Greek Shipping News Cuts
Week 43 - 2008
---The Greek Prime Minister visited Downing Street today to discuss the global credit crunch with the shipping world beginning to feel the crisis with one large bankruptcy already announced and the potential that London jobs could be at risk.
The shipping community in London is experiencing a near crisis situation with the collapse of the dry bulk shipping market caused by the global economic slowdown with the news that operator Industrial Carriers Inc filing for bankruptcy which last year had revenues of $1 billion but had liabilities of around $33 million.
According to a report in the Journal of Commerce:
"During the market's free-fall that began this summer, rates for 150,000-165,000-ton Capesize ships crashed by 50 percent as of last week to just over $12,000 a day compared with a peak of $233,000 in late May."
Speaking to the Journal of Commerce a London shipbroker Clarkson said:
The London shipping community is dominated by the Greek shipping families who as yet have not publicly expressed any undue concerns about the state of the shipping market, and who traditionally have prospered when the price of crude has increased. But as crude oil prices plummet and inflation goes up in the main European and US markets the dry bulk cargo market is shrinking and will affect the bottom lines of these companies.
It is estimated that in London alone around 40,000 people are employed directly and indirectly from the Greek shipping families alone who account for around 70 per cent of trade at the Baltic Exchange.
The Greek Prime Minister Costas Karamanlis visited Prime Minister Gordon Brown today to discuss the economic crisis. Greece particularly is reliant on shipping and will be concerned at the state of the shipping market. Some Greek ship owners have expressed their intention to repatriate some of their companies to Greece and benefit from less punitive tax regimes which would be a blow to London.
Source: 21 October, 2008 17:38 (GMT +00:00), http://www.thelondondailynews.com/london-shipping-community-takes-slowdown-p-1616.html
Athex will have the welcome mat out when the crisis is over
---The Athens Stock Exchange is moving fast to position itself to be a player in the next cycle of development that it believes will bring rebirth to shipping markets. As the current financial crisis deepens, the exchange is planning ahead having made a number of changes in its regulations to make them more attractive.
"We strongly believe that at periods of recession shipping companies should evaluate the possibility to restructure their balance sheets and to issue equity instead of debt, while investors should consider positioning themselves wisely in fields with a proven track record and await for the market to recover," said Spyros Capralos, chairman of the Athens Stock Exchange.
"For this reason, the Athex has made a number of changes in its regulations, aiming to make the listing requirements for shipping companies more flexible," he said.
"Funding is the major issue arising from the current credit crisis; going public for a shipping company that has an interesting story and a good track record might constitute a good alternative in order to raise capital at a lower cost," said Capralos.
Addressing a meeting of the International Propeller Club of the United States Port of Piraeus, Capralos said "small shipping companies are the weak link in the chain and soon they will face intense pressure from banks".
Further, all Athex market segments are offered from the Big Cap Segment for companies with a market cap of over Euro 150m and equity of Euro 15m, on a consolidated basis, down to the Alternative Market for companies wishing to get listed on a market with less rigid listing requirements and limited disclosure obligations, equity of Euro 1m, on a consolidated basis.
"We have created a friendler listing environment. Now, it is shipowners' turn to decide to come to Athens" said Capralos. He scoffed at suggestions the Athex was not large enough for a major shipping IPO, declaring the exchange has proved to have enough fundraising capacity to support an IPO of any size. He said that in 2007 some Euro 11bn was raised through the Athex and noted this capacity is due to the presence of international investors who hold more than 50% of the total capitalisation of Athex.
"We have a Corporate Governance framework that protects investors without the excessive red tape and costs other foreign regulations impose such as the Sarbanes Oxley Act for companies listed in the US exchanges. We have reduced bureaucracy and adopted quick and flexible listing procedures," said Capralos.
Hellas: Shipping currency inflows increase
Yesterday, the Baltic Dry Index continued its downward trend which began at the beginning of the month. Although this week, the drop is moderated, still the index has kept on falling. It now stands at 1149 points, falling a further 72 points from the previous session.
Source: Friday, 24 October 2008, Nikos Roussanoglou, Hellenic Shipping News
Ship owner fined $750,000 for dumping oil at sea
---A cargo ship owner has been fined $750,000 for dumping waste oil at sea before docking in Oakland, federal prosecutors said Friday.
Casilda Shipping Ltd., the Maltese company that owns the 23,000-ton Rio Gold, pleaded guilty Wednesday to conspiring to falsify waste disposal records, U.S. Attorney Joseph Russoniello's office said.
The ship's operating company, Genesis Seatrading Corp., and its chief engineer, Pantellis Thomas, both from Greece, also pleaded guilty, prosecutors said. Genesis' sentence includes a mandatory three-year environmental compliance plan, and Thomas was fined $5,000.
They admitted using equipment known as a magic pipe to bypass the ship's antipollution system and discharge untreated waste oil into the ocean between July 2007, when the ship was purchased, and May 2008, just before it docked in Oakland, prosecutors said.
This article appeared on page B - 3 of the San Francisco Chronicle
Source: Bob Egelko, Chronicle Staff Writer, Saturday, October 25, 2008, http://www.sfgate.com
Star Bulk Announces that Nobu Su Resigns from the Position of Director
Akis Tsirigakis, President and CEO of Star Bulk commented: "We would like to thank Nobu Su for his service to the Board and acknowledge his contribution in the development of Star Bulk. In light of current market conditions, we would like to emphasize our company's financial health, having a strong balance sheet and liquidity. Our stated time charter strategy, having amongst the highest levels of contracted revenue coverage, we believe has limited our exposure to current market volatility and protects our revenues. In this context, the contracted fleet operating days under time charter in 2008, 2009 and 2010 is currently 98%, 80% and 66% respectively."
Source: Athens, Greece, October 20, 2008 - Star Bulk Carriers Corp. (NASDAQ:SBLK) announced today that Mr. Nobu Su has resigned from his position as member of the Company's Board of Directors with immediate effect. Mr. Su noted that the reason for his resignation is his wish to devote more time to his other business interests.
TOP Ships says no to Economou
---On 22nd October an exclusivity agreement between TOP Ships and an affiliate of George Economou expired.
TOP Ships, formerly known as TOP Tankers, operates a combined tanker and drybulk fleet. The tanker sector includes the following:
> Seven double-hull handymax tankers, with a total carrying capacity of approximately 300,000 dwt, of which 58% are sisterships. They are all on timecharter with an average term of two years. All of the timecharters include profit sharing agreements above their base rates.
> Six newbuilding product tankers, which are due to be delivered in the first half of 2009. All the newbuildings have fixed rate bareboat employment agreements for periods between seven and 10 years.
Source: (Oct 24 2008), Tanker Operator news
Alba Maritime in newbuilding resale
---ALBA MARITIME Services, a Greek shipowner who has been gaining attention through its active procurement of mainly large bulker newbuildings, appears to be selling off Capesize bulkers in large volumes through newbuilding resale deals. According to overseas media sources, such as Marinenet, Alba has already sold off almost half of the 24 ships it has ordered thus far.
Alba Maritime placed orders for 12 ships each with two South Korean shipyards, namely STX Shipbuilding and Sungdong Shipbuilding & Marine Engineering.
According to reports, it has sold two ships to Tata Power, two to Navios, three to Capital Ship Management, one to Irika Shipping, and one to a Croatian shipping company.
The 12 ships ordered from STX range in price from $82M to $107M apiece, and Alba Maritime has apparently made a reasonable gain from the selling off of those ships.
Source: Fairply daily News, 22 Oct 2008
Globus cuts price
---Globus Maritime is slashing the price of a 1995-built handymax by 30% to secure the sale, but still expects to book a profit.
The UK-listed shipowner said it had agreed to sell the Ocean Globe for $37m. One month ago the bulker was set to fetch $52.25m.
As a further security, the buyer has had to increase its deposit to secure the sale to $10.45m, about 28% of the new price.
Compatriot owner Nikator Navigation remains the buyer and expects to take delivery of the ship during the first week of November.
Globus said it still expected to book a capital gain of about $15m on the sale of the ship, which it bought in July 2006 for $25m.
By Dale Wainwright in Singapore
Published: 06:16 GMT, 24 Oct 2008 | last updated: 07:35 GMT, 24 Oct 2008
Capital Product Partners L.P. Announces Cash Distribution
---ATHENS, Greece, Oct 24, 2008 (GlobeNewswire via COMTEX News Network) -- Capital Product Partners L.P. (Nasdaq:CPLP) today announced that its board of directors has declared a cash distribution of $0.41 per unit for the third quarter ended September 30, 2008.
The third quarter cash distribution remains unchanged from the previous cash distribution of $0.41 per unit, which was paid for the period from April 1, 2008 to June 30, 2008 and is 6.5 percent higher than the third quarter 2007 distribution. The minimum quarterly distribution at the time of the IPO was set at $0.375.
The cash distribution for the third quarter is payable on November 17, 2008, to unitholders of record on November 7, 2008.
About Capital Product Partners L.P.
Capital Product Partners L.P. (Nasdaq:CPLP), a Marshall Islands master limited partnership, is an international owner of modern double-hull tankers. Capital Product Partners L.P. owns 18 modern vessels, comprising 15 MR tankers, two small product tankers and one Suezmax crude oil tanker. All 18 vessels are under medium to long-term charters to BP Shipping Limited, Morgan Stanley Capital Group Inc., Overseas Shipholding Group, Shell International Trading & Shipping Company Ltd., and Trafigura Beheer B.V.
For more information about the Partnership, please visit our website: www.capitalpplp.com.
Navios Maritime Partners increases cash distribution by 10% to $0.385 per unit
---PIRAEUS, GREECE - October 21, 2008 - Navios Maritime Partners L.P. ("Navios Partners") (NYSE: NMM), an owner and operator of Capesize and Panamax vessels, announced today that its Board of Directors has declared increased cash distribution of $0.385 per unit for the third quarter ended September 30, 2008. This distribution represents a 10% increase over the prior quarter's distribution of $0.35 per unit. The cash distribution will be payable on November 7, 2008 to unit holders of record as of October 31, 2008.
Seanergy Announces Appointment of New Chief Financial Officer
About Christina Anagnostara: Christina Anagnostara has served as Chief Financial Officer and Board member in Global Oceanic Carriers Ltd (GO Carriers), a dry bulk shipping company listed on AIM of the London Stock Exchange, since February 2007. She has over 14 years of experience in consulting, auditing and financial services. In the last 8 years, prior to joining GO Carriers, she has held a senior management position in EFG Audit & Consulting services, the auditors of the Geneva based EFG Group. During her career, Christina has been involved in a number of business and process audits and consulting assignments, due diligence, special reviews and investigations. Prior to EFG Group, she worked for 2 years in the internal audit group of Eurobank EFG, a bank with a leading position in Greece; and 3 years as a senior auditor in Ernst & Young, the international auditing firm. Christina studied Economics in Greece and is a Certified Chartered Accountant since 2002.
For further information please visit our website at www.seanergymaritime.com.
Source: Press release, www.seanergymaritime.com
Claims against Industrial Carriers could top $100m
Nigel Lowry, Athens - Thursday 23 October 2008
The highest individual claim to emerge so far is that of B+H Ocean Carriers.
DETAILS of individual claims against Industrial Carriers (ICI), and a degree of anger, are emerging as shipowners and other parties pursue the collapsed dry bulk and tanker operator.
Sources in a position to have seen a number of claims attest that amounts being chased are likely to top $100m, with one estimate reaching as high as $400m.
The highest individual claim to emerge so far is that of B+H Ocean Carriers, which has filed against ICI for $24m, after the Ukraine-based chartering firm allegedly dumped a three-year charter on the 1988-built, 55,000 gt Sachem that had most of its hire period left to run.
Another of the larger claims is being filed by dry bulk carrier firm Odysea Carriers which had chartered the 1993-built handymax Tektoneos to ICI for 12 months at $56,000 per day.
A spokesman at the privately-run Athens-based company said the charterer had defaulted with three-quarters of the period remaining, leaving a claim of $14m.
The others that acted to freeze assets were Rich Mark Development (Group), Venus Seatrade and NMK Shipping, all of which have hearings in Piraeus well before the November 25 date set for the bankruptcy hearing.
A legal source close to the case said this week that while ICI had settled with a significant number of owners, mostly by assigning charter hire from relets the company had entered into on many of the ships, about 40 claimants remained.
It is understood that several more claims are in the region of $2.5m, which one source equated with the amount that a capesize bulker hired at the peak of the market might have run up in two weeks of arrears before some owners took action.
A number of companies have filed suit against ICI in New York courts, including SK Shipping (Singapore), Glory Wealth, Rizzo-Bottiglieri and ADM Shipping. Panoceanic Maritime and TKB Shipping, that filed claims of $1.2m and $73,000 in New York respectively, were said by lawyers to have settled with ICI.
A high number of Greek shipowners are among those left out of pocket, including Good Faith Shipping which is understood to be pursuing a claim of at least $1.5m against ICI in respect of its bulker La Donna I. Tomasos Brothers is also understood to have a claim for an unknown amount.
Among Greek companies that sources say settled with ICI before the final collapse last week are Interunity, World Management, Grecomar, Cardiff Marine, Fafalios Shipping, Oceanfreight and Star Bulkers.
Salvage: Why No State Immunity for the Iraqi Government?
Contributed by Ince & Co
October 22 2008
The case involved a challenge by the Ministry of Trade of Iraq and the Grain Board of Iraq of an arbitration award on the grounds that (i) there was no valid arbitration agreement that bound them; and (ii) the Grain Board, the cargo interest under the award, was immune from arbitration proceedings as it was part of the Ministry of Trade, and was entitled to claim state immunity.
The tribunal held that:
* the cargo was the property of the Grain Board;
* the board was a separate entity from the Iraqi government;
* the cargo was a commercial cargo; and
* the board had agreed to arbitration because it was a party to the LOF by virtue of Article 6.2 of the 1989 Salvage Convention, which provides:
Arguments on jurisdiction
The first issue to be addressed on appeal was whether a valid arbitration agreement was ever entered into. That is to say: were the owners of the cargo bound by the LOF?
The court found that they were and reasoned as follows. Section 224 of the Merchant Shipping Act 1995 incorporates the provisions of the Salvage Convention into UK law. As the LOF provided for arbitration in London and the United Kingdom is a state party to the Salvage Convention, the Salvage Convention applies to LOF arbitration proceedings. The court noted that it was irrelevant that Iraq has neither ratified nor acceded to the Salvage Convention, as this is not the test for the application of the provisions of that convention to this matter.
Arguments on immunity
The second issue of interest was whether the Grain Board was immune from arbitration proceedings on the basis of state immunity. The court began by considering Section 9(1) of the UK State Immunity Act 1978, which provides:
"Where a state has agreed in writing to submit a dispute which has arisen, or may arise, to arbitration, the state is not immune as respects proceedings in the courts of the United Kingdom which relate to the arbitration."
By virtue of the operation of Article 6.2 of the Salvage Convention, the managers, as agents of the shipowners, concluded the LOF on behalf of the Grain Board. There could be no dispute that the LOF was agreed in writing. Accordingly, it followed that the Grain Board had agreed in writing to arbitration in accordance with the LOF, as a result of which the challenge on the grounds of state immunity failed.
* it had not been acquired for commercial purposes; and
* this was not a normal government commercial transaction.
The court confirmed that, even if the motive or purpose of the acquisition of the cargo had a governmental interest, that is not the test. The relevant test for immunity under section 14(2) goes to the character of the act, rather than its motive or purpose. The act of entering into the LOF did not have the character of a governmental act.
Finally, the court found that Tsavliris was entitled to enforce the award in the same manner as a judgment and succeeded in its application for a freezing injunction. On the latter application, the court held that on the evidence there was a real risk that in the absence of a freezing injunction the award would go unsatisfied: the Grain Board had:
* refused to provide security pursuant to the LOF;
* refused to participate in the arbitration;
* failed prior to the hearing to make any offer to honour the award on a basis which protected its position for the purposes of the hearing; and
* failed throughout the hearing to make any offer of an undertaking to honour the award in the event that its arguments were unsuccessful.
This case underlines the authority of shipowners, their employees and agents to enter into LOF contracts on behalf of cargo interests, no matter who they may be, including state parties. Consistent with the trend in public international law towards a restrictive approach to sovereign immunity, it also confirmed that a state entity such as the Iraqi Grain Board cannot shelter behind the cloak of state immunity (even, as in this case, where the purpose of the shipment was for distribution to the Iraqi population, rather than profit), where the character of the act in respect of which it claims immunity is not a governmental one. As the act of entering into a salvage agreement is not governmental in character (or, put another way, is an act which any private citizen can perform), state entities cannot claim state immunity in respect of that act. Finally, the court had no hesitation in granting an injunction to freeze state assets where the state had previously shown no intention to pay up voluntarily.
For further information on this topic please contact Kevin Cooper at Ince & Co by telephone (+86 21 6329 1212) or by fax (+86 21 6321 5468) or by email (firstname.lastname@example.org).