Greek Shipping News Cuts
Week 32 - 2008
---A former Cabinet minister whose close aide has been charged with blackmail yesterday repeated that he had no involvement in the case.
On Thursday, prosecutor Isi-doros Doyiakos, following a preliminary investigation, charged Panayiotis Zachariou in connection with claims by shipowner Fotis Manousis that he paid 1 million euros annually in order to secure state subsidies to run ferry services to remote islands. Pavlidis had earlier accused Manousis of pressuring him to provide one of his ships with a permit to ply one of the lines to remote islands, saying he was the victim of blackmail.
ITF targets Greek
---A Greek bulker operator which landed in hot water with Australian trade unionists may be about to get burned on the other side of the world.
Further, another of Ocean Freighters vessels, which is reportedly heading to Ireland from the US and France, could find itself the target of a concerted campaign from the trade unionists to get the Greek outfit to sign its fleet up to ITF agreements.
Successive attempts by ITF representatives to board the 28,450-dwt Pontoklydon (built 1992) at Geraldton in Western Australia this week have been thwarted by the master of the Cyprus-flagged ship. The ITF was acting after concerns were raised about the wages and conditions of the 16-member Filipino crew (click here to read article in full http://www.tradewinds.no/daily/article516508.ece ) .
The ITF said it was tracking ships belonging to Ocean Freighters operating across the globe including in the US, France and Ireland.
The ship is apparently under charter to Swiss giant Bunge and the ITF has informed the charterer of non-compliance with ITF agreements onboard.
When TradeWinds contacted Piraeus-based Ocean Freighters regarding the Pontoklydon in Australia a Mr Moustakas said the company has made any statement it is going to make to the Australian press. He declined to pass on this statement to TradeWinds or give further comment. TradeWinds was unable to find reference to any statement released to Australian media from Ocean Freighters.
By Eoin O'Cinneide in London
Published: 13:11 GMT, 05 August 2008 | last updated: 13:16 GMT, 05 August 2008
AWB charters Geraldton 'rip-off' ship
Chris Thomson, August 4, 2008
The Australian Wheat Board today admitted it bungled in chartering a ship from Geraldton that may be breaching international labour standards.
The administrative error has blown into a full-scale industrial standoff between the Greek owners of the vessel and the International Transport Workers Federation.
"My understanding was that the captain refused to sign an International Minimum Standards Agreement," AWB spokesman Peter McBride said this morning.
"There was a minor administrative error when we booked the ship and we are continuing to co-operate with the union and the vessel owner to get the matter resolved as soon as possible."
The Federation's national co-ordinator Dean Summers said he suspected the ship, called Pontoclydon and chartered by the AWB, was abusing labour standards.
Yesterday, the vessel's captain refused to let the Federation speak with his 16-strong Filipino crew, or inspect their wage records.
Mr Summers said the captain allowed a Federation delegate onto the ship about 7 o'clock this morning as the first grain was due to be loaded.
"An ITF inspector got on board this morning and spoke to the captain," Mr Summers said.
"The captain wasn't backing down at all."
Mr Summers said the captain refused his union's request to inspect Pontoclydon's wage logs to ensure the crew was being paid properly and not being over-worked.
"I have spoken to the wheat board which usually has a lot higher standards and makes sure ships have International Transport Federation agreements," Mr Summers said.
"This one doesn't - somehow it slipped through their net."
Mr Summers said the company running the ship, Ocean Freighter Limited, was based in Greece, but its vessels flew Cypriot flags because it was cheaper to register ships in Cyprus.
He said industrial breaches were common on such 'flag of convenience' ships.
"The company had an ITF agreement until three years ago, but they've had a change of management and gone a bit feral," Mr Summers said.
"They are effectively ripping off the farmers in Geraldton and a lot of other exporters who are using this type of transport and paying for the liner to pay their crew right."
Mr McBride said the AWB was confident a settlement would be reached in time for the ship to be loaded and weigh anchor by the end of this week.
Attempts to reach the ship's captain by telephone were unsuccessful.
Hellenic Register not booted out just yet
---Fairplay International Shipping Weekly - Newswatch 07 Aug 2008
The classification society is under investigation by Greek authorities after the EC highlighted certain areas of concern, but the Commission declined to give Fairplay any further details on what triggered the suspension as long as the case is still open.
The EC decided on 24 July to suspend the limited recognition it had granted the Greek class society 10 years ago.
HRS has been prevented from issuing new certificates for ships registered in Greece, Cyprus and Malta, which are the only EU states that have authorised the society to carry out surveys.
Meanwhile, the managing director of Hellenic Register, Costas Chiou, has resigned and was immediately replaced by former Hellenic Navy chief Dimitrios Gousis.
But the IACS charter requires a classed fleet of at least 1,500 ocean-going vessels over 100gt with an aggregate total of at least 8M gross tonnage before a class society may be considered as a member, which has kept HRS with its 293 ships over 100gt in a catch-22.
In spite of this, and as recently as May, Chiou still expected a 10% growth for the coming year.
Industry surprised at move
The statement added that the move could easily be contested in court, something the class society has already initiated before the Court of First Instance of the European Communities.
GSCC expresses 'serious concerns' over rush to cut emissions
---In a candid letter to the Imo, the Greek Shipping Co-Operation Committee has warned the UN body against rushing through laws aimed at cutting ship emissions.The London-based Greek owners say the fast-tracking of CO2 reduction plans is a cause for "serious concern".
Signed by GSCC chairman, Epaminondas GE Embiricos, the letter said: "Great care should be taken to ensure any measures adopted by the organisation are practical and effective and do not have counterproductive consequences which will mitigate or even nullify any benefits arising from the adopted measures."
In the letter to the Imo sent as a covering note to a 'position paper' which sets forth the GSCC concerns on the Green House Gas reduction mechanisms being developed by Imo's Marine Environment Protection Committee (MEPC), the owners contend a proposed emissions trading scheme or bunker levy may damage both the shipping industry and the environment.
Embricos said: "We believe the imposition of a levy on the shipping industry would be inappropriate and counter productive with serious negative consequences not only for the shipping industry and, consequently, the world economy, but also for the environment itself."
The GSCC chairman said the Greek shipping body fully achnowledges the need for the reduction of GHG and "wholeheartedly supports the work of Imo in this area" but believes "great care has to be taken". He notes the debates at the MEPC have been instigated and supported mainly by the European Union.
The paper maintains financial incentives to develop efficient hull designs and reduce pollution are already provided by market forces, leading the group to argue there is no need for regulatory emissions reduction schemes.
"Emissions reduction which can be achieved through technological improvement is considered to be insufficient to achieve the scale of reductions envisaged by governments in order to arrest global warming," said the GSCC. It is thus concerned by that "further, reductions from the maritime sector can only be achieved by limiting or reducing the activity of the sector, thus limiting or reducing world trade".
It argues any financial incentive scheme should be part of an overall transport policy, which encourages transport by sea where possible, due to the industry's green credentials. The GSCC notes a study by the Oslo-based Centre for International Climate and Environmental Research suggests ship emissions such as sulphate help cool the globe "rather than having a warming effect".
The owners acknowledge, however, that there is a lack of clarity among scientists as to whether ship emissions contribute to global warming. But the GSCC maintains: "It would therefore be premature and inappropriate to target the shipping industry with measures of this kind before the actual effects of emissions from ships have been fully investigated and evaluated by further scientific study."
Emissions trading schemes are "a broad-brush approach which may well distort competition", said the GSCC.
-- Filed: 2008-08-05
Duty to act
By Julian Bray
Wednesday 6 August 2008
HOW far should shipping go to limit the causes and impact of climate change from its activities? A few years ago such a question would have been laughed off as irrelevant for an industry as independent-minded as shipping. Today, for most the question is not how far, but can shipping go far enough?
The London Greek shipowners in the GSCC came out forcibly against any enforced carbon trading scheme for shipping, arguing that market forces already provide every financial incentive to improve fuel efficiency and hence cut emissions. Further, they championed the contentious scientific claims that shipping may have a net cooling effect on the atmosphere.
It is a worrying development for shipping, since it risks once again making the industry appear reluctant to engage with widely accepted social standards. The scientific consensus on climate change is clear: the world needs to act, and act fast.
Shipowners are no different from any other member of society. They face their own moral duty to make radical choices to help solve this issue. If they do not, their children and grandchildren will know who to blame.
General Maritime and Arlington Tankers to combine
---August 6, 2008
General Maritime Corporation (NYSE: GMR) and Arlington Tankers Ltd. (NYSE: ATB ) have jointly announced a definitive agreement that will see the two companies combine in a stock- for-stock combination. Shareholders of General Maritime will receive 1.340 shares of the combined company for each share of General Maritime held, and shareholders of Arlington Tankers will receive one share for each share of Arlington Tankers held.
The combination will create a leading publicly traded tanker company with a modern, diverse fleet of 31 vessels (approximately 4.0 million dwt) with an average age of 8.0 years with a presence in both crude and product segments
Peter Georgiopoulos, Chairman, President and Chief Executive Officer of General Maritime, commented, "In merging General Maritime and Arlington Tankers, we have entered into a significant value creating transaction for the shareholders of both companies. We believe the new company's large diverse double-hull fleet, combined with its balanced chartering strategy, will offer shareholders stable cash flows as well as upside potential to the products and crude tanker markets. The combined company will further differentiate itself by having a sizeable fixed dividend target while retaining capital for growth. This approach, together with a strong financial position, bodes well for management to draw upon its considerable consolidation experience to capitalize on growth opportunities that meet strict return requirements. We believe our focus on growth, as well as the anticipated cash cost savings of the transaction, will position the combined company to increase earnings and pay substantial dividends to shareholders over the long-term."
"General Maritime is the ideal partner to increase value for Arlington Tankers' shareholders," said Ed Terino, Chief Executive Officer, President and Chief Financial Officer of Arlington Tankers. "The combination of General Maritime and Arlington Tankers provides significant opportunities for long- term growth in shareholder value as a result of the larger and more-diverse fleet, stronger financial position and highly experienced team to actively manage and further expand the fleet. Complementing the combined company's focus on fleet and earnings growth, I am pleased that our shareholders will have the opportunity to continue to receive attractive dividends supported by a balanced chartering strategy and a sizeable revenue stream."
The combined company, to be named General Maritime Corporation, will be headquartered in New York City. Shares in the combined company will continue to be listed on the NYSE and trade under the ticker symbol "GMR". Existing shareholders of General Maritime will own approximately 73% of the combined company and the existing shareholders of Arlington Tankers will own approximately 27% of the combined company. The combined company will be led by Peter Georgiopoulos as Chairman, John Tavlarios as President, Jeffrey Pribor as CFO and John Georgiopoulos as Executive Vice President, Treasurer and Secretary. General Maritime intends to discuss with Mr. Terino a consulting arrangement for assistance in the post-closing transition period. The Board of Directors of the combined company will consist of the six current General Maritime directors and one director from Arlington Tankers.
Together, General Maritime and Arlington Tankers are expected to generate revenue of approximately $353 million and EBITDA of approximately $235 million on a pro forma basis for 2008E. The combined company is expected to generate cash cost savings of approximately $7.5 million, as well as cost reductions relating to the General Maritime executive transition, in the first year of operations. The combined company expects to establish an initial annual dividend target, subject to determination by the combined company's Board, of $2.00 per share, with additional upside through synergies and continued growth.
Both General Maritime and Arlington Tankers have the support of their existing bank groups and have received preliminary approvals to roll-over their respective debt facilities.
Peter Georgiopoulos concluded by saying, "In leading the combined Company, we intend to be steadfast in our pursuit of creating value for shareholders over the long-term. In seeking to accomplish this critical objective, we will draw upon management's past success, which includes returning over $1 billion to shareholders and achieving total returns of 180% since going public in 2001. We are excited about the prospects of the combined company and will actively seek opportunities to grow the combined company's strong portfolio of assets, while maintaining a stable dividend return to our enlarged shareholder base."
The transaction is subject to the approval of the shareholders of both General Maritime and Arlington Tankers. Closing of the transaction is also subject to customary closing conditions and regulatory approvals, including expiration of the waiting period under Hart-Scott Rodino Act and similar approvals in other jurisdictions. The transaction is expected to close in the fourth quarter of 2008. Both General Maritime and Arlington Tankers are expected to pay their separate dividends for the third quarter of 2008, with the dividend for the fourth quarter of 2008 expected to be the first dividend paid by the combined company.
General Maritime also announced that, as noted above, contingent upon the closing of the proposed transaction, it expects Peter Georgiopoulos to remain as Chairman of the company and to step down as President and CEO with John Tavlarios becoming President of General Maritime.
As Chairman, Mr. Georgiopoulos will continue to focus on strategy and transactional operations of the company. The company expects to achieve substantial cash cost savings for salary and support expenses in connection with this transition, and to make a payment to Mr. Georgiopoulos in connection with the termination of his employment agreement and as a bonus for 2008. Further details regarding these matters can be found in a Current Report on Form 8-K to be filed by General Maritime today.
UBS Investment Bank acted as financial advisor and Kramer Levin Naftalis & Frankel LLP acted as legal advisor to General Maritime. Jefferies & Company acted as financial advisor and Wilmer Cutler Pickering Hale and Dorr LLP acted as legal advisor to Arlington Tankers.
Safe Bulkers, Inc. announces a new 23-months time charter at $63,000 average daily rate
About Safe Bulkers, Inc.
Dahlman Rose & Co: Tsakos Energy Navigation 2Q Results Surprise to the Upside on High Profit-Sharing
---Tsakos Energy Navigation (TNP / NYSE) reported strong 2Q EPS results of $1.82 versus our $1.27 estimate and the average Street forecast of $1.34.
>The biggest driver of the earnings beat came from much higher than expected revenues on its profit-sharing agreements on several chartered vessels. Its VLCC and Suezmax fleets earned an average daily TCE rate of $70,893/day and $56,580/day respectively compared to our much lower projections of $55,000/dahy and $48,000/day.
>We believe TNP shares hold considerable value but do not expect its shares to benefit materially until more aggressive moves by management to illuminate its discount value take place. We maintain our Hold rating.
TOP Ships announces court approval of proposed settlement
Nikolaos Stratis: Leaving NFC
Dear Friends and Colleagues,
After 7 great years with NFC the time has come for me to move on.
Taking the opportunity I would like to thank you all for your support and business over the past years and hope that we will continue to be in touch.
My mobile no. will remain the same +447843073253 and my personal email address is Nikolaos.Stratis@gmx.net.
Athens: 2nd International Symposium on Ship Operations, Management, and Economics
The Second International Symposium of the Greek Section of the Society of Naval Architects and Marine Engineers (SNAME), will bring together a number of speakers to discuss the latest developments in ship operations, management, and economics. Technical papers will cover the state of the art as well as developments and future challenges in areas such as operation, maintenance and repairs, manning and human factors, market forecasting, short area shipping, financing, safety and environmental management and new operating concepts.
The Symposium will be a two-day event. Start Date: 09/17/2008 End Date: 09/18/2008
Contact: Kostas Maounis, firstname.lastname@example.org