Greek Shipping News Cuts
Week 45 - 2009
---6 November 2009. In her eagerly awaited first public address to the maritime industry, Greece's new Minister of Economy, Competitiveness and Shipping, Louka Katseli, defended the incoming socialist's government's controversial decision to abolish the Merchant Marine ministry as a standalone entity and merge it into a new 'super-ministry'.
Ms. Katseli was delivering the keynote speech at the World Tanker Forum of the Greek Shipping Summit 2009, which took place at the Athens Ledra Marriott hotel on November 3. Co-organised by Seatrade and TradeWinds, the event drew more than 140 participants from 14 countries.
"It is the first time in the post-war history of our country, that almost all policy tools pertaining to trade and investment promotion, infrastructure development and shipping are gathered under the same institutional umbrella," said the minister. "Such concentration of competencies under one roof permits the creation of synergies and the profitable exploitation of interdependencies to promote competitiveness and enhance opportunities for profitable investment."
The move would also allow Greece to "improve and enhance the competitiveness of our ports, to expand our railway services, to build modern logistics centres around our ports, to improve business services and protect the environment," she added. Ms. Katseli also stressed that her government did not plan to tax shipping companies registered abroad that have offices in Greece.
Responding to media questions beforehand, the minister also called on the shipping community to support the onshore economy and infrastructure through greater land-based investments, reported Greek weekly shipping publication Newsfront.
The rest of the day's proceedings heard detailed accounts of the current market for tanker vessels, and of commercial strategies adopted by leading Greek shipping companies to combat the downturn.
The day closed with an inaugural 'Shipping Question Time' session based on the popular BBC television show, co-hosted by editors of Seatrade magazine and TradeWinds. One of the questions concerned the creation of the new 'super-ministry', to which panelist Philip Embiricos - Immediate Past President of the world's largest international shipping association, BIMCO - issued the rejoinder that it meant the Hellenic Coast Guard now had to report to three different ministries, thereby hampering its effectiveness in promoting the safety and technical excellence of Greek shipping.
Notes to the editor
> This was the 4th Greek Shipping Summit jointly organised by Seatrade and TradeWinds and designed to unite the Greek and international shipowners with the charterers, financiers, lawyers, regulators, port authorities, shipbuilders and other representatives from major world maritime centres.
> This year's event was the World Tanker Forum and provided a platform for debate, interaction and networking with more than 140 representatives from 14 different countries.
> A full transcript of the Minister's speech is available on request
For more details visit www.greekshippingsummit.com or please contact John Foreman, Head of Marketing at firstname.lastname@example.org or Jon Chaplin, Director, TradeWinds at email@example.com
Source: Press Release, Seatrade <firstname.lastname@example.org>
Greek Shipping Taxes Policy Will Continue
The minister also announced she plans to launch a study to review why the numbers of young Greeks entering the industry is falling and how to reverse this trend.
This is part of an ongoing dispute that has raged for several months which has repeatedly disrupted traffic at the port and caused consternation amongst Greek shipping circles.
Katseli added that she intends to commission a study on the industry with a view to reversing the trend.
Shipping companies headquartered in Greece that have foreign registrations have until now been exempt from income tax on their revenue.
Greece has been resting on its laurels for decades, but the signs are that the complacent days of relying on uncles, brothers and cousins to bring business to the register have gone. Young, overseas-educated Greek owners now have a dozen registers from which to choose, and they are finding the Greek flag ever less attractive.
Greece is slack in marketing its register largely because it has not needed to market it until now. It declines invitations to discuss issues with the press, the staff do not appear to want to sell its services, and the traditional patriotic appeal is wearing thin.
Greece has been a leader in all things maritime over the years, and the economy has benefited. Pretending to have a shipbuilding industry no longer works; claiming that Piraeus can be a world player in the container hub stakes rings hollow. Greece needs a strong, proactive and forward-looking register that not only appeals to the home market, but can promote its quality worldwide.
Louka Katseli should take note.
Source: Fairplay International Shipping Weekly - Lookout 05 Nov 2009
Shipowner cash to bail out Greece?
---Could the mountain of cash salted away by Greek shipowners in foreign banks during the boom years provide a key prop to the country's creaking finances? And even perhaps help secure more shipping loans?
That is certainly the idea from well-known Greek shipping-finance analyst Ted Petropoulos.
He believes some of the estimated $60bn to $70bn cash held by owners before the current financial crisis could now be used to help the Greek economy through the issue of a new series of government bonds.
Petropoulos thinks patriotic Greek owners may be willing to buy government bonds to ease the nation's current borrowing crisis.
If yields on the new bonds were sufficient and protection from tax adequate, owners who traditionally hold much of their cash offshore could be persuaded to repatriate some in the national interest.
"The shipping industry is part of Greece," said Petropoulos, managing director of Petrofin. "It may be a free international industry, which is why it has blossomed, but in the heart of every Greek lies the wish to support his state." An initial $500m, five to eight-year bond issue targeted at Greeks with cash liquidity overseas - especially shipowners - if successful, could generate follow-on issues and help ease the Greek central bank's debts.
Speaking on the fringes of the Greek Shipping Summit in Athens this week, he said: "There is an awful lot of Greek liquidity; providing it is properly assured, there is a lot of money available." Before the crisis, Petrofin estimated Greek owners had around $60bn to $70bn in cash, so even accounting for losses over the past 18 months, there may be plenty of money looking for a good return on a safe investment, argues Petropoulos.
He says the bonds could further be used to offer support to Greek banks, which would enable them to get additional liquidity and thereby offer more loans, some of which may be to the shipping sector itself.
"The idea is that if you have to borrow as Greece has to do, who owns your paper? And to whom are you indebted? "I think it is better to have Greeks owning that paper. The question is do Greeks have the capacity to absorb part or all of this paper? And the answer is yes." He admits the idea would need detailed development to test whether it is viable.
"All in all I believe these are times where everyone should hold everybody's hand and support each other. We are all facing a crisis and the way to solve a crisis is by working together and not by working apart." Greece's new government may have no choice but to study such a plan.
"I see this government has some fresh ideas. If they are smart - and I am sure they are - they will latch on to anything that helps them achieve what they are looking for."
By Julian Bray Athens
Published: 00:00 GMT, 06 Nov 2009 | last updated: 09:28 GMT, 06 Nov 2009
ThyssenKrupp to seek investors for Greek shipyards
---Harry Papachristou and Tom Kaeckenhoff - 05.11.2009
Greece and German steelmaker ThyssenKrupp have agreed to seek outside investors to take over the company's indebted Greek unit, Hellenic Shipyards, a government official said.
ThyssenKrupp will draw up a shortlist of bidders to be examined by a government-selected advisor, Greek Defense Minister Evangelos Venizelos said in a statement after a meeting with the company's marine systems chief, Hans Christoph Atzpodien. He gave no timeframe.
ThyssenKrupp, which plans to cut up to 20,000 jobs worldwide to reduce costs, wants to shed the shipyards unit, which is dependent on orders from the Greek Navy and has hundreds of millions of euros in debt and European Union regulator fines.
Hellenic was threatened by closure in September, when ThyssenKrupp canceled a lifeline order to build and overhaul four submarines, claiming that the Greek government owed it 520 million euros under the contract.
Greece's new socialist government, which won an Oct.4 snap election, has pledged to keep the shipyard operating and to protect its approximately 1,300 jobs.
A ThyssenKrupp official who declined to be named told Reuters on Nov.4 that there were many potential bidders for Hellenic (www.hellenic-shipyards.gr).
Greece's Neorion Shipyards and Veldin, a little-known Greek portfolio company run by a former Hellenic manager, have already expressed their interest in taking over the shipyards, the largest in the eastern Mediterranean.
Source: Reuters, Balkans.com Business News
Banks expect one in 10 shipping loans to go bad within next year
---Ship finance sector is preparing for the worst
By Nigel Lowry - Thursday 5 November 2009
The majority chose between another one and two years as the most likely time horizon for the crisis, with very few seeing it stretching beyond three years.
The views emerged from a Petrofin questionnaire to 27 top shipping bankers, which represented banks with a portfolio of $287bn or about 70% of all ship finance.
Less than 4% of bankers expected ship finance activity to recommence within the next half-year. Most felt it would take six to 12 months or one to two years for ship lending to take off again.
Nearly 60% said they expected the global bluewater shipfinance portfolio, estimated at $410bn, to reduce by up to 10% in 2010, with another 11% predicting an even sharper drop.
Mr Petropoulos said that in so far as this implied a drop in financing of newbuildings it could be positive for the industry.
At the same time, when asked about their expectations for activity by their own institution, one quarter expected their portfolios to increase by more than 10% in the next 12 months. Others were divided almost equally between those predicting a smaller increase, or a modest decrease, or expecting to remain stable.
Two-thirds of respondents, however, thought the number of banks staying in shipping would be cut by 10%-20% in the near future.
Since they were more conservative about world economic growth in 2010-2011, with 70% expecting 1%-2% growth globally, Mr Petropoulos interpreted this to mean many bankers sensed reports of recovery in the US and Europe may be premature.
International companies turn to Varna because of Piraeus Port strike
Everyday around 2,000 container-shipping vessels arrive at Piraeus port plus the 4,000 blocked in there since the start of the strike. Over 60,000 ships carrying containers will moor in the port by Christmas. Due to the continuing strike hampering loading and unloading operations an increasing number of companies are redirecting their ships to other ports.
Source: 6 November 2009 | 14:40 | FOCUS News Agency
Workers choice Emmanouil keen to return to Hellenic Shipyards
---Sotiris Emmanouil, a former board chairman and md of Hellenic Shipyards, has signed an MoU to purchase Greece' largest shipyard. The MoU was signed October 30 between Verdil, the company headed up by Emmanouil, and the Greek yard's German owners, ThyssenKrupp Marine Systems, which has threatened to quit the Skaramanga facility.
According to the MoU, the shipyard undertakes all the technical obligations of a disputed submarine contract for the Greek Navy. It is understood Verdil will borrow Euro 200m, of which Euro 180m is said to be required to complete the submarine contract. Hellenic employs 1,200 people full time and has a large pool of sub-contractors.
Economy, Competitiveness and Shipping minister, Louka Katseli, after meeting with the yard's unions, said: "The Greek state's consent for a transfer of shares from ThyssenKrupp to a new investment scheme will be given only if the new scheme's financial solvency is assured." She said this "will be a guarantee for the long-term viability of the venture".
News of the agreement between the Emmanouil-led Verdil emerged after it had earlier been reported Athens Stock Exchange-listed Neorion Holdings was in talks regarding the possible acquisition of its rival. Neorion, owns Greece's second and third largest yards, Elefsis and Syros shipyards.
It is reported Verdil will also take on demands by the Germans for Euro 520m which the seller says is owned by Greek state, on four submarines being built for the Greek Navy, which the navy is yet to take delivery. Some Euro 320m will be deducted from the outstanding as the seller will keep the first submarine built as a prototype in Kiel, Germany.
Emmanouil is well known in shipyard circles in the US and Europe, especially at Hellenic having served as the yard's md and board chairman during the period 1999 to 2003. He led a group which unsuccessfully bid for Hellenic before it was eventually sold to Germany's HDW/Ferrosteel group in 2002, and subsequently sold on to the present owners, TMS. Emmanouil's then management team linked up with Hellenic's workforce, owner of 49% of the Skaramanga yard. The remainder was owned by Greece's largest state-owned investment bank.
Within days of the sale being signed May 31, 2002, Emmanouil declared: "A circle has been completed and a new period is opening for the company and for the workforce. We are members of a big family. Our position is reinforced in the international marketplace and we have advantages which will make us competitive internationally." Though it did not quite work out like that, Emmanouil has chosen to come back.
Emmanouil said he wishes to "save Hellenic Shipyards" because he believes "it is a vital element in re-enforcing Greece's defence ability through the execution of the Greek navy's renewal and upgrading programme" and that the Greek yard "can become a dynamic part of the nation's industry" and a "pillar of the developing effort the government is making".
-- Filed: 2009-11-02
Ulysses claims success in cutting costs
---(Nov 6 2009). Thus far this year, Ulysses Systems has added tanker and gas specialists Ceres LNG Management, Minerva Maritime and Omega Management among others to its customer base.
This expansion of its client database has coincided with a hike in crew wages of around 24%, nearly double that of the year before, the company said.
Presuming that around four senior officers on board and one ashore work with the system exchanging about 25 transactions per day, it is more than likely that 25 transactions executed efficiently will save a lot more than 11 minutes shared among five senior roles, Ulysses calculated.
Good decisions are associated with early action, good people management, risk awareness, problem-solving etc, and depend on retrieving useful information gleaned from past experiences, corporate know-how, a massive amount of machinery information, co-ordination on board and ashore around fine details, all of which calls for the support of well designed software.
Ulysses claimed that for 12 years, the company has been focusing on providing the right information to the right user at the right time. Complexity is avoided through careful fundamental design while the functionality provided is vast.
Lloyd's List Greek Shipping Awards 2009 - 4 December 2009
---The 6th Annual Lloyd's List Greek Shipping Awards & Gala Dinner will take place on Friday December 4, 2009 at the Athenaeum InterContinental, Athens.
Hundreds of key personalities are expected to attend this year's annual presentation dinner that pays tribute to the world's largest shipowning community, their service partners and some of the industry's outstanding achievements during the preceding year.
Based on the selections of a distinguished panel of industry judges, the Greek Shipping Awards offer the chance to highlight some of the year's top performers and finest moments.
Book your table early for the Gala Awards Dinner to ensure you don't miss Greek shipping's 'Dinner of the Year'! We look forward to seeing you for the excitement of the Award presentations on December 4th.
The 2009 judging panel, in alphabetical order:
Dinos Caroussis - Vice-chairman of the Greek Shipping Co-operation Committee, chairman of the UK P&I Club
George Gratsos - President of the Hellenic Chamber of Shipping
Captain John Halas - General Secretary of the Panhellenic Seamens Federation
Nigel Lowry - Athens correspondent of Lloyds List
John Pachoulis - President of the Hellenic Shipbrokers Association
Prof Apostolos Papanikolaou - Director of the Ship Design Laboratory, National Technical University of Athens
Nicky Pappadakis - Chairman of Intercargo
Charlotte Stratos - Senior adviser, Morgan Stanley, Investment Banking Division
Gregory Timagenis - Chairman of NAT, the Seamens Pension Fund
Alex Tourkolias - President of the Association of Banking & Shipping Finance Executives of Hellenic Shipping
GALA DINNER BOOKINGS
Tables of 10 places
For priority dinner reservations:Please complete the table booking form and fax to Fax +22.214.171.124.196