Greek Shipping News Cuts
Week 02 - 2009
This trend means that small, family-owned ferry companies that have traditionally dominated the Greek ferry scene will find it increasingly difficult to compete against larger groups with stronger financial backing. The arrival of investment vehicles such as Marfin and Sea Star may well herald a new direction for the industry.
In such times, cash rules and the most liquid and best-connected ship owners have a good chance to emerge from the current crisis considerably strengthened. Meanwhile, liquid owners might well take the opportunity to expand as second-hand vessels drop down to near rock-bottom levels.
Greeks continue to lead the way in a muted s&p market
---Greeks remained the driving force in the s&p market in 2008, but their activity was a marked reduction on previous years. Likewise, the market's other traditional big spenders, the Norwegians, pulled in their horns, especially in the latter part of the year.
Of confirmed deals, shipowners from Greece purchased just under 200 ships in 2008, less than half the 445 ships taken in 2007 according to data supplied by Piraeus-based Allied Shipbroking. In line with the decline in activity, the investment in 2008 by Greek owners was less than half that of 2007. Greeks spent just over $8bn in the second hand ring in 2008, compared to $16.94bn a year earlier.
After being massive buyers of dry bulk ships in 2007, deals in 2008 were down 60.08% to 107 ships. Tanker purchasing by Greek companies fell 42.86% to 64 vessels over the same period, says Allied's fina;l 2008 report.
Norwegian owners, the second biggest spenders a year ago, bought only 37 ships during 2008. As a result they dropped out of the top 10 in the investment table. China was the second most active player in both the volume and spending stakes, with its owners buying 86 vessels worth $2.78bn during 2008, the report says. This compares with 102 vessels worth $2.27bn the previous year.
As mentioned, these figures refer to 'identified' players. A feature of the 2008 market was the high percentage of 'unknown' buyers as both buyers and sellers sought to keep details of transactions out of the marketplace, because of the prices being paid. It is certain Greek buyers are prominent among this group. Further, as the year progressed an increasing number of deals reported as 'done' ultimately 'failed'.
-- Filed: 2009-01-09
Stelios: We'll see the worst two years of our life
By Lauren Mills, Last updated at 11:10 PM on 10th January 2009
It should have been a rare chance for Sir Stelios Haji-Ioannou to relax and enjoy his new villa on St Barts in the French West Indies, with little to contemplate beyond the fact that plunging property prices mean he is already nursing a loss on his luxury property.
But just as he was about to set off for the Christmas break, there came the devastating news that his 81-year-old father, Loucas, had died in his native Athens after a lengthy illness.
Haji-Ioannou, 41, immediately flew to the Greek capital to comfort his mother, older brother Polys and sister Clelia. Though he was labelled 'a rebel' by Loucas for leaving Troodos Shipping - the family business that was at one point in the Eighties the world's biggest independent tanker operator - Haji-Ioannou clearly holds his father in high regard.
'Sometimes it is only after one has lost somebody that you realise what sound advice they gave you while they were still with you,' he says.
Looking at Haji-Ioannou's achievements, it seems his father's influence has always been with him. The two men might be very different - Loucas, the old-style shipping buccaneer who built his business from scratch; Haji-Ioannou, the new-style Greek elite educated at the London School of Economics.
But Haji-Ioannou is acutely aware that to sustain his success, he needs to rethink what works best for his 'easy' branded businesses.
He has spent the past few weeks trying to convince anyone who asks that his easyGroup empire - which has dabbled in everything from internet cafes, cinemas and pizza delivery to car rentals, hotels and serviced offices - is in good health.
Having stepped down as easyJet chairman in 2002 after floating the company in 2000, Haji-Ioannou sparked speculation in November that he might need cash when he criticised the investment plans of easyJet's board.
Haji-Ioannou, now a non-executive director, thinks that capital expenditure should be reined in over the next two years to help easyJet ride out the recession.
He was able to start throwing his weight around after easyJet shares held by his sister Clelia were transferred to him, raising his voting rights from 15.6 per cent to 26.9 per cent - beyond the crucial 25 per cent threshold. Add in the stake of brother Polys and the family owns 38 per cent of easyJet.
'The time must come to say cash is king. We need to preserve cash and build margins, rather than go for growth,' he says.
But Haji-Ioannou signed off the original Airbus order when he was still the airline's chairman. So he knows that easyJet will pay far less than the list price if, as it is rumoured, he negotiated a massive discount on the deal.
Yet he remains concerned about where the money for the new planes will come from as the global economy goes into a tailspin. 'The capital markets are closed, so we can't borrow,' he says.
But easyJet has cash on the balance sheet and finance in place for the next 17 months, so what is he worried about?
'The question is, what happens if things start going wrong? You start eating into your own cash. So it might be a good idea to defer some of these purchases,' he says.
Luckily for easyJet, its Airbus contract is flexible enough to allow for deferrals with 18 months' notice. The board has already sold two planes and deferred an order for four Airbus A319s due for delivery in summer 2010.
So surely Haji-Ioannou is pleased that the board has gone some way to meet his demands? Not really. He is adamant it should go further.
Haji-Ioannou will spend the next few weeks ahead of easyJet's February 6 annual meeting drumming that message home. 'For every aircraft to be profitable it must carry 300,000 passengers a year,' he says.
'So far we have been able to generate these passengers, but I have a nasty feeling some of these trips will not happen in a recession. So why do you need all these new aircraft?'
Haji-Ioannou wants easyJet to keep its fleet static at 170 planes for the next two years. 'We are going to see the worst two years of our lifetime,' he says. 'It is all about risk mitigation.'
As easyJet's largest shareholder it is in Haji-Ioannou's interest to ensure the airline streamlines its operations in the hope the share price takes off.
He is convinced it will, eventually. Perhaps this is why he is refocusing his easyGroup portfolio of companies to concentrate on travel-related businesses and serviced offices, sectors he thinks carry the brand best.
Haji-Ioannou is unfazed. His biggest mistake, he says, was rushing ahead with a chain of internet cafes in the wake of the dotcom frenzy. He says he has a rule of thumb where he is 'quite happy to have a third of my businesses good, a third average and a third of them basket cases'.
Then he asks: 'Can I admit a little mistake? In March I bought this little villa in St Barts. It was already 30 per cent down on the asking price, so I thought I was getting a bargain.
'I bought it for 2.5million euros and it is probably worth 1.5million euros now. So, like everybody else, I am suffering from the property crash.'
You wonder why the usually proud and intensely private Haji-Ioannou is bragging about losing money. It seems, quite simply, that he is keen to own up to and learn from his mistakes.
'Most people say they never make mistakes in life and never admit to any. But why not admit you make mistakes. It is more honest,' he says.
Perhaps this is aimed at the easyJet board and the potential 'mistake' of pressing on with a big expansion when the airline industry is contracting. So was splashing out on a new villa a mistake?
'I did make a financial mistake in buying it, but it is worth admitting your mistake, especially if it is an enjoyable one,' he says.
Despite the loss of his father, he remains as entrepreneurial as ever. But you get the impression that since then Haji-Ioannou, still single with no children, is taking a more mature approach to investment and to life. He still visits his mother in Athens once a month and says he has little spare time to relax. His hobby, he says, is his work. His dream, though, is to learn to sail.
His new place in St Barts gives him the perfect base to realise his dream so, despite falling property values, to Haji-Ioannou it is worth every euro.
Like father, like son
Loucas Haji-Ioannou, the self-styled 'king of tankers', was once the world's largest independent tanker owner.
He was born to poor Greek Cypriot farmers in the Troodos Mountains in
1927. After leaving school aged 17, he did a stint as a salesman before working for his uncle, a trader in Cairo, first as an accountant and later managing his office in Saudi Arabia.
After his uncle died, Loucas, below, worked his way into the shipping business in Saudi. A turning point came in the mid-Sixties when he realised that he could make vast sums in the booming oil trade. Business peaked in the Iran-Iraq war of 1980 to 1988 when Loucas was one of the few owners to risk sending tankers to the Gulf.
Tragedy struck in 1991 when his ship Haven exploded off Genoa, killing five people and sparking lawsuits from the Italian government. Though the family was cleared of any wrongdoing, the incident took its toll on Loucas's health. Troodos Shipping was wound down and the vessels were ceded to his eldest son, Polys.
He was delighted when his fame was exceeded by that of his second son, Stelios.
Banks are responsible for the current crisis, claims Vafias
In a hard hitting round table debate to be published in the January issue of Ship Management International, StealthGas boss Harry Vafias said problems could lie ahead for the shipping industry as the banks become nationalised and if their owning governments are not interested in shipping.
He said: I think the banks are responsible for at least 80% of what is happening and I am talking about banks in general not just the shipping banks. Today the banks are not very well capitalised so when they have a chance to take in cash or squeeze owners for cash when they breach their loan covenants or when a charterer defaults, they will scrutinise the loan agreement in great detail. Whenever they have a chance to ask for money they will. In very few circumstances will they be cooperative and flexible.
Source: Wednesday, 01.07.2009, 12:26pm, http://www.shipmanagementinternational.com/?p=736
Hellenic Register silent over ships off its books
---Greek classification society the Hellenic Register of Shipping (HRS) is keeping silent over reports that it has lost 100 ships from its books.
Greek classification society the Hellenic Register of Shipping (HRS) is keeping silent over reports that it has lost 100 ships from its books.
HRS managing director Dimitris Gousis says the number reported by local media in Greece is not correct. He concedes there have been losses but is unwilling to reveal how many of its 400 or so oceangoing ships no longer hold HRS certification.
Gousis says the tally has dwindled as certificates issued by the HRS have expired. The European Commission (EC) put a stop to HRS issuing certificates in early August, claiming standards-compliance issues. Gousis says current HRS certificates are effectual but once their expiry date has come up, owners are forced to seek class elsewhere.
He took over the top position at HRS in September from long-standing managing director Konstandinos Chiou, who remains on the board of directors.
A definitive decision on whether the 90-year-old class society will remain fully functional is expected in the first week of February. The Lisbon-based European Maritime Safety Agency (Emsa) has completed its audit and recommendations process, Gousis says.
Emsa's criteria are similar to those used for membership of the International Association of Classification Societies (IACS).
The HRS had been targeting membership of the IACS for some years and was in close talks with Lloyd's Register and Germanischer Lloyd over equity participation as it attempted to attain the requirements. However, nothing came of the discussions.
Despite the EC setback, the HRS is still recognised by another 32 flag states including industry leaders Panama and the Marshall Islands.
By Yiota Gousas Athens Published: 00:00 GMT, 09 Jan 2009 | last updated: 14:24 GMT, 08 Jan 2009
Greeks on Forbes list of World Bilionaires
#68 Spiro Latsis & family
Net Worth: $11.0 bil
Country Of Citizenship: Greece
Residence: Geneva , Switzerland, Europe & Russia
Marital Status: married, 2 children
London School of Economics, Doctorate
Greece's richest has stakes in financial services, oil refining, real estate, shipping, and high-class travel. His private banking group, EFG International, went on an acquisition spree last year; analysts now expect pace of buyouts and earnings to slow. Single largest shareholder in Hellenic Petroleum. In 2004 started PrivatSea, an exclusive yacht club that promises members an exceptional experience onboard some of the world's most spectacular yachts, including the Alexander, at 400 feet reportedly the world's fourth-largest private yacht.
#707 George Economou
Fortune: self made
Net Worth: $1.7 bil
Country Of Citizenship: Greece
Residence: Athens , Greece, Europe & Russia
Marital Status: divorced, 5 children
Education: Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Bachelor of Arts / Science
Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Master of Science
A self-made Greek shipping magnate, Economou has experience navigating in turbulent waters. Led the Greek dry bulk shipping companies to Wall Street when he listed his DryShips on Nasdaq in 2005. Also owns oil tankers and more dry bulk ships and manages both the private and public ships through his Cardiff Marine. First Wall Street venture ended badly when Alpha Shipping defaulted on $175 million of junk bonds in 1999; Economou got to keep most of Alpha's fleet by paying 37 cents on the dollar. Recently ventured into deep-sea oil drilling but enraged investors when he got DryShips to bankroll his plans.
#897 Gabriel Panayotides & family
Fortune: self made
Net Worth: $1.3 bil
Country Of Citizenship: Greece
Residence: , Greece, Europe & Russia
Marital Status: NA,
Started career in shipping 30 years ago; today benefiting from industry's boom. Controls 52% of Steamship Company TORM, which operates a fleet of about 85 tankers and bulk cargo carriers. Also chairs Excel Maritime Carriers, which agreed to buy larger rival Quintana Maritime Ltd. for $2.5 billion in January. Member of the Greek Committee of Bureau Veritas.
#962 John Coustas
Fortune: inherited and growing
Net Worth: $1.2 bil
Country Of Citizenship: Greece
Residence: Athens , Greece, Europe & Russia
Marital Status: married,
Imperial College London
Chief executive of Danaos catapulted to billionaire status following the successful IPO of his Danaos shipping company in October; owns 80% stake. Assumed leadership of the company from father Dimitris who founded the firm in 1972. Holds master's degree in computer science and Ph.D in computer controls from Imperial College, London. Parlayed technical knowledge into shipping software company, Danaos Management Consultants.
Source: www.forbes.com, jan 2009
Aegean Marine Petroleum Network appointed exclusive bunkering company for new port in Morocco
---PIRAEUS, Greece, Jan 06, 2009 /PRNewswire-FirstCall via COMTEX News Network/ --
Company Appointed as the Exclusive Bunkering Company in Port of Tangiers
Aegean Marine Petroleum Network Inc. (NYSE: ANW) today announced that Horizon Tangiers Terminal S.A. (HTTSA), a special purpose consortium, has named Aegean as the exclusive bunkering company for the new port in Tangiers, Morocco. The agreement, which is scheduled to become effective in January 2009 upon completion of final documentation, will further expand Aegean's global presence.
The appointment of Aegean by HTTSA is an important part of the consortium's effort to expand the modern port in this growing region. Currently, the port serves approximately 7,000 vessels on an annual basis and is expected to increase to more than 10,000 vessels annually in 2010. Aegean will provide retail bunkering services to ships in port on an exclusive basis for a period of 25 to 35 years. Aegean will also have the right to expand its operation beyond the port perimeter, which is strategically located along the Strait of Gibraltar connecting the Atlantic Ocean to the Mediterranean Sea.
E. Nikolas Tavlarios, President, commented, "We are excited to have been appointed by HTTSA to serve as the exclusive, long-term bunkering company in the port of Tangiers upon conclusion of a competitive selection process. By once again entering a new strategic market, Aegean will further strengthen its leading position as an independent supplier of marine fuel on a global basis. The port of Tangiers serves as an attractive gateway to the vast Mediterranean and North African regions and is well positioned for future growth. As Tangiers continues to expand into a major transportation hub serving important shipping routes, we expect to enhance our ability to meet the burgeoning demand for our bunkering services and significantly increase sales volumes."
Mr. Tavlarios added, "We expect to commence operations in the first quarter 2009 upon receiving the necessary trading, bunkering, and environmental licenses required by the local authorities. Going forward, we intend to draw upon our considerable financial strength and capitalize on additional expansion opportunities that complement our existing platform and drive long-term shareholder value."
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. The Company procures product from various sources (such as refineries, oil producers, and traders) and resells it to a diverse group of customers across all major commercial shipping sectors and leading cruise lines. Currently, Aegean has a global presence in 13 markets, including Vancouver, Montreal, Mexico, Jamaica, West Africa, Gibraltar, U.K., Northern Europe, Greece, the United Arab Emirates as well as Singapore, and plans to commence operations in Tangiers, Morocco and the southern Caribbean.
About Horizon Tangiers Terminals S.A.
Horizon Tangiers Terminals S.A. is a special purpose consortium created to construct and develop an oil storage and distribution terminal at the new Tangiers port development. The shareholders of the consortium are comprised of Horizon Terminals Ltd., Afriquia SMDC, and Independent Petroleum Group.
Cautionary Statement Regarding Forward-Looking Statements
Matters discussed in this press release may constitute forward-looking statements. The Private Securities Litigation Reform Act of 1995 provides safe harbor protections for forward-looking statements in order to encourage companies to provide prospective information about their business. Forward-looking statements include statements concerning plans, objectives, goals, strategies, future events or performance, and underlying assumptions and other statements, which are other than statements of historical facts.
The Company desires to take advantage of the safe harbor provisions of the Private Securities Litigation Reform Act of 1995 and is including this cautionary statement in connection with this safe harbor legislation. The words "believe," "intend," "anticipate," "estimate," "project," "forecast," "plan," "potential," "may," "should," "expect" and similar expressions identify forward-looking statements. The forward-looking statements in this press release are based upon various assumptions, many of which are based, in turn, upon further assumptions, including without limitation, our management's examination of historical operating trends, data contained in our records and other data available from third parties. Although we believe that these assumptions were reasonable when made, because these assumptions are inherently subject to significant uncertainties and contingencies which are difficult or impossible to predict and are beyond our control, we cannot assure you that we will achieve or accomplish these expectations, beliefs or projections.
In addition to these important factors, other important factors that, in our view, could cause actual results to differ materially from those discussed in the forward-looking statements include our ability to manage growth, our ability to maintain our business in light of our proposed business and location expansion, our ability to obtain double hull secondhand bunkering tankers, the outcome of legal, tax or regulatory proceedings to which we may become a party, adverse conditions in the shipping or the marine fuel supply industries, our ability to retain our key suppliers and key customers, material disruptions in the availability or supply of crude oil or refined petroleum products, changes in the market price of petroleum, including the volatility of spot pricing, increased levels of competition, compliance or lack of compliance with various environmental and other applicable laws and regulations, our ability to collect accounts receivable, changes in the political, economic or regulatory conditions in the markets in which we operate, and the world in general, our failure to hedge certain financial risks associated with our business, our ability to maintain our current tax treatments and our failure to comply with restrictions in our credit agreements and other factors. Please see our filings with the Securities and Exchange Commission for a more complete discussion of these and other risks and uncertainties.
Source: Press Release, http://www.ampni.com,
Piraeus Marine Club will hold the 9th International P&I Conference on January 22, 2009
Source: Piraeus Marine Club