Greek Shipping News Cuts
Week 41 - 2009


Mobilisation of market forces

---Economy, Competitiveness and Shipping Minister Louka Katseli on Thursday asked for the "mobilisation of all market forces" after her first visit to the former development ministry on Kanniggos Square.
She promised to quickly overcome the confusion of the first days and set the ministry in order, announcing that the first of two draft bills falling in the ministry's portfolio will be tabled in the next few days and was among five that the prime minister wanted passed as a top priority.
The bill concerns measures to simplify procedures for starting and operating a new business. Katseli said that her own team had already done preparatory work for this and that it would not take long before it was ready to be tabled in Parliament. Also to be pushed through rapidly is a second draft bill that is in the wings, with measures for supporting small and medium-sized businesses, street market traders and peddlers, a stimulus package for markets and increasing liquidity.
The minister said that the crisis would be handled by a re-ordering of the economy based on three priority directions: the proper function of the market and a stimulus of the market, combined with consumer protection and emphasis on supervision.
Katseli had meetings with the ministry's senior personnel and said that she had asked the ministry general secretaries to remain at their posts until their replacement by new executives that will be selected through an open proclamation and competition conducted over the Internet.
She also asked ministry heads of department to prepare a letter by Monday, in which they briefed her on the areas they handled and their proposals for these, so that she can begin a round of meetings with them next week to decide on action to solve market problems.
Katseli emphasised the need to use all developmental tools, including Community support programmes, developmental law and state procurements, in a bid to boost competitiveness. She particularly stressed the importance of shipping for the Greek economy.

CV of new Greek Minister of Economics, Competitiveness and Shipping, Louka Katseli
--- Curriculum Vitae of new Greek Minister of Economy, Competitiveness & Shipping Mrs. Louka T. Katseli. Born in Athens April 20, 1952. Member of Greek Parliament for PASOK political party, since 2007. Married with former minister of economy Mr. Gerasimos Arsenis.
Mrs. Louka T. Katseli, Professor of Economics, was Director of the OECD Development Centre from 2003 to 2007. Prior to joining the OECD, Prof. Katseli has held several academic and non-academic positions in Greek and international organisations. She has been chair of the Department of Economics of the University of Athens (1997-2001), special economic adviser to the Prime Minister of Greece (1993-96), special advisor to the Minister of Education (1996-97), Director General of the Athens based Centre of Planning and Economic Research (1982-86), Assistant and then Associate Professor of Economics at Yale University (1977-1985). In 1996, she was appointed by the United Nations Secretary-General as Member of the Committee for Development Policy, where she served as Acting Member, Rapporteur and Vice-Chair until 1999. In 2000-02 she was the Greek Representative to the UN Financing for Development Conference and Preparatory Committee Conferences.
A fellow to several international research institutes, including the Centre for Economic Policy Research (CEPR), Louka Katseli holds a BA in Economics from Smith College (1972), a Master in Public Administration from the Woodrow Wilson School at Princeton University (1974), an MA in Economics (1975) and a Ph. D. in Economics (1978) from Princeton University.
Prof. Katseli has widely published in international and Greek per-reviewed journals. Her fields of specialisation include international trade and finance, economic development and macroeconomics. Most recently she has focused her research activities on the economics of legal and illegal labour migration, economic reforms, public policy effectiveness and institution-building in developing countries, political economy of the European integration and exchange-rate policy in emerging markets.
Source: 07/10/09-00:15

Greek shipping ministry to be abolished
---Wednesday, 07 October 2009. The new Greek government has laid out plans to reform the country's civil service, including abolishing the shipping ministry and splitting its functions. The old ministry's trade and commercial activities will now fall under the new Ministry of Economy, Competitiveness and Shipping, while ports, security and the Greek coastguard service will forms a new department within the Ministry of the Interior. New Prime Ministry George Papandreou is thought to be keen on what he sees as rationalisation and reform of the industry as he seeks to slash Greece's deficit and debt.

Greek tragedy?
The shipping stalwart does, however, also see the move as an opportunity for shipowners to revisit their agendas with the new regime.
Capt Tsakos is not exactly saluting the government's decision.
George Papandreou, leader of the Panhellenic Socialist Movement (Pasok) which swept to victory in the polls on Sunday, announced this week that the Ministry of Merchant Marine would lose its status as an independent ministry. Instead it now forms part of the newly-created Ministry of Economy, Competitiveness and Shipping but no longer has any connection with the Hellenic Coast Guard.
He continued, however, that so long as the new ministry does not change its administrative role for the shipping community, the change is a good opportunity for the public servants in the ministry to clean up their act.
Now is the time for shipowners to reiterate their agendas to the new Pasok government, he stressed.
Tsakos would appear more receptive to the change than the UK-based Greek Shipping Co-operation Committee (GSCC) which used a statement on Thursday to lambaste the change.
The body, operating out of the Baltic Exchange in London, is particularly incensed about the decision to annex the Hellenic Coast Guard from the old stand-alone ministry. The Coast Guard is now under the Ministry for the Protection of the Citizen.
By Eoin O'Cinneide in London
By Yiota Gousas in Athens
Published: 14:02 GMT, 09 Oct 2009 | last updated: 14:09 GMT, 09 Oct 2009

Marine Money's Full House in Athens
Despite the tough market and the general lack of ship finance, Marine Money's Greek Ship Finance Forum again filled the seats in Athens. With 310 delegates and speakers and some 40 more for the TEN Ltd lunch there was plenty gossip and exchange of views at the 11th Annual conference held on the 8th of October 2009.
Christos Tsirikos of PriceWaterhouseCoopers SA talked about distressed assets. Not cheap ships however, but rather discounted bank debt. This he believes may be the opportunity that shipping funds may be able to take advantage of. A suggestion was that a new player taking discounted debt from an existing lender can in this way create a long term relationship with shipowners and, why not, even share in the upside by converting the discounted debt amount into equity.
Regarding the orderbook Evangelos Marinakis of Capital Product Partners LP strongly stated that this is the biggest problem facing the shipping industry and added that shipyards have to face reality and be more willing to accommodate requests for cancellation and delay. When asked whether there is a collective voice from the shipping industry when confronting the yards Mr. Marinakis said that unfortunately this is not the case and each shipowner negotiates on his own. Even the Greeks do not group together, he said, when on occasions 50% of the orders to individual yards are from Greek owners. Mr. Pistiolis agreed that yards must be reasonable and that their inflexibility is causing additional pain for the shipping industry which will boomerang on the yards in due course.
After presentations by Carl Siddle of Deloitte LLP and Mark Friedman of Evercore Partners Inc the day closed with a panel discussion entitled Short term pain: Long term gain. Moderated by Rob Lustrin of Seward & Kissel the discussion looked beyond the next two years and where might we be then. Dale Ploughman of Seanergy Maritime Holdings Corp believes that with 40% cancellation and the expected growth in demand, in a few years we should again see some equilibrium in shipping. The key is to protect against the next two years with strong charters. Wiley Griffiths of Morgan Stanley reckons there will start to be differentiation between public companies and increasing transparency and a strong balance sheet will be essential. The other panelists agreed that on a longer term shipping should correct but quality, transparency and financial strength are key to survival.
The day ended with a cocktail reception hosted by International Registries, Inc.. We were pleased that once more we filled the room and had lively debate and discussion within and outwith the conference room.
Source: I

Newbuild clashes loom as owners call for flexibility
---Nigel Lowry - Thursday 8 October 2009. TENSIONS between shipowners and shipbuilders are likely to mount in the months ahead as the shipping industry becomes ever more desperate to wipe as many unwanted newbuildings as possible off the orderbook.
In the analogy, shipbuilders were the intransigent object while Mr Dunne dubbed the pressure on banks to bring down their funding of shipping as a force that would be hard to halt.
At the same time, further equity contributions of $30bn to $35bn per year were needed, he said.

Time to cooperate as there will be more pain before gain
---Though the entrepreneurial spirit in shipping is not open to close cooperation, shipowner Evangelos Marinakis says now is the time for shipowners to work together to beat the present crisis. This is especially so as many players involved in the shipfinance and shipowning sectors believe shipping is set for more pain before gain.
"It is difficult for the shipping market to work together, especially in Greece, but if the crisis manages to influence owners to get together, this would be a good thing," Marinakis told the Marine Money Greek Ship Finance Forum in Athens, October 8. However, "I am not very optimistic this will happen" said the chairman of Nasdaq-listed, Capital Product Partners.
One area in which there could be co-operation is working to bring a balance to the market. "Owners must take take the lead and force old single-hull tankers out of the marketplace." Marinakis said these tankers are becoming a problem and scrapping them, plus the cancellation of newbuildings, "will have an important impact on the market". However, he said there is also "an opportunity to replace old ships with new quality vessels".
Speakers at the forum, whether bankers, financial analysts or ship operators, were of one opinion: shipping is still a stormy passage to navigate.
Marinakis said newbuilding cancellations must happen and it is "important that shipyards be open in negotiations". He said equity will not be available and shipyards have to become more flexible and be prepared to re-organise their production, discuss delivery delays and cancellations.
Evangelos Pistiolis, ceo US-listed Top Ships, agrees and he believes that in fact "all yards today are bankrupt". "Shipyards have only one option and that is to support the owners and they have to realise this," said Pistiolis.
Elefterios Papatrifon, cfo of Excel Maritime Carriers, said his company is lucky as it only has a small newbuilding exposure, "a 50% stake in three ships, so just one-and-a-half ships". But he said "something has to be done" and that cancellations is the choice "for delays in delivery only result in the ships coming into the market later".
Pistiolis believes the dry side of shipping could face "two to three more bad years unless cancellations increase". However, he says that opportunities will appear in 2010, and ships "will be available at a discount". Papatrifon is more optimistic and expects a higher demand in 2010 which "should help balance the growing supply".
While an oversupply of ships looms, quite the opposite looms with regard to finding equity for projects, existing and new.
"Cashflow will not help the shipowner in the years to come and they will need the capital market and margins will be tight," said Ulf B Andersson, head of shipping, Nordea Bank Finland, London branch. He said Greek owners have done well so far and believes "some will be able to take advantage of opportunities in the next few years". "Only the strong ones will be able to do this as only the good companies will be able to find credit for projects, including newbuildings," he said.
Christos Megalou, of Credit Suisse Securities (Europe), said the IPO market in the US is active as is the equity market, but while there have been some 32 IPOs this year, "only a few have been done in shipping". "We have to wait for the real activity and must be prepared when there is a window as it will not last forever". He said there could be some deals next year, but that small companies will have to wait a little longer. "When banks sort out their own balance sheets, they will be back in the market," said Megalou.
Watson Farley & Williams chairman, Frank Dunne, noted banks are aggressively trying to reduce their exposure and are cancelling newbuilding projects. On the other hand, "foreclosures have been relatively few". He also said that "Greek owners were smart in the good times and brought their banks heavily into a deal" and thus "banks now have limited alternatives".
Dunne said Korean yards remain inflexible towards delays of newbuildings, but "in six to nine months we will see the Koreans having to tackle the problem".
-- Filed: 2009-10-08

FreeSeas Announces Charter Agreements on Six of Its Handysize Vessels
---PIRAEUS, Greece, Oct. 7, 2009 (GLOBE NEWSWIRE) -- FreeSeas Inc. (Nasdaq:FREE) (Nasdaq:FREEW) (Nasdaq:FREEZ) ("FreeSeas" or the "Company"), a transporter of dry-bulk cargoes through the ownership and operation of a fleet of eight Handysize vessels and two Handymax vessels, announced today new charters for six of its vessels, including the recently purchased Free Neptune, as well as the Free Envoy, Free Hero, Free Maverick, Free Knight, and Free Impala. These new charters are detailed below:
* The M/V Free Neptune, a 1996-built, 30,838 dwt Handysize vessel, has been delivered to her charterers for a spot time charter of 30-35 days at a daily rate of $20,000.
* The M/V Free Envoy, a 1984-built, 26,318 dwt Handysize vessel, has been delivered to her charterers for a spot time charter trip of 30-35 days at a daily rate of $8,000.
* The M/V Free Hero, a 1995-built, 24,318 dwt Handysize vessel, has been delivered to her charterers for a spot time charter trip of approximately 40-50 days at a daily rate of $13,500.
* The M/V Free Maverick, a 1998-built, 23,994 dwt Handysize vessel, has been delivered to her charterers for a spot time charter of between 60-65 days at a daily rate of $9,000 or $11,000 depending on repositioning.
* The M/V Free Knight, a 1998-built, 24,111 dwt Handysize vessel, has been delivered to her charterers for a spot time charter of 60-65 days at a daily rate of $7,000.
* The M/V Free Impala, a 1997-built, 24,111 dwt Handysize vessel, has been chartered for a spot time charter trip of 60 days at a daily rate of $10,000.
Mr. Ion Varouxakis, Chief Executive Officer of FreeSeas, stated, "We are very pleased to have witnessed continued daily rate increases for our Handysize vessels in the spot market."

Safe Bulkers Announces that its Manager Receives 2009 Cyprus Shipping Industry Award
The award was bestowed on September 27, 2009 during the Maritime Cyprus 2009 Conference held in Limassol, Cyprus.
The Cyprus Maritime Awards are given by the Cyprus Department of Merchant Shipping to recognize services that have contributed to the development, improvement, advancement and promotion of the Cyprus merchant shipping industry. The Cyprus Shipping Industry Award is bestowed on companies which have shown continuous and outstanding contribution in the qualitative improvement of the Cyprus merchant fleet, establishing Cyprus as a shipping centre, the development of the Cyprus economy and the training and employment of Cypriot seafarers.
Source: press release

Transport ministry to investigate ship collision in Aegean Sea
---KYIV, October 6. /UKRINFORM/. The Transport and Communications Ministry of Ukraine will take part in investigation of the collision of ships in the Aegean Sea. One of those vessels had a Ukrainian crew, the ministry's press service quoted First Deputy Transport and Communications Minister Vasyl Shevchenko as saying.
Dry cargo ship Santana flying Maltese colors, with a crew of 20 Ukrainian citizens, collided with Greece-flagged Captain Mihalis off the Greek island Amortos in the Aegean Sea on October 4, 2009. As a result, the Greek vessel sank immediately, and one of its crewmembers perished. The vessel with the Ukrainian crew was directed towards the port of Siros (Greece), accompanied by coast guards. Under the latest reports, there are no casualties among the Ukrainians.