Greek Shipping News Cuts
Week 47 - 2009


Bulker confidence rises for 2010

--- Greek owners positive on rates as congestion, newbuilding delays and rising demand kick in
Liz McCarthy - Friday 20 November 2009
LISTED Greek dry bulk owners this week forecast a healthy charter market in 2010 following a surprise surge in freight rates over the last month.
Navios Maritime Holdings, Euroseas and Freeseas reported positive outlooks, based on increasing congestion, newbuilding delivery delays and rising commodity demand.
Demand from China for raw commodities, especially iron ore, had resulted in increased imports this year and showed little sign of slowing down, according to Euroseas.
Freeseas, which operates smaller, handysize bulk carriers, was also confident the dry bulk rally this month was sustainable as it had been supported by rises for all vessel sizes, not just capesizes.
Mr Varoukaxis said the improvements in the dry bulk sector were set to continue.
Congestion and delays at loading and discharge ports are the hot topic of the moment, with at least 130 capesizes from the 930-strong global fleet thought to be waiting to berth.
With increasing numbers of vessels removed from the spot market, the average daily capesize rate has soared to around $88,000 this week, just shy of its 2009 high of $92,000 per day.
As well as improving time charter rates, the period market was experiencing much more activity now that rates were on the rise, he said.
Baltic Exchange fixture lists show that 46 bulk carriers have been booked in the last four days, including 25 panamaxes.
Three-quarters of the 46 ships booked were for periods of less than one year. However, Glencore and Klaveness both hired panamaxes for two-year periods.

After swallowing NewLead, Aries to launch growth as NewLead
--- The new owners of Aries Maritime Transport have launched a major reorganisation which sees the Nasdaq-listed company enter the shipmanagement sector, quit container shipping and get a new name. The reorganisation aims to use the listed company as a platform of growth for its new stakeholders.
December 4 shareholders meeting in Piraeus will be asked to change the name from Aries to NewLead Holdings. In a filing to US securities commission Aries explains: "Reasons for this proposed change are to better reflect our branding and direction."
Aries will buy Newlead Shipmanagement from its largest shareholder Piraeus-based GrandUnion in an all shares deal worth $180m which will see Newlead's six vessels, two capesize and two panamax bulkers and a pair of newbuild chemical tankers joining the public company.
The planned sale of its last two container ships will leave Aries with 18 vessels, of which 11 will be product tankers and seven bulkers.
GrandUnion's principals, Nick Fistes and Michail Zolotas, recently took control of Aries in a deal which gave GrandUnion nearly 19m Aries shares in exchange for three capesize bulk carriers. Zolotas, Aries ceo, said: "We acquired Aries because we believe that we can use it as a platform for growth. Today, we announce the dropdown of Newlead Shipmanagement, a technical and commercial management company, and six vessels, of which four are dry-bulk vessels and two are product tankers."
Zolotas said: "All of these assets are owned by GrandUnion Inc, and Aries will be exchanging shares of common stock in Aries for these assets. We believe Newlead Shipmanagement will improve Aries' operating efficiency, which has been poor to date, by bringing in house the necessary technical and commercial expertise to manage a broad range of vessels."
Newlead's six vessels are the 149,498dwt Grand Ocean, the 134,982dwt Grand Venetico and the 68,788dwt Grand Rodosi, all built 1990, the 75,966dwt double bottom bulker Grand Victoria built 2002, and the double-hull product tankers, 37,337dwt Hiona, built 2003 and the 37,330dwt Hiotissa, built 2004. Each is attached to a long-term contract.
However, only $20m will be paid via the issue of new shares at not less than $2.25 each. The remainder will be covered by the assumption of liabilities.
Aries will leave container shipping if a preliminary agreement for the sale of the 2009-built, 2,917teu pair MSC Seine and Saronikos Bridge, for which $11.4m in cash will be raised, is rubber stamped.
Aries revealed a $111m loss which includes a $91.6m impairment charge for vessel values, which ceo Zolotas said allows Aries to "move forward with a clean slate and a clear vision".
Zolotas, said the new management's relationships with banks will give Aries access to more transactions, allowing further growth. "We believe Aries can grow and prosper by fixing the factors causing the prior underperformance," said Zolotas in a conference call. "These were an inflexible balance sheet, high debt ratio, and most importantly, a poor reputation with the financial and shipping communities."
He said the most difficult challenge for new managers is "transforming Aries from an also-ran, virtually irrelevant company to a vibrant, growing organisation".
-- Filed: 2009-11-17

Sanko sells Handy trio to Greece
--- 19 Nov 2009. Sales of older bulkers allow for a focus on fleet rejuvenation
Sale and purchase reports suggest that Sanko, the Japanese owner, has sold three box-shaped Handymax general cargo ships that have been under its commercial control since delivery. The sisters Sanko Rejoice, Sanko Reliance and Sanko Rose (built 1994, 1995 and 1995 at Namura and all about 42,529dwt) are said to have been sold for $14.5M each to unidentified Greek buyers.
The below-average deadweight and unusual eight-hold, eight-hatch configuration may have been discounting factors compared to recent sales of conventional Handymaxes, but ships with open-hatches and box-shaped holds of such a size are rarely on the market.
Meanwhile, Dryships has continued to dispose of older bulk tonnage, this week reportedly accepting $23.75M for its Panamax Iguana (built 1996 Sanoyas, 70,349 dwt).
The buyers are thought to be Greek interests.
The NASDAQ-listed bulk player is also marketing its Panamaxes Toro and Delray for sale through exclusive brokers. Most of the other ships under control by Dryships are under 10 years old.

Metrostar in victory over yard refunds
---A Greek owner has won a judgement in the UK against a yard's main financier.
Greek owner Metrostar has recovered its down payment on six bulkers it ordered at troubled South Korean shipyard Jinse after winning a judgement in the UK High Court.
The owner confirms it won a case against South Korea's Kookmin Bank bank over $46.6m, the value of refund guarantees put up for the newbuilding project.
Metrostar's single-purpose entity Rainy Sky took its case to the High Court after Pusan-based Jinse entered a financial restructuring process.
The shipyard upgraded its services from block manufacturer to shipbuilder in 2007 but ran into financial trouble in 2008 following the global financial meltdown. In June, the yard was excluded from a restructuring programme put together by the Korean Federation of Banks (KFB) as its main financier, Kookmin Bank, could not agree on a scheme with the yard's creditors. Jinse subsequently filed for bankruptcy protection in South Korea.
Metrostar ordered six 32,000-dwt bulkers at $33.3m each at the yard.
Kookmin argued in court that Metrostar was only entitled to repayment if it rejected a vessel, terminated a contract or a total loss of a vessel was declared. Metrostar, however, argued that it is "odd and uncommercial" for a refund to only be payable in these circumstances.
Market observers say this is the first time a Korean bank has paid a claim since the shipping sector entered crisis in late 2008.
Norwegian owner Arne Blystad is also said to be in the process of fighting a case against Kookmin in the UK, claiming $250m in refund guarantees. The owner had signed for a 20-unit order project for 32,000-dwt bulkers at the yard.
Kookmin is in the process of preparing an appeal against the Metrostar victory.
By Yiota Gousas Athens
Published: 00:00 GMT, 20 Nov 2009 | last updated: 09:55 GMT, 20 Nov 2009

TEN joins SEAaT
--- Thursday, 19 November 2009
Tsakos Energy Navigation (TEN) has joined SEAaT, the shipping industry emissions abatement and trading association has announced.

ECDIS trains Ceres LNG
--- (Nov 19 2009). UK ECDIS training company ECDIS Ltd has completed its first batch of training courses for Greek LNGC manager Ceres LNG.
Two more courses are planned.
The training courses were conducted at Ceres head office in Piraeus using ECDIS Ltd mobile training.
The five day flag state approved IMO 1.27 course was delivered using PC Maritime software.
In addition to the IMO 1.27 model, the course contained advanced elements of route planning, pilotage, DR and EP development during GPS failure and failure of the main bridge terminals.
The course also involved a series of comprehensive exercises and exams.
In order to develop safe electronic navigation operating procedures for the LNGCs, the course also covered deck officer handover routines and the use of bespoke check-off cards.
ECDIS Ltd provides navigation training and consultation in the use of the system. The company specialises in providing flag state approved IMO model ECDIS courses to be conducted on any IMO accredited system.
The ECDIS training is endorsed and accredited by the UK's Maritime and Coastguard Agency (MCA).