannou and Dimitris and Sophia Kokkinis and a string of well-connected Piraeus lawyers such as Daphne Soroula are also to be found.
Ion Varouxakis, chief executive of US-listed bulk operator Freeseas, has had his profile online for some months. "The reason I joined Facebook is because everybody else seemed to be on it and I didn't want to miss out on any fun," Varouxakis joked.
He says his initial enthusiasm for the virtual space has faded but he still finds it "an intriguing tool" that he has yet fully to explore. A fellow student from his university days found him through Facebook after 18 years without contact, he adds.
There are limits, however, to peaking into a Greek shipowner's online profile.
The most apparent is the use of restriction options available to all Facebook networkers that limit access to profiles to a select group of friends.
Natalia and Haris Moundreas of Nicholas G Moundreas Shipping, for example, can be easily found on the network but they both safeguard their privacy against curious surfers.
The next issue is the "friends" list. The elite of the shipping industry seem to limit those accepted onto their lists to a controlled inner circle. This becomes apparent with the few profiles that are open to public viewing. Many read like an address book made in heaven for anyone doing business in the shipping world.
The phrase "It's all about who you know" comes to mind when looking through the profile of George Galanakis of crewing company Elvictor. The young professional shares a vivid party life documented with photos in his profile with his 240 or so friends. A number of these young faces are destined to be future shipping bosses.
Galanakis admits that such lists are a status symbol if they include the "who's who" of the shipping social scene.
The Facebook trend in shipping is by no means confined to Piraeus. A growing number of international professionals have joined and so have a rising tally of shipping fraternities ( see story, above right ).
Hong Kong ports tycoon Li Ka-Shing was reported in December to be keen to invest $60m in the network through his personal foundation. The amount would fetch him a 0.04% holding in one of the Internet's hottest properties, which is worth $15bn, according to Wall Street reports.
Observers say Facebook is set to see growth in niche markets as users are said to visit their profiles 2.1 times per day on average.
Shipping, it seems, is already firmly establishing its presence.
By Yiota Gousas, Athens, published: 28 March 2008
Video Interview: Harry Vafias, President & Chief Executive Officer, StealthGas Inc.
---NASDAQ CEO Signature Series Broadcasted From the NASDAQ MarketSite
NEW YORK, March 27, 2008 (PRIME NEWSWIRE) -- Veteran business journalist Sasha Salama joins Harry Vafias, President & Chief Executive Officer, StealthGas Inc. (Nasdaq:GASS), to discuss the company's industry, strategy, financials and positioning.
Click here to view video: http://investor.shareholder.com/ceosignature/webcast.cfm?mediaid=30203&k=80D9595F8FEB1F89F6B7B97459E76CA0
Mr. Vafias has been actively involved in the tanker and gas shipping industry since 1999. After graduating from City University Business School in the City of London in 1999 with a B.A. in Management Science and from Metropolitan University in 2000 with a Masters degree in Shipping, Trade and Transport, he commenced working at Seascope, a leading ship brokering firm specializing in sale and purchase of vessels and chartering of oil tankers.
Mr. Vafias also worked at Braemar, a leading ship brokering firm, where he gained extensive experience in tanker and dry cargo chartering. Seascope and Braemar merged in 2001 to form Braemar Seascope Group plc, a public company quoted on the London Stock Exchange and one of the world's largest ship brokering and shipping service groups. From 2000 until 2004, he worked at Brave Maritime and Stealth Maritime, companies providing comprehensive ship management services, where Mr. Vafias headed the operations and chartering departments of Stealth Maritime and served as manager for the sale and purchase departments of both Brave Maritime and Stealth Maritime.
About StealthGas Inc.
Headquartered in Athens, Greece, StealthGas Inc. is a ship-owning company serving primarily the liquefied petroleum gas (LPG) sector of the international shipping industry. StealthGas Inc. currently has a fleet of 36 LPG carriers with a total capacity of 156,399 cubic meters (cbm) and two MR Product Tankers. In addition, the company has also entered into agreements to acquire two second-hand LPG carriers with expected delivery in March and September 2008; four new resale LPG carriers with expected delivery from July 2008 and June 2009; and five newbuilding LPG carriers with expected delivery from September 2010 through December 2011. It has also agreed to sell one LPG carrier in its current fleet, with delivery to the new owner by March 2008. Once these acquisitions and sale of vessels are completed, StealthGas Inc.'s fleet will be composed of 46 LPG carriers with a total capacity of 210,499 cubic meters (cbm) and 2 MR Product Tankers with a total capacity of 94,000 deadweight tones (dwt). StealthGas Inc.'s shares are listed on the NASDAQ Global Select Market and trade under the symbol "GASS."
For more information on the opportunity to have your CEO discuss your company, please call NASDAQ CEO Signature Series, 978/461-3141.
The NASDAQ CEO Signature Series logo can be found at http://www.primenewswire.com/newsroom/prs/?pkgid=4839
Aerospace, Defense & Security Trade Mission to Athens, Greece October 7-10, 2008.
---Mission Description: The United States Department of Commerce, International Trade Administration, U.S. Commercial Service is organizing an Aerospace, Defense and Security Trade Mission, October 7-10, 2008, to Athens, Greece, with an optional stop in Tel Aviv, Israel, October 5-6, 2008. The mission will coincide with Defendory 2008 in Athens, where U.S. participants will meet with both Greek and Turkish business contacts. Defendory is one of the world's leading exhibitions for sea, land and air defense products and technologies. The trade mission will target a broad range of aerospace, defense, and safety and security products and services, and will consist of customized one-on-one appointments at the Defendory exhibit site between U.S. participants and Greek customers/business partners, as well as Turkish customers/business partners. Delegation members may take advantage of the optional stop in Israel before the mission starts in Greece.
The goal of the mission will be to match participating U.S. companies with pre-screened agents, distributors, representatives, licensees, buyers, and joint venture partners, and where appropriate, arrange for appointments with government officials, traditionally large purchasers of products and services in the highlighted sectors. Consumers in Greece, Turkey and Israel have a strong affinity for U.S. products and services in these sectors.
Greece: Greece's allocation of gross domestic product (GDP) for defense is the highest in the European Union (EU).
[Page Number 15723]
A partner in the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO), Greece is continuing to modernize the Hellenic Armed Forces and shift its force structure toward smaller, more flexible formations. To achieve this, the government has announced plans to spend more than $3 billion by 2011, in addition to the $8 billion it has spent in recent years on defense equipment. Greece provides U.S. defense firms with excellent opportunities as it pursues a number of high-priority programs, including new frigates, helicopters, missiles, fighters and "new generation" trainer aircraft.
The necessity for more and better security has resulted in increased market potential associated with the upgrading of Greek airport and port security, to be funded from the Greek national budget, EU funds, the Interregional Plan, and public-private partnerships. Opportunities for U.S. firms exist in a number of airport and port safety and security projects. The Greek civil aviation structure consists of 82 commercial airports, of which 38 are under the jurisdiction of the Hellenic Civil Aviation Authority (HCAA). According to the HCAA, total airport traffic in Greece through 2006 reached 40 million travelers, and is expected to increase to more than 50 million by 2010. Greece has 123 cargo/passenger ports that handle passenger ships, cruise ships and cargo. The main ports, Piraeus and Thessaloniki, serve as a gateway to the Balkans.
Significant developments that will influence demand for port safety and security include equipment upgrades associated with the Container Security Initiative (CSI) and/or International Ship and Port Facility Security Code (ISPS), as well as the HCAA's plans for security upgrades. The ISPS Code defines mandatory measures to strengthen maritime security and prevent acts of terrorism against shipping and port facilities.
One offshoot of these requirements is the Greek Ministry of Merchant Marine's plans to announce, by the end of 2008, an international tender worth more than $496 million for the design, implementation and operation of a fully integrated security system for 12 Greek national ports. The system will include surface, underwater and perimeter security according to the ISPS Code. A second tender will follow to cover the remaining Greek ports. U.S. companies enjoy an excellent reputation for high-quality equipment, advanced technology, superior technical proficiency, and expertise in the design and execution of large-scale security projects. Innovative security products are in high demand.
Source: http://www.tradingmarkets.com/.site/news/Stock%20News/1245838, Mar 25, 2008 (FIND, Inc. via COMTEX) -- -- Mission Statement