Greek Shipping News Cuts
Week 27 - 2008
---The tally of one or two-ship players in Greece has grown by close to 5% since last year.
The strong shipping market has reversed a trend of decline in the number of Greek shipowners, according to research released this week.
The number of Greek shipping companies has increased by 33 in 2008, according to shipping analyst Petrofin Research, and now stands at 758, a rise of 4.55%.
The segment of small companies that control one or two ships has seen the largest rise, estimated at 10.75%. This sector has been decreasing in recent years but today constitutes 44.85% of the total Greek shipowning sector.
Growth has also been recorded in the group of shipping companies that control between nine and 15 ships. There are now 70 such companies operating in Piraeus, up from 62 last year.
Two factors are affecting the growth of the smallest fleets, according to Ted Petropoulos, head of Petrofin Research.
More small owners who traditionally would work their ships until scrapping are holding on to them in a market that continues to keep them in demand.
The high rates are also attracting a number of first-time owners from other unrelated industries, while others represent a re-entry into the sector.
Petropoulos has identified a noticeable group he describes as "the young ones". They are the children of former owners with limited capital in the current high asset market who are forming partnerships to pool their resources, he says.
Growth in small owners follows a period where many were forced out of the sector either through natural attrition or pressures caused by economies of scale, limited financing facilities and increased regulations.
In the past five years, many of these owners sold their ships as asset values began to climb but they are expected to re-enter once prices begin to fall, Petrofin notes.
The growth of small shipowners could be reversed after 2010, when the analyst expects the shipping market to see a dip in demand caused by newbuilding deliveries.
The average age of the Greek fleet is 18.4 years, down from 18.71 years in 2007, reflecting the influx of newbuildings and replacement tonnage.
However, the number of overaged fleets controlled by Greeks has risen. There are now 509 fleets over the age of 20 across the entire Greek sector but mostly controlled by small companies. Last year, this number stood at 501, while in 2006 there were 467, according to Petrofin.
This growth points directly to a surge in demand that "Greek shipping companies are striving to fulfil by buying older vessels", the report states.
There are now 846 ships over the age of 30 operated by Greek companies, as opposed to 741 in 2007.
Lack of scrapping because of increased demand for tonnage is again reported as the main reason behind the growth.
Overall, Greeks also control more ships so far in 2008 as a result of steady growth over the past five years. In 2003, Greeks controlled 2,651 ships over 10,000 dwt and in 2008, this number stands at 3,019.
Yiota Gousas Athens
published: 03 July 2008
ThyssenKrupp may challenge EU over Greek shipyard aid
---By George Georgiopoulos
ATHENS, July 3 (Reuters) - ThyssenKrupp Marine Systems, the owner of Hellenic Shipyards (HSY), said on Thursday it may seek legal recourse if it incurs losses from a European Commission decision asking Greece to recover illegal state aid to HSY.
On Wednesday, the EU executive said Greece must recover more than 230 million euros ($363 million) in state aid it illegally gave to Hellenic Shipyards.
The money was transferred between 1996 and 2002 when Greece implemented 16 aid measures to the shipyard, which has built frigates, gunboats, fast patrol missile boats and submarines.
Hellenic, which competes with Neorion Shipyards, has been wholly owned by Germany's ThyssenKrupp Marine Systems since 2005.
"ThyssenKrupp Marine Systems, the holding company of the shipyard business, supported the investigations of the EU Commission and contributed to clarifying matters," ThyssenKrupp said in a statement.
It said the EU Commission's findings related to state aid granted by the Greek government to Hellenic Shipyards Skaramangas before and during the privatisation in 1997-2002.
"ThyssenKrupp has rights of recourse should the national implementation of the decision result in financial losses. Once the full decision is known, ThyssenKrupp will analyze it in detail and consider further legal steps."
Brussels authorised 160 million euros in aid in 1997 in return for restructuring the yard's civil commercial activities.
"Unfortunately, some crucial conditions attached to the approval have not been complied with," EU Competition Commissioner Neelie Kroes said.
"In addition, Greece has repeatedly provided unlawful and incompatible financing to the loss-making civil activities of the yard until 2002. The illegal aid must now be recovered," Kroes said.
On Wednesday Greece responded by saying the EU Commission had looked into alleged state aid to Hellenic Shipyards over the 1996-2002 period that exceeded 1.0 billion euros.
But after long and tough negotiations it convinced the EU Commission that 75 percent of the handouts had to do with military projects, meaning the aid did not fall under pertinent regulations.
"As a result, the decision of the European Commission regarding the recovery of 230 million euros refers only to commercial activities at Hellenic Shipyards," Greece's finance ministry said in a statement. (Editing by Sue Thomas)
Greece to toughen rules after shipping accident
---Tuesday, 01 July 2008
Greece has said it will bolster penalties for shipping collisions and re-assess officer training after a ferry accident over the weekend, the third since the start of the year.
"Penalties for those who violate collision prevention rules will be made harsher," Merchant Marine Minister George Voulgarakis said late Sunday.
He added that deck officers would henceforth undergo annual evaluation and refresh their training on sailing through tricky areas with shallows and reefs.
Voulgarakis also pledged to reassess the ministry's coastal shipping guidelines.
The statements came after a Greek ferry hit a charted reef near the Aegean islet of Oinousses on Saturday, tearing a 20-metre (65-foot) gash in its hull and prompting an operation to safely evacuate the 475 passengers on board.
It later emerged that the captain also delayed informing the authorities, who were first alerted when a passenger on board called the police.
Last month, a Cyprus-operated cruise ship with over 1,200 passengers and crew was re-routed when a two-metre-long gash was found in its hull after it had sailed from port.
And in April, two ferries collided inside the main Greek port of Piraeus, though no passengers were injured.
Ferries provide a vital link between the Greek mainland and dozens of islands in the Aegean and Ionian Seas and coastal shipping intensifies during the busy tourist season in summer.
Authorities in Greece are particularly sensitive to marine accidents after 80 people died in the sinking of the Greek ferry Express Samina after it hit two reefs eight years ago.
ELPE, Edison eye number 2 position in power market
By Stelios Bouras - Kathimerini English Edition
The holding company will also receive a 55-million-euro payment from Edison to balance the respective asset contributions and control a 75 percent stake in a thermal power generation subsidiary.
The deal is subject to approval by regulatory authorities.
Foreign energy companies have been teaming up with local partners in a bid to tap strong growth in the energy market which is opening up to competition.
Shares in ELPE, which has a market capitalization of 2.6 billion euros, jumped 5.45 percent to 8.52 euros yesterday, outperforming a broader market gain of 3.10 percent on the Athens bourse.
Source: Energy portfolio to reach 1,500-2,000 MW
Aegean Marine Petroleum Takes Delivery of Bunkering Tanker Newbuilding
----PIRAEUS, Greece, June 30, 2008 /PRNewswire-FirstCall via COMTEX/ ----Aegean Marine Petroleum Network Inc. (NYSE: ANW: 36.06, +0.01, +0.02%) today announced that it has taken delivery of the Mykonos, a 4,600 dwt double-hull bunkering tanker newbuild from Fujian Southeast Shipyard in China. The Mykonos will be deployed to Aegean's Gibraltar service center, increasing the total number of vessels operating in this market to five.
Including the Mykonos, Aegean has taken delivery of three newbuilds year-to-date and now boasts a total of 23 bunkering tankers in operation. The Company expects to take delivery of five additional double-hull newbuilds in 2008, another 13 in 2009, and six in 2010, which will more than double Aegean's bunkering tanker fleet to 47 over the next two years.
E. Nikolas Tavlarios, President, commented, "We are pleased to take delivery of our seventh newbuild from Fujian Southeast Shipyard. As we continue to expand our high-quality logistics infrastructure, Aegean remains committed to further strengthening its position as the leading independent physical supplier of marine fuel globally."
About Aegean Marine Petroleum Network Inc.
Aegean Marine Petroleum Network Inc. is an international marine fuel logistics company that markets and physically supplies refined marine fuel and lubricants to ships in port and at sea. As a physical supplier, the Company purchases marine fuel from refineries, major oil producers and other sources. The Company sells and delivers these fuels to a diverse group of ocean-going and coastal ship operators and marine fuel traders, brokers and other users through its service centers in Greece, Gibraltar, Singapore, Jamaica, the United Arab Emirates, Northern Europe, West Africa, the United Kingdom, and plans to commence physical supply operations in North America during the third quarter of 2008.
Aries Maritime Announces Completion of Review of Strategic Alternatives
---ATHENS, June 30 /PRNewswire-FirstCall/ -- Aries Maritime Transport Limited (NASDAQ:RAMS) today announced it has concluded its review of strategic alternatives that the Company initiated in March of 2008.
Mons S. Bolin, President and Chief Executive Officer, commented, "After careful consideration, the Board of Directors has concluded its review of various strategic alternatives and decided that is in the best interests of our shareholders to continue to execute the Company's operating plan. Management remains focused on renewing and repositioning our fleet and maintaining our period charter approach in support of the Company's long-term objectives."
Aries also announced that it has received an extension from its lenders of its deadline to reduce the outstanding borrowings under its fully revolving credit facility to $200 million from June 30, 2008 to August 31, 2008. As of June 30, 2008, Aries had reduced the outstanding borrowings under its fully revolving credit facility to $223.7 million.
Mr. Bolin added, "As previously announced, we completed the sale of the three oldest vessels in our fleet for a net price totalling $60.8 million. The proceeds were used to reduce outstanding borrowings under our fully revolving credit facility. We continue to seek opportunities to sell one or more vessels. In accomplishing this goal, we expect to further enhance the age profile of our fleet and strengthen our financial position in order to acquire additional vessels for the benefit of our shareholders."
About Aries Maritime Transport Limited
Aries Maritime Transport Limited is an international shipping company that owns and operates products tankers and container vessels. The Company's products tanker fleet consists of five MR tankers and four Panamax tankers, all of which are double-hulled. The Company also owns a fleet of three container vessels that range in capacity from 1,799 to 2,917 TEU. Currently, 11 of the Company's 12 vessels have period charter coverage. Charters for 30% of the Company's products tanker fleet currently have profit sharing components.
Conference highlights Greece's prospects as sea cruise hub
---Greece can play a leading role and become -on preconditions- a hub for sea cruise programs in Eastern Mediterranean, sea cruise executives told an international conference CruiseinGreece, organized by HATTA and Seatrade in Athens.
Speaking to reporters, during a news conference, Yiannis Evaggelou, president of HATTA, said the aim of CruiseinGreece was the examine the country's prospects in the sea cruise industry and acquiring a better view of how to make a more efficient use of the country's wealth as a preferential destination. All 12 speakers in the conference said Greece has all the necessary charisma that make it a popular destination but not profitable enough for large cruise companies.
Evaggelou stressed that almost all speakers criticized the problem with cabotaze. Tourism Development Minister Aris Spiliotopoulos said the government was in favour of promoting the necessary institutional changes towards lifting the cabotaze regime, a position that was most welcome by representatives of large cruise enterprises, such as Carnival and Royal Caribbean/Celebrity and Princess, along with small luxury cruise ship owners, who expressed their wish to establish Greece as a hub for cruise programs in Eastern Mediterranean.
First Class goes ahead with IPO
---Nigel Lowry, Athens - Monday 30 June 2008
First Class first registered with the Securities and Exchange Commission at the start of the year and initially aimed at selling 15m units.
At a target price of $10 per unit, consisting of one share and one warrant, the gross proceeds will now be about $130m or $148.5m if underwriters exercise an over-allotment option.
It has left the sector it is looking at as wide as possible, saying it could consider dry bulk, tankers, container vessels, ports and terminals or ancillary maritime services among other sectors.
First Class would primarily look in the shipping sphere for 15 months but afterwards may also do a deal outside shipping, the prospectus said.
The company, which intends listing on the American Stock Exchange, is led by Elmira chief executive Dimitrios Souravlas, 41, as chairman and chief executive.
Brother Georgios, 44, is technical director of Elmira and serves as chief operating officer of First Class.
Each has a 45% stake in First Feet Ltd, the founding shareholder, which will drop to about 9% in First Class after the offering.
With Elmira, the brothers have had extensive experience in bulkers, tankers and ro-ro vessels.
The list did not include the very recent offering by Navios Acquisition, a spin-off of Navios Holdings.
First Class, though, resembled Navios in giving itself a longer period than most blank cheque companies to consummate a deal.
Elmira, established in the late 1990s, has at various times managed 20 bulkers, four reefer container vessels, 10 oil-chemical tankers, and four ro-ro and two multipurpose vessels.
The First Class IPO is being led by Dahlman Rose along with Ladenberg Thalman.
Greek Shipping Companies and their fleet size
The significant reduction in the number of Greek owners between 1998 and 2005 was attributed to the decline in competitiveness of the small owner, usually running very small overage fleets. Economies of scale, increased regulations, attitude of banks and the collective view of all market participants contributed to this overall consolidation process. This was achieved, though, in the context of a stronger Greek sector, both in terms of number of vessels, age and especially DWT.
A summary of observations:
a. 1-2 vessel companies have gone up 10.75% this year, and their percentage share of Greek companies has gone up accordingly to 44.85%. This reflects the increasing interest in Greek shipping due to the strong market.
b. 3-4 vessel companies have gone down and they occupy 20.98% of the Greek total.
c. Similarly, 5-8 vessel companies are down percentage wise to almost their 1998 and 2000 levels.
d. 9-15 vessel companies are slightly up.
e. 16-24 vessel companies are slightly down.
f. The very large companies of fleets of 25+ vessels are slightly up
Size of the Greek-based, Greek-owned fleet
Due to primarily the high rate of deliveries of newbuildings, the practically non-existent scrapping, together with the continuing S&P activity, the actual number of vessels of the Greek fleet has gone up to a record high 4545, i.e. up by 199 vessels of all types and sizes or up by 4.58% in the last year. This figure represents vessels of any type, any tonnage and any flag under Greek ownership / management. Table