Greek Shipping News Cuts
Week 21 - 2009

 

Akti Miaouli / People and Places

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* In a message to shipping on 20 May: European Maritime Day, Marine, Aegean and Island Policy minister, Anastasis Papaligouras reminded the industry of its massive contribution to world trade and the Greek economy, while reminding all that the Greek seafarer is the backbone on which Greek shipping is built. Rodi Kratsa, VP of the European Parliament, and a driving force behind the two-year battle to get the Euro Parliament to designate May 20 as European Maritime Day, attended special events organised by the European Commission and the Italian government in Rome. Italian PM Silvio Berlusconi and the EC president Jose-Manuel Barroso participated.
To mark the establishment of 20 May as the "European Maritime Day", a stamp by the Hellenic Post was circulated depicting the mythological ship Argo and containing a reference to the "European Maritime Day".
* International law firm Holman Fenwick Willan (HFW) has reinforced its ship finance and corporate capabilities in Greece with the transfer of London-based lawyer Jasel Chauhan to the firm's Piraeus office. Chauhan's transfer comes as the firm is gearing up to take advantage of opportunities in the current difficult climate. Historically buoyant, the Greek shipping market is suffering in the same way as others, but HFW sees opportunity in being able to provide enhanced corporate and transactional capability to Greek owners, and in particular to provide advice on jvs, currently a popular alternative to traditional bank finance.
Alexia Kleonakos, head of the ship finance practice in Greece, said: "Strengthening our banking and corporate capability in current market conditions means that we are ready to take advantage of the appetite for transactions which still exists in the local market." Alistair Mackie, head of HFW's international corporate team added: "Banking and finance remain core to our offering in Greece and internationally. Jasel's transfer signals our intention to be at the ready as the finance and corporate market starts to pick-up again."
* From the opening keynote address by Angeliki Frangou, chairman and ceo of US-listed Navios Maritime Holdings, it was apparent speakers and attendees at the Greek Shipping & Ship Finance Conference, May 19 - 20 felt "measured optimism" in the revival of the market. She told the conference, which was packed with bankers and a fair sprinkling of ship operators that a less than mature approach to risk management was prime reason we now are "facing one of the most challenging periods in our history". Indeed, Frangou recounted the story: "When the tide went out, we saw just how many were wearing a bathing suit." She said "there were a lot of naked people." In all some 20 panelists and speakers mixed their views with the audience at the event organised by Lloyd's Shipping Economist at the Ledra Marriott Hotel, Athens.
* Highly experienced banker Dimitris Anagnostopoulos has joined the board and been appointed a member of the audit committee of dry bulkship operator Seanergy Maritime Holdings, the US-listed company controlled by the Restis Group and Koutsolioutsos interests. Anagnostopoulos, who fills the vacant position of Lambros Papakostantinou who resigned in March, has over 40 years experience in ship finance, and for the past two decades was with ABN AMRO holding positions of senior vp and head of shipping.Dale Ploughman, ceo of Seanergy, said: "We strongly believe the experience and knowledge Mr Anagnostopoulos brings Seanergy in both the areas of ship finance and banking will be an integral part of Seanergy's objective to become an industry leader."
* Spyros M Polemis remains chairman of the International Chamber of Shipping (ICS) and president of the International Shipping Federation (ISF) though the ongoing agms (May 20-23) elected Masamichi Morooka (Japan) and Trygve Seglem (Norway) as ICS vcs and Captain Dirk Fry (Cyprus) and Carlos Salinas (Philippines) as ISF vps.EThe UK Chamber of Shipping invited the two organisations to hold their agms in London. The representatives of national shipowners' associations, from the membership of 40 countries, discussed a number of important issues of concern to this major global industry. The meetings coincided with the Centenary of ISF (the principal international maritime employers' organisation for shipowners) which held its first meeting in London, in May 1909.
* Investment, financing, operation and asset management were all issues tackled at The 1st Shipping Investment & Asset Management Forum of the University of Piraeus organised by the University's maritime business alumni in the Port of Piraeus conference centre May 14. The event proved to be a long day 10:00 to 22:00 and as then some opinion leaders and policy makers continually passed through the conference hall and discussed shipping issues officially and unofficially. The Chinese economy was discussed by Capt. Zhang Yu; the western economy was presented by Davide Stroppa, Global Economist, UniCredit Group, while the Greek / shipping economy was discussed by an array of researchers and analysts from Greece and abroad. The state of Greek shipping and shipping finance, occupied session 3, while commercial management and the shipping markets were discussed by chairman and ceos of stock-listed companies as well as the leaders of some of Greece's largest private companies like Enterprises Shipping & Trading S.A., the Tsakos Group and Eletson Holdings.
* Italian classification society RINA's Hellenic Technical Committee met May 12 at the Metropolitan Hotel attended by Roberto Cazzulo, deputy director of Marine Division of RINA; Dino Cervetto, manager of Plan Approval Services; Ravindra Karambelkar, RINA Coating Inspector; Spyridon Zolotas, responsible of RINA Hellas; and Stefano Bertilone, regional manager Greece, East Mediterranean, Middle East and Spain. Led by Nicky Pappadakis, chairman of the RINA Hellenic Advisory Committee, and Akis Tsirigakis and Teo Baltatzis co-chairmen of the RINA Hellenic Technical Committee, the meeting focussed on coating and lay-up issues.
Source: www.newsfront.gr


Posidonia set to return
Source: Fairplay International Shipping Weekly - Newswatch 21 May 2009


Poor navigation led to ship grounding
* Chalpat Sonti, * May 22, 2009
A Greek grain ship that ran aground near Albany did not follow its own navigation procedures, an investigation has found.
No one on the bridge of the Atlantic Eagle monitored its progress as it sailed from Albany in July last year, according to the Australian Transport Safety Bureau [http://www.atsb.gov.au].
The crew failed to take account of prevailing winds, the current or the risk posed by a nearby reef.
A report into the incident found the ship's master made two significant course alterations shortly after the ship sailed and left the second mate in charge, asking him to keep the Atlantic Eagle - which was headed for Fremantle - on a set heading and clear of islands.
However, the second mate did not monitor the ship's progress or establish its position, and about 20 minutes later the Atlantic Eagle ran aground on Maude Reef, seriously damaging its hull, rudder and steering gear before moving clear of the reef.
The investigation found the ship's safety management system procedures for navigation and record keeping were not followed and that no attempt was made by the Atlantic Eagle's managers to correct the latter.
Source: http://www.watoday.com.au/wa-news/poor-navigation-led-to-ship-grounding-20090521-bgzd.html


Sunken Greek cruise ship to be cleared of trapped fuel
---Athens - Two years after the cruise ship Sea Diamond sank off the coast of the holiday island of Santorini, Greek authorities are to begin the operation to pump hundreds of tons of fuel out of the vessel, reports said Monday. Three remote controlled robotic submarines belonging to Dronik Maritime Consultants will carry out the operation, pumping out the approximately 450 tons of fuel contained in the ship.
The 22,000 tonne Sea Diamond, operated by Louis Cruise Lines, hit a reef on April 5, 2007 close to the holiday island and sank early the following day.
The ship's owner, Cyprus-based Louis Hellenic Cruises will pick up the estimated 6-million-euro (8.1 million dollars) bill for the work, estimated to cost 6 million euros, which is expected to last more than three weeks.
More than 1,600 passengers and crew were evacuated safely following the accident, but hours after the government declared the rescue operation a success it was discovered that a 45-year-old Frenchman and his 16-year-old daughter were missing and are assumed dead.
The company claims that human error caused the ship to sink and a Greek prosecutor charged the captain and five other crew with negligence leading to the sinking. All five received suspended sentences and were set free.
The ship sank at a depth of 143 meters with much of its fuel still on board, raising fears of widespread pollution.
The government claims that it tried to contain an oil spill from polluting the turquoise blue waters around Santorini immediately following the sinking, claiming that at least two-thirds of the fuel has already been pumped out.
Louis Cruises had paid for a surface clean-up operation from the island's coastline but refused to raise the ship because of the depth, warning that the wreck could split in two and spill the remaining fuel into the sea.
Source: http://www.earthtimes.org/articles/show/269312,sunken-greek-cruise-ship-to-be-cleared-of-trapped-fuel.html


Slater bemoans 'reckless owners' and 'totally overwhelming' orderbook
---Athens: Asian shipyards can now rebuild the world fleet once every nine years, and this fleet is already 25% larger than is needed, veteran ship financier Paul Slater told conference delegates in Athens yesterday. Speaking at a Lloyd's Shipping Economist ship finance gathering, he described the present orderbook as "totally overwhelming", noting that "contractual cancellations have been minimal". Although deferrals are being widely negotiated in all ship types, he said, this will only spread the deliveries over three or four more years. Around $750bn had been spent by "reckless owners" on new ships in the five years prior to 2008, with $500bn still on order "and due to be delivered into markets that have evaporated or never even existed", he said.
But yard capacity shows no sign of declining and China is already filling deferred spaces with new ships for Chinese owners with cargo contracts to Chinese industrial groups. Warning that this could have an "enormous negative effect on the dry cargo markets and delay any recovery by years", he noted that the moves are in line with China's central government edict in 2005 that set an objective for 75% of all China's imports to be carried in Chinese ships by 2020. It is also a major part of the Chinese Government's $1bn stimulus package for shipyards, announced two months ago.
A disturbing feature of a number of bank rescue packages was that various governments were now requiring new lending to be focused on businesses in their own country, Slater noted. But independent shipping is effectively "stateless" and might well need to consider relocation to obtain finance in future. Meanwhile, the fundamentals of ship finance in future will change significantly, Slater suggested. More equity will be needed, together with strong revenue streams from quality charterers. Long-term charters will really mean "long-term", not the recent US IPO definition of more than 12 months; covenants will be stronger and more rigidly enforces, cash retentions will play a part and dividend restrictions will be enforced. [20/05/09]
Source: http://www.seatradeasia-online.com/News/4150.html


Pistiolis family in new venture
---Evangelos Pistiolis confirms the launch of Central Marine but emphasises it will have no link with Top Ships.
The Pistiolis family of Greece has emerged with a new private shipowning company, Central Marine, which is the buyer of a 55,000-dwt bulker-resale contract.
The company has paid around $27m for the Victoria II , which is under construction at Zhejiang Jiantiao at Zhoushan in China. It is due for delivery next month and was sold directly from the yard.
Evangelos Pistiolis, chief executive of US-listed Top Ships, confirms Central Marine is behind the deal and not the public company as reported last week. He says the transaction has not been concluded as it is on subjects until the end of the month. The purchase is the first for Central Marine. Pistiolis says Central Marine is not connected to Top Ships and TradeWinds understands it will not be used as a private buying vehicle for Top Ships.
The new company was established around eight months ago. Pistiolis says his family has placed all their shipping interests in Top Ships - they hold 13% of the shares - and wanted to create a separate private entity. Pistiolis adds that the company will be looking at acquiring both wet and dry tonnage. Asked if Central Marine was launched to take advantage of current low asset values, Pistiolis says it was set up before the downturn took its toll on ship values.
He says Central Marine's future buying plans depend "on how the market will behave".
Top Ships controls 11 handymax products tankers, four of which were delivered to the company from South Korea's SPP Shipbuilding this year. Top Ships also controls another five modern bulkers, three panamaxes and two supramaxes. The company is also expecting another pair of handymax products tankers from SPP over the next month.
Top Ships has experienced a rollercoaster of share-price fluctuations and is one of the more colourful shipping entries on the Nasdaq. The company caused a stir when it changed auditors and was later threatened by some shareholders with a class act lawsuit.
Late last year, it held out against disgruntled shareholders who reluctantly withdrew a bid to replace the board of directors. In recent weeks, it has led a pack of companies that saw their share price increase by up to 25% and at press time was trading at $1.64 per share.
By Yiota Gousas Athens
Published: 23:00 GMT, 20 May 2009 | last updated: 14:20 GMT, 20 May 2009
Source: http://www.tradewinds.no/weekly/w2009-05-21/article537448.ece


Navios claims advantage despite revenue tumble
---Nigel Lowry, Athens - Thursday 21 May 2009
The New York Stock Exchange listed dry bulk and logistics company saw revenues more than halved to $147m in the three months ended March 31 this year, compared with $338m in the same quarter of 2008.
The decrease was attributed to a 38.8% slump in time charter equivalent rates across the fleet but also a significant cut back in the short term chartered fleet. Short term fleet days were decreased from 3,064 days in the first quarter of 2008 to 897 days in the first quarter of 2009.
The Piraeus-based company underlined that it is cash-rich, reporting a cash balance of $241m at the end of the quarter and net debt to book capitalisation of 43.1%.
Navios has contracted 96.6% of its fleet for 2009, with 75.5% and 54.0% for 2010 and 2011.
The company said average daily charter-out rates for the core fleet are $25,484 and $30,970 daily for the next two years, rising to $35,833 for deals covering 2012, while the average daily charter-in rates it is paying on long term vessels was just $9,988 for this year.
Source: http://www.lloydslist.com/ll/news/navios-claims-advantage-despite-revenue-tumble/20017653740.htm


Hellenic Carriers Limited AGM Results
---Hellenic Carriers Limited, ("Hellenic" or the "Company") (AIM: HCL), an international provider of marine transportation services for dry bulk cargoes, today announces that at their Annual General Meeting held yesterday on 20 May 2009 in Athens all resolutions, mentioned below, were duly passed.
The issued share capital as of 21 May 2009 is 45,616,851 shares of US$0.001 each with voting rights.
Ordinary Resolutions
2. That Charlotte Maria Ypatia Stratos, being eligible for re-election, be re-elected as Director of the Company.
3. That Graham Stanley Roberts, being eligible for re-election, be re-elected as Director of the Company.
4. That Dimos Kapouniaridis, being eligible for re-election, be re-elected as Director of the Company.
5. That Ernst & Young be reappointed as Auditors of the Company (in accordance with Article 33 of the Articles of Association of the Company) to hold office until the conclusion of the next General Meeting and that their remuneration be fixed by the Directors.
6. That the payment of a dividend of GBP 0.023 per ordinary share in the share capital of the Company for the year ended 31 December 2008 be approved.
Special Resolutions
of Association, that was decided by the Board on 22 November 2007, be extended at a percentage to be further determined which however, will not exceed 50% of the share capital in issue until the close of the next Annual General Meeting.
- ENDS -
For further information please contact:
Hellenic Carriers Limited, Fotini Karamanlis, Chief Executive Officer, E-mail: info@hellenic-carriers.com +30 210 455 8900
Source: Press Release 21 May 2009.


OceanFreight Inc. Announces the Termination of the Standby Equity Purchase Agreement Program
---May 21, 2009 - Athens, Greece - OceanFreight Inc., (NASDAQ:OCNF) a global provider of seaborne transportation services today announced that it has agreed with YA Global Master SPV Ltd., an affiliate of Yorkville Advisors LLC, to terminate the Standby Equity Purchase Agreement (SEPA), pursuant to which the Company had the option to issue and sell shares worth up to approximately $147.9 million. As of today, the Company has raised approximately $111.6 million of gross proceeds and the total number of shares outstanding is 90,394,493.
Anthony Kandylidis, Chief Executive Officer of the Company commented:
About OceanFreight Inc.
OceanFreight Inc., is an owner and operator of both drybulk and tanker vessels that operate worldwide. As of the day of this release, OceanFreight owns a fleet of 13 vessels comprising of 9 drybulk vessels (1 Capesize, 8 Panamaxes) and 4 crude carrier tankers (1 Suezmax, 3 Aframaxes) with a combined deadweight tonnage of about 1.2 million tons.
OceanFreight Inc.'s common stock is listed on the NASDAQ Global Market where it trades under the symbol "OCNF".
Visit our website at www.oceanfreightinc.com.
Source: http://www.oceanfreightinc.com/press/ocnf052109.pdf


Paragon Shipping Inc. post 1Q 2009 Earnings Release
---ATHENS, Greece, May 19, 2009 - Paragon Shipping Inc. (Nasdaq: PRGN), a global shipping transportation company specializing in drybulk cargoes, announced today its results for the three months ended March 31, 2009.
For further details, go to > http://www.paragonship.com/Index.cfm?page=irpr&ItemID=88
Source: email announcement, 20 May 2009


Star Bulk Announces Four New Time Charter Agreements and Commences In-House Vessel Management
---Athens, Greece, May 21, 2009 - Star Bulk Carriers Corp. (the "Company" or "Star Bulk") (NasdaqGM: SBLK), a global shipping company focusing on the transportation of dry bulk cargoes announced today that:
Star Theta
The Company entered into a new one-year time charter agreement for the Star Theta, a 52,425 dwt 2003-built Supramax vessel, at a gross daily rate of $11,300. On May 18, 2009 the vessel was delivered to its new charterer, Cargill.
Star Kappa
The Company entered into a new time charter agreement with the existing charterer for the Star Kappa, a 52,055 dwt 2001-built Supramax vessel, for a minimum of 63 months and a maximum of 65 months at a gross daily charterhire rate of $25,500. The new time charter agreement is effective as of April 7, 2009 and replaces the existing charter. The new time charter agreement includes a 40%-60% index-based profit sharing arrangement under which Star Bulk will be paid by the charterers, in addition to the above charterhire, 40% of the difference by which the Baltic Supramax Index (BSI) rate exceeds $30,500, effective as of April 7, 2011.
Star Epsilon
The Company entered into a new time charter agreement with the existing charterer for the Star Epsilon, a 52,402 dwt 2001-built Supramax vessel, for a minimum of 63 months and a maximum of 65 months at a gross daily rate of $25,500. The new time charter agreement is effective as of April 12, 2009 and replaces the existing charter. The new time charter agreement includes a 40%-60% index-based profit sharing arrangement under which Star Bulk will be paid by the charterers, in addition to the above charterhire, 40% of the difference by which the Baltic Supramax Index (BSI) rate exceeds $30,500, effective as of April 12, 2011.
Star Sigma
The Company has agreed in principle to extend the existing charter of the Star Sigma, a 184,400 dwt 1991-built Capesize vessel, by approximately 20 months, to a minimum of 56 months and a maximum of 61 months at a gross daily charterhire rate of $38,000. Once executed, the amended time charter agreement will be effective as of May 1, 2009. The amended charter agreement will include a 50%-50% index-based profit sharing arrangement under which Star Bulk will be paid by the charterers, in addition to the above charterhire, 50% of the difference by which the Baltic Capesize Index (BCI) rate exceeds $49,000 effective as of March 1, 2012.
In-House Vessel Management
On March 14, 2009 StarBulk SA, a wholly owned subsidiary of the Company assumed the technical management the first vessel of Star Bulk's fleet. To date the technical management of four vessels, the Star Alpha, the Star Beta, the Star Ypsilon and the Star Kappa has been undertaken by StarBulk SA from Bernhardt Schulte Shipmanagement Ltd. The Company's wholly owned subsidiary, Star Bulk Management Inc. performs the commercial management of all of the Company's vessels.
Akis Tsirigakis, CEO of Star Bulk commented:
"We are pleased to have secured further period employment for our fleet, enhancing our revenue visibility with total contracted revenue in excess of $425 million as of May 1, 2009. Significantly, we have introduced profit sharing structures in three of our new time charter agreements in order to benefit from future rate increases once these agreements come into effect. Our contracted operating days are now 100% for 2009, 71% for 2010 and 42% for 2011 and we continue to generate significant positive cash flows. We are confident that the commencement of in-house technical management will be instrumental in reducing management fees, optimizing our cost structure and in the implementation of our quality objectives regarding the operation of our fleet. We are also pleased to have completed successfully a protracted period of aligning the company's financial, commercial and operational matters with the new market environment enhancing our competitive elements and our capability to take advantage of market opportunities that are certain to appear."
About Star Bulk
Star Bulk is a global shipping company providing worldwide seaborne transportation solutions in the dry bulk sector. Star Bulk's vessels transport major bulks, which include iron ore, coal and grain and minor bulks such as bauxite, fertilizers and steel products. Star Bulk was incorporated in the Marshall Islands on December 13, 2006 and is headquartered in Athens, Greece. Its common stock and warrants trade on the Nasdaq Global Market under the symbols "SBLK" and "SBLKW," respectively. Currently, Star Bulk has an operating fleet of twelve dry bulk carriers. The total fleet consists of four Capesize, and eight Supramax dry bulk vessels with an average age of approximately 9.9 years and a combined cargo carrying capacity of 1,106,250 deadweight tons.
Source: http://www.starbulk.com/052109.html


Seanergy Maritime Holdings Corp. Announces Board Appointment
---ATHENS, GREECE--(Marketwire - May 20, 2009) - Seanergy Maritime Holdings Corp. (the "Company") (NASDAQ: SHIP) (NASDAQ: SHIP.W) announced today that Dimitris Anagnostopoulos has been appointed as member of the Board of Directors and Audit Committee. Mr. Anagnostopoulos fills the vacant position of Mr. Lambros Papakostantinou following his resignation in March 2009.
Mr. Anagnostopoulos has over forty years of experience in ship finance. His career began in the 1970s at Athens University of Economics followed by four years with the Onassis Group in Monte Carlo. Mr. Anagnostopoulos also held various posts at Continental Illinois National Bank of Chicago, Greyhound Corporation, and with ABN AMRO, where he has spent nearly two decades with the company, holding positions of senior vice-president and head of shipping. Mr. Anagnostopoulos has been a speaker and panelist in various shipping conferences in Europe, and a regular guest lecturer at the City University Cass Business School in London and the Erasmus University in Rotterdam. He was recently named by the Lloyd's Organization as Shipping Financier of the Year for 2008.
Dale Ploughman, the Company's Chief Executive Officer, stated: "We would like to welcome Mr. Anagnostopoulos as a member of the Board of Directors of Seanergy. We strongly believe that the experience and knowledge Mr. Anagnostopoulos brings to Seanergy in both the areas of ship finance and banking will be an integral part of Seanergy's objective to become an industry leader."
About Seanergy Maritime Holdings Corp.
Seanergy Maritime Holdings Corp., the successor to Seanergy Maritime Corp., is a Marshall Islands corporation with its executive offices in Athens, Greece. The Company is engaged in the transportation of dry bulk cargoes through the ownership and operation of dry bulk carriers. The Company purchased and took delivery of six dry bulk carriers in the third and fourth quarters of 2008 from companies associated with members of the Restis family. Its current fleet is comprised of two Panamax, two Supramax and two Handysize dry bulk carriers with a combined cargo-carrying capacity of 316,676 dwt and an average fleet age of approximately 11 years.
The Company's common stock and warrants trade on the NASDAQ Global Market under the symbols SHIP and SHIP.W, respectively. Prior to October 15, 2008, the Company's common stock and warrants traded on the NYSE Alternext US LLC (formally known as AMEX) under the symbols SRG, SRG.W, respectively.
For further information please visit our website at www.seanergymaritime.com
Source: http://seanergymaritime.com