Greek Shipping News Cuts
Week 15 - 2009
---09 Apr 2009. The 9-hour long testimony of ship-owner Fotis Manousis to the special Parliament Committee investigating bribery case of deputy and former Minister for the Aegean Aristotelis Pavlidis concluded late on Thursday. According to reports, the shop-owner did not give any further evidence, however, he maintained that he had informed Merchant Marine Minister Manolis Kefaloyiannis as well as other officials on the situation in the subsidized (non-profitable) sea lines.
Mr. Kefaloyiannis reconfirmed that he had never met with Mr. Manousis during his term in the Merchant Marine Ministry.
In the meantime, the Speaker of the House Office has said that the second law report which indicates involvement of former Minister for the Aegean Aristotelis Pavlidis in a bid on the subsidized 2005 Dodecanese sea lines. Mr. Pavlidis said that he is not concerned whether the second law report is handed to the Parliament Committee investigating the case.
Furthermore Mr. Manousis maintained that Antonis Bardoulakis -Mr. Pavlidis advisor- participated in a committee evaluating bids on subsidized sea lines, which is forbidden.
PASOK deputies asked for the opening of bank accounts of the person who sold the apartment to Mr. Pavlidis daughter as well as the inspection of Mr. Pavlidis brother's checks.
PASOK spokesmanGeorge Papakonstantinou avoided to comment on information in Mr. Manousis testimony but made clear that PASOK would send the former Minister to court if there is evidence on any illegal action.
"Pavlidis case is exercising strong pressure on the government and burdens public life" said PASOK deputy Evangelos Benizelos stressing that the necessity to accelerate clearing up of the case and operation of the Parliament Committee with institutional sobriety to reveal the truth and attribute responsibilities to ones responsible.
"The ND with its unfruitful policies created fruitful ground so that some to make money at the expense of islanders under shadowy procedures" said LAOS spokesman Kyriakos Belopoulos.
Deputy Anastasios Kamaros gave a statement in the afternoon while two employees of Mr. Manousis are to give statements as witnesses.
---A committee of MPs set up to investigate charges of corruption against former Aegean Minister Aristotelis Pavlidis yesterday called for the opening of his bank accounts and those of others close to him.
In a related development, the government rejected calls by opposition PASOK for another committee to be set up to probe the Siemens scandal, saying such a move would impede the course of justice.
Agoudimos rushed to hospital suffering pharmaceutical poisoning
---Colourful shipowner Gerassimos Agoudimos was rushed from his home to hospital late April 5 after apparently suffering "pharmaceutical poisoning". The veteran bulk ship and ferry owner was taken by his family to a public hospital, Asclepieio in Voula, and after initial treatment was transferred to a private clinic.
The incident occurred after Agoudimos, 70, had visited the Marine, Aegean and Island Policy ministry to discuss some Euro 9m he claims is owed to his company G.A. Ferries for operating public service ferry routes. Agoudimos maintains failure to pay the subsidies agreed has led to unpaid crew striking on the company's ships for the past three months and has placed the jobs of some 600 employees on the line.
It has meanwhile emerged that French bank Natixis has arrested the 1995-built ferry Jet Ferry 1, part of the Agoudimos-owned eight-vessel GA Ferries fleet, with the owner said to be in arrears on some $1.5m in repayments. Jet Ferry 1 was half of a two-vessel funding package of Euro 16m arranged with the French lender in 2007. The other vessel in the package is the 1979-built ro-pax Anthi Marina, the former Spirit of Free Enterprise.
April 6, while Agoudimos was recovering, Marine minister Anastasis Papaligouras and deputy minister Panos Kammenos met with employees of GA Ferries and those of the Fotis Manousis-controlled Saos ANES, who are also striking and facing losing their jobs, in a bid to reach an agreement. Papaligouras insisted shipowners seeking subsidies had to act according to the law and submit all the documentation required. He said these two owners did not do this.
Papaligouras told the employees GA Ferries had submitted invoices for Euro 6.3m and that Euro 1.95m has been approved and is waiting to be collected. Euro 2.5m has been approved by the Marine ministry and "within hours or days" is expected to be approved by the Finance ministry. Euro 2.3m still requires outstanding documentation. He said SAOS submitted invoices for Euro 1.8m of which Euro 373,000 has been approved. For Euro 1.347m documentation was missing.
April 3 Agoudimos met with Kammenos and deputy Harbour Corps chief Admiral Thanassis Bousios and was reportedly informed that if he did not ensure the routes previously allotted to GA were operated, the company would lose them. He was also informed some Euro 970,000 had been made available by the Finance ministry on March 27 and would be released once the necessary documents had been submitted.
Also on April 3 he was informed his tender to operate subsidised routes for the new season was among those rejected by the tenders examining committee. The committee also rejected bids from companies associated with leading ferry operators Gerassimos Strintzis, George Peroyannakis and Manousis, with Peroyannakis also claiming he is owed money for servicing subsidised routes.
-- Filed: 2009-04-06
Key Developments and Growth in Greek Ship-Finance
---By Ted Petropoulos, Petrofin S.A.
1. Main findings
Total loans (drawn and committed), booked both in Greece and worldwide, for end year 2008:
These loans are divided into Drawn Loans: $53.57bn compared to $45.37bn in 2007, i.e. up 18% and committed but Undrawn Loans of $19.65bn compared to $21.56bn in 2007, i.e. down 8.9%.
The increase in drawn loans in 2008 by only 18%, compares to 44.17% last year. The committed loans have fallen compared to 2007 by -8.9% to $19.65. This is significant when taken into account that committed loans this time last year were up by 44.5%
The number of banks involved in Greek shipfinance fell by 1 to 40. There is however, a significant internal reshuffle due to mergers and acquisitions which is covered later in the report.
The top 10 banks held 65% of the market. Last year that percentage was 63.52% and the year before the top 10 banks held 68.14%. The top 10 banks are still very much dominant of the market.
European banks have continued to account for the vast majority of total loans. We hasten to add that Far Eastern shipping loans to Greek clients have not been reported or assessed this year.
The Lead Managers in syndication loans have increased their managed portfolios to $18,977.52m compared to $13.004bn, up by 45.94%.
The number of Lead Managers has remained the same, at 25 banks.
The international banking crisis is not being fully reflected yet, as there is still a marginal growth of 9.39%. However, ship finance has virtually ground to a halt since the fourth quarter of 2008.
The overall picture is that of a snapshot of a peak just before a decline in Greek shipfinance as loan repayments and prepayments exceed new loans.
4. The outlook for 2009 and beyond
- We anticipate that the total loans to Greek shipping shall decline in 2009 for the first time in the last 8 years.
- New loan production is currently at a virtual standstill and being outpaced by the reduction of loan portfolios due to loan repayments.
- It is anticipated that a portion of the committed but undrawn loans shall not become drawn loans on account of order cancellations, abandonment, yard failure, order renegotiations, as well as adjustments of loan facilities (for newbuildings) by ship financing banks.
- It is possible that some large loan portfolios may be securitised and spread widely among other financial institutions, investors and central banks.
- The ability of banks to provide new lending may increase as the year progresses and their financial, liquidity and capital position may improve.
- New loans are and will continue to be provided on far more attractive terms than those of one year ago. Specifically, loan margins have doubled and in certain cases trebled. Arrangement fees have increased. Finance percentages have fallen to approximately 50% and there are numerous additional terms and requirements including financial covenants.
- The improvement of loan yields, lower finance percentages and more stringent terms will be viewed by banks to be both safer and more rewarding. Shipping finance should, therefore, compete effectively in the allocation of scarce lendable bank funds in 2009.
- The attractiveness though of new shipping loans is also being tempered by the overall negative financial and economic climate and prospects, as well as the poor current prospects for shipping.
- Market conditions for new shipfinance entrants are not currently attractive. In addition, capital resources are scarce. As such, it is not anticipated that there will be new entrants for shipfinance in 2009.
- It is possible that on account of the shipping, banking and economic crisis, there shall be some loan failures in 2009, although thus far the industry is performing and the banks are co-operating.
- It is anticipated that the tendency towards syndication loans shall continue as banks are looking to reduced risk exposures.
- Shipfinance conditions for 2009 shall be conducive for committed shipping banks to secure quality loans with targeted clients.
- It is expected that total shipfinance loans shall recover and resume their growth upon the recovery of the world economy, international trade and shipping from 2010 onwards.
Restis, Iraq tie-up
The venture was announced in central Athens earlier today during a joint press conference held by both parties.
The agreement, which is due to be finalised within the next few days, will see the Restis group cover the nation's total dry cargo transport needs for seaborne imports and exports that currently stands at 20 million tonnes per year.
The Restis group controls a fleet of close to 70 bulkers and products tankers and will increase to around 100 by the end of 2010 with newbuilding deliveries.
The current cargo flow is set to increase, the minister says. The Iraqi government is backing private business initiatives that will stimulate its economy.
The venture is part of a larger business co-operation framework between Greece and Iraq taking shape in Athens this week. The Iraqi minister was invited by his Greek counterparty, Panos Kammenos for a series of discussions and meetings both at governmental and private enterprise levels. In the last week, the air-flight route between Iraq and Greece was re-activated after a 19 year pause.
For the Restis group, the joint venture is the second in just a few months with an Arab Nation. In February the group signed a Greco-Arab joint venture with state-owned International Petroleum Investment Co (IPIC) of the United Arab Emirates (UAE) which tanker acquisitions at the top of its agenda.
This venture has been injected with funding worth $1.5bn and has set a wider agenda of building up a vertically integrated shipping presence linked to the energy sector. Investments are also to be made in ports and the logistics segments, among other areas.
By Yiota Gousas in Athens
Published: 11:31 GMT, 10 Apr 2009 | last updated: 18:00 GMT, 10 Apr 2009
Oceanaut shareholders approve dissolution
---Nigel Lowry, Athens - Tuesday 7 April 2009
LAST Rites are being performed on Oceanaut, after shareholders endorsed the winding up of the blank cheque company launched in 2007 by New York Stock Exchange-listed Excel Maritime.
Deals put together for the special purpose acquisition company twice fell victim to the gathering economic and shipping market crisis and Oceanaut management was finally unable to resurrect a viable deal by a March 6 deadline.
Funds are expected to be redistributed on or about April 14, the company stated, with shareholders collecting about $8.26 per share.
At the March 2007 IPO, investors paid $8 each for more than 18m units, each including a warrant entitling the holder to a further share at $6.
Excel will be reimbursed for only 625,000 shares of common stock included in its 1.1m insider units and has said it will therefore forfeit about $6m of its investment in Oceanaut.
Excel itself has been buffeted by at least two of its charterers squeezing pre-agreed time charter rates, but last week the company was boosted by a comprehensive two-year covenant waiver and restructuring deal agreed with its banks.
Highlights from Excel Maritime Carriers' (EXM) Q4 Conference Call
---April 9, 2009 2:05 PM EDT. Last night, Excel Maritime Carriers (NYSE: EXM) reported Q4 EPS of $1.71, ex-items, versus the analyst estimate of $1.04. Revenue for the quarter was $189.2 million, versus the consensus of $123.53 million. Investors are pretty impressed with the Q4 financials and shares are in rally mode...up over 16% today.
Highlights from EXM's Q4 Conference Call:
* (CFO) Moving onto recent developments, we are pleased to report at the end of March we concluded the process that began during the last quarter of 2008 and have reached an agreement with our banks to amend the terms of our two credit facilities. The basic revisions concern the receipt of covenant waivers until January of 2011 and the deferral of an amount equal to $150.5 million from the 2009 and 2010 repayment schedule to the balloon in 2016.
* In addition, to the time charters included in revenue, the net income for the fourth quarter of 2008 was reduced by the non-cash charter hire expense of 9.9 million and the stock-based compensation expense of 1.9 million compared to 42,000 in 2007.
* Revenue from operations in 2008 amounted to 696.1 million as against 177.5 million in 2007, an increase of 292%.
* Net loss for the year 2008 amounted to 44.7 million being lower than the net income earned in 2007 of 84.9 million, mostly due to the exceptional items that took place in the fourth quarter 2008.
* In the fourth quarter of 2008, we operated an average fleet of 47.1 vessels as against the 16.5 vessels we operated during the fourth quarter of 2007.
* Reflecting the weak demand in terms of hire rates market environment that prevailed during the last
quarter of 2008, the respective figures for the years 2008 and 2007 were $31,291 and $28,942 respectively.
* For the full year 2008, the daily, general and administrative expenses per vessel averaged $2,329 as against $2,095 in 2007.
* More interestingly for our market, we've witnessed iron ore imports into China reaching an all-time high monthly level of 46.7 million tons in February. We attribute this development to a catch up effect that we had in demand where the minimal threat for the previous three months resulted in a spike-up in demand for February. Other factors that we believe have supported and will continue to support
our market, besides de-stocking our decreased iron ore prices, this year's prices are rumored to have been fixed 4% lower than last year's levels and an improvement of the ability of market participants to obtain levels of credits.
* (Q&A) My question though relates to the equity infusion that's related to those re-worked agreements. Why did you guys choose to do an equity infusion rather than a public offering, an ATM offering, or some other capital raising tool? : I think that's a good question, Doug. As you know, sea planing, it's many times main landing. The banks -- a lot of banks not only lend to corporate entities, but to individuals that support those entities. So, as a result, in our case, the banks when we went and started the renegotiation and restructuring process asked for a commitment from the major shareholders to infuse equity. And our major shareholders did not disagree. So, that's to begin with. The second thing, as you know, equity does not have the same weight in terms -- of the terms that you can obtain. I mean, yes there was a may be a small chance that we could raise this equity from the market.
Excel Maritime Carriers Ltd. (Excel) is a shipping company specializing in the world-wide seaborne transportation of dry bulk cargoes.
Deal means new pool for LR1 tankers
---A NEW POOL for LR1 tankers will result from a deal involving Seaarland of the Netherlands and Roxana Shipping of Athens.
Seaarland said the pool would operate from its Asian arm, Seaarland Management Services Singapore, which has already started operating with six modern LR1 tankers. The pool manager is Karl Arthur Braein, previously chartering chief in Asia Pacific for ConocoPhillips.
Roxana has four vessels scheduled for delivery before 2010. The pool eventually plans to operate 20 tankers, but the partners hope to attract other long-term owners and operators of LR1 tankers to participate.
Seaarland managing director Antonio Zacchello has expressed belief that consolidation is the way forward despite the global recession. The company operates or manages a fleet of more than 60 vessels. These are mainly chemical and clean tankers, but also includes crude oil tankers and bulk carriers.
Source: Fairplay International Shipping Weekly - Tanker Markets 09 Apr 2009
Hellenic Technical Committee of GL Meets in Athens - New Tanker Design Presented
---The annual Hellenic Technical Committee of Germanischer Lloyd (GL) focused on market trends, new technologies to save fuel, and innovative design approaches. Under the new Chairman of the Hellenic Technical Committee, Mr Dimitrios S. Korkodilos, 45 representatives of the Greek maritime community met to discuss a full spectrum of technical as well as operational topics concerning the maritime industry.
The following new members of the Committee were introduced:
- Mr. Eleftherios Albertis, Technical Manager of POLEMBROS SHIPPING LTD
- Mr. Konstantinos Bletsas, Technical Manager of ALTOMARE SA
- Mr. Demetrios Koukoulas, General Manager of CARDIFF MARINE INC
- Mr. Lymperis Lymperopoulos, Technical Manager of A.M. NOMIKOS TRANSWORLD MARITIME AGENCIES SA
- Mr. Panagiotis Soulis, Project Manager of TSAKOS SHIPPING & TRADING SA
- Mr. Stefanos Tsonakis, Technical Manager of EASTERN MEDITERRANEAN MARITIME LTD
- Mr. Dimitrios Vastarouchas, Technical Manager of DANAOS SHIPPING CO
Optimisation of Oil Tanker Design for Efficiency and Safety
Innovative tanker designs offer ship designers greater flexibility and ship owners new economic opportunities. In a joint presentation, Dr Pierre Sames, Senior Vice President Strategic Research and Development of GL, and Prof Dr Apostolos Papanikolaou, Director Ship Design Laboratory of the National Technical University of Athens (NTUA), gave an overview on a study of a novel holistic tanker design procedure.
The main objective is to develop innovative tanker designs with optimised characteristics regarding cargo transport efficiency and environmental safety issues. The study focuses on optimising only the main cargo area of an Aframax class tanker to identify the best performing designs. A variety of promising Aframax designs which has been developed was presented.
Improving both environmental protection from accidental oil outflow and economical competitiveness are on focus specially. "The resultant Pareto-optimal designs are evaluated in terms of oil outflow consequences, structural weight and cargo capacity, design feasibility, ship maintainability and ballast water capacity", Dr Pierre Sames explained.
"Other design features of optimised designs are the increased double bottom height and reduced size of tanks in the forward ship's part, in direct response to damage statistics", added Prof Apostolos Papanikolaou. "Therefore, both from the economy and safety point of view, the resulting designs appear attractive to the shipping industry."
The research presented started within the EU-funded project SAFEDOR (Design, Operation and Regulation for Safety), and was later extended to include structural design issues through a bilateral project between GL and National Technical University of Athens (2008-2009). The maritime research project SAFEDOR on the significance of risk-based design and approval has been concluded in February this year after four years of intensive study.
Source: April 9 2009, Germanischer Lloyd Group
SALTO access control solution installed on ANEK Lines Ferries
The company provides coastal and inter-island shipping around the Aegean and Adriatic seas. Its modern fleet of 11 vessels provide regular services for passengers, freight and tourists travelling around the myriad ports and harbours of the Greek mainland and islands. Its route network includes services to destinations such as Ancona, Trieste and Venice in Italy and Antikythira, Chania, Chios, Corfu, Igoumenitsa, Ios, Kissamos, Mytiliene, Naxos, Patras, Paros and Santorini in Greece.
"As the only marine-tailored access control system, the XS4 solution was ideal for ANEK Lines Ferries," comments Aznar Sethna, SALTO Systems Area Sales Manager Southern Europe.
"Working in consultation with ANEK we designed a highly secure and flexible access control system tailored to their exact needs that could go to sea with confidence and provide outstanding levels of security, comfort and convenience for all passenger cabin doors and other key doors throughout the ship" Sethna continues.
"As part of this major investment in turning the vessel into an ultra-modern ship equipped with all the latest technology, good security control was going to be a very important area for ANEK Lines Ferries" comments Apostolos Brisimitzakis of SALTO Systems' approved Greek distributor IILIOPOULOS S.A.
The flexible SALTO XS4 access control system can easily grow to meet ongoing security requirements at ANEK Lines Ferries
"There would be no place for mechanical keys or pin code locks. The ship would effectively be a sea-going hotel so the specification called for the latest electronic locking technology available. What was wanted was a flexible, easy to use feature rich security solution both in terms of the hardware fitted to the doors as well the software that would be required to run it".
Aznar Sethna says: "The solution chosen was the XS4 contactless system, which can support up to 64,000 doors and is fire tested and approved for 1 hour (RF60, DIN). This now ensures the highest levels of security; controlling access via contactless Mifare smart cards to over 240 guest cabins with an additional 30 fire doors controlled via staff only issued Mifare key fobs.
The XS4 system needs no hardwiring and provides a wire-free networked electronic locking solution. It uses distributed intelligence to pass information between microprocessors in the electronic handle set and the key cards and fobs and by integrating them with SALTO Virtual Network technology (SVN) both door locks, key cards and fobs can be updated, restricted or deleted remotely and access profiles changed rapidly if required adding real value to the access management of the ship."
With future expansion plans and passenger traffic growing on its route network, the flexible SALTO XS4 access control system can easily grow to meet ongoing security requirements at ANEK Lines Ferries.