Greek Shipping News Cuts
Week 07 - 2010


Greeks bearing debts

---The tax-shy Greek shipping industry is watching nervously as prime minister George Papandreou attempts to balance the books. Konstantin Tsolakis reports
Structural problems in the PIIGS group (Portugal, Ireland, Italy, Greece and Spain) have been exposed by the deep recession, stemming from above-average wage and total labour cost increases and low growth in productivity
Budget deficit as % of GDP 2009 2010*
Greece 12.7 8.7
Portugal 9.3 8.3
Ireland 11.7 11.6
Italy 5.0 4.6
Spain 11.4 9.8
* = Forecast
[ Source: IHS Global Insight ]
Source: Fairplay - Story of the Week 18 Feb 2010,

Greek Market Report / S&P Commentary
19 Feb 2010
Greek owners have fostered a new interest in newbuildings with a number of contracts being reported in the past week. Established owners are involved but most of them are surprise builders of new ships.
Led by the order for a pair 81,000-tonne bulkers at South Korea's SSP Plant Shipbuilding from Themis Petrakis/Iason Hellenic Shipping, in all eight ships have been reportedly booked by four Greek owners. George Economou/DryShips has booked a pair of 76,000dwt panamax bulkers at an unnamed Chinese yard; Thomas Skrivanos/Strand Management has gone to Samho Shipbuilding for a pair of 32,000dwt bulkers; and Stamatis Frangoulis/Frangoulis S (Ship Management) has also gone to SSP Plant for a pair of 32,000-tonners.
With the exception of DryShips, which is paying $32.3m each for its vessels, to be delivered in the fourth quarter of 2011 and the first quarter of 2012, prices have not been revealed. However, brokers estimate Iason is paying around $36m for its two, delivery October 2011 and March 2012; Strand is paying around $27.5m, with delivery second quarter 2011; while Frangoulis' two ships set for delivery in 2011 are likely costing $27-28m each.
While all these orders refer to dry bulk ships, broker EA Gibson estimates 300 tankers above 25,000dwt are set to join the fleet this year, though the broker believes 25% of the ships due to be delivered in 2010 will not be handed over. Still, Gibson, estimates completion numbers will be 50 VLCCs, 40 suezmaxes, 65 LR2, 25 LR1 and 120 MR tankers. Given the level of scrapping and conversion demand, Gibson sees the net increase of tankers overall will be about 175 ships. In 2009 the overall number of tanker newbuildings delivered was 405 ships and the net increase in the tanker fleet was 314 units, EA Gibson said.
After falling for 14 months in a row, Japanese export ship orders rose for the second consecutive month in January on a year-on-year basis, surging 50.5% to 471,900gt, according to the Japan Ship Exporters' Association (JSEA).
January's rise followed one of 71.5% in December, but the figures for both months compare with extremely low year-earlier levels. In January, Japanese shipbuilders received orders for four bulk carriers, three oil tankers and two general cargo vessels. The nine ships total 196,000 compensated gross tons.
The s&p market is becoming ever more complicated to follow, as fresh enquiry seems to have dropped off, though an increasing number of buyers keen to get their ship are bypassing inspection. Further, some brokers say negotiations are taking longer than previously, while others say demand is strong and price level are set to rise.
Business has been slow with regard to big ships and energy transporting ships. Though they are supposed to be taking a break, Chinese owners are still far-and-away the most active players, while Japanese sales candidates are attracting most attention. New ships are of greatest interest to Greek owners and once again competition is keen among Greeks for the newbuilding re-sales being tended on the open market.
Union Commercial/Scufalos has bought a Hakodate Shipyard, Japan resale handysize, reportedly shelling out something over $28m for a 31,800-tonner with prompt delivery. Brokers are at odds over who ordered the ship -- Clipper Denmark or a German KG -- but it was offered for tender and sold by a Japanese trading house. The yard is acknowledged as a quality shipbuilder, and according to another Greek party which was interested in the ship, it has high specs. The Scufalos brothers Michael and Pantelis are said to be looking for more re-sales, though they have a pair of 56,200dwt units on order at IHI marine and one 35,000dwt bulker at SPP Tongyeong, all for delivery in 2011.
Unidentified Greek interests are said to have paid a reported $36m for the Nord Bright 56,000dwt, soon to deliver. The deal includes a 3-year t/c.
In other deals several ships have changed hands between Greek owners, with Vulcanus Technical Maritime both a buyer and seller. The Melpomeni, 41,535dwt, built 1984 by Mitsui E & SB, Ichihara, Japan has been sold to unidentified Greek interests for $8.25m, exactly the same amount the Piraeus-based owner is said to have paid Victor Restis/ES&T for the year younger Steel Might, 39,132dwt, built in IHI of Japan.
In the tanker sector another of the Dunya Denizcilik ve Ticaret AS-owned modern ML tankers has found it way into Greek hands. The Gan-Sure, 51,182dwt, built 2006 in STX Shipbuilding, of South Korea has been taken by unidentified Greek interests for $26.5m.
Gregory Callimanopulos-controlled Toisa/Sealion has sold one of its older PSVs, the 1,11-dwt Toisa Lion to Asian interests. No price has been revealed for the 1983-built unit but brokers say something under $5m would be about right.
Meanwhile, Athens Stock Exchange ASE-listed Attica Holdings has concluded delivery of its RoPax vessel Superfast V to Bretagne Angleterre Irlande of Roscoff, France, with the Euro 81.50m deal generating for additional cash of approx Euro 40m for the Attica group.
London AIM-listed Globus Maritime also says it has delivered the handymax vessels Coral Globe, built in 1994, and Sea Globe, built in 1995, to their new owners. George Karageorgiou, ceo of Globus, commented: "We have today concluded the sale of the last two of our vessels built in the mid-1990s. Taking advantage of the cash on our balance sheet and the available bank facilities, we will seek to acquire younger assets that will generate value for our shareholders. We remain focused in our efforts to grow the company."

Marinakis to test 'choppy' IPO market
---A US offering by Evangelos Marinakis is set to target up to $300m in a crude-tanker flotation.
Greek shipowner Evangelos Marinakis is preparing to return to Wall Street with an initial public offering (IPO) focussing on the crude-tanker segment, TradeWinds has learnt.
If successful, the IPO would add a second New York listing to Marinakis's Capital Product Partners, which found a strong reception with investors in a $253m flotation in 2007.
Marinakis is targetting multiple vessel classes on the crude side in a bid to raise between $200m and $300m, sources indicate. While plans are well along, the IPO could hinge on the overall state of the US equity market, which has been "choppy" of late, one source cautions.
The offering is to be led by Bank of America Merrill Lynch (BoA Merrill) with support from Wachovia, TradeWinds understands.
The IPO may well be connected to a recent development in the sale-and-purchase (S&P) market that saw Marinakis buy two VLCC resales from Cido Shipping at $96m each.
TradeWinds reported on 29 January that Capital was behind the purchase of the 300,000-dwt Alexander the Great and Achilleas , which are under construction at Japan's Universal Shipbuilding.
However, Capital quickly denied that it was the buyer. And sources pointed to a different, unidentified Marinakis company as the purchaser, with the price perhaps as low as $92m each. The tankers are expected to be delivered in March and June.
The new Marinakis venture is the second known candidate in the IPO queue. Peter Georgiopoulos's dry-bulk vehicle, Baltic Trading, made its plans known last fall and is fine-tuning prospective vessel acquisitions, according to an amended prospectus filed last week ( see story below ).
There has been no public disclosure of the Marinakis plans because, as a non-US filer, the sponsor is able to make a so-called "quiet filing" with the US Securities & Exchange Commission (SEC).
Marinakis is no stranger to the US public markets. His initial foray came during the IPO wave of 2005 but the Greek chose to withdraw the flotation rather than accept pricing below the target range, according to sources familiar with the effort.
It was a different story in March 2007, when Marinakis brought Capital as a "master limited partnership" or "MLP". The structure entices investors with a reliable dividend secured by relatively long-term charter employment - in Capital's case, four and five-year time charters on new products tankers.
The IPO was an immediate hit, oversubscribed and pricing above its target range at $21.50. It traded well for a while, reaching a high of $32 in July 2007. But Capital has weakened from there with the declining products market. It was trading below $9 recently and last month slashed its shareholder distribution by more than 40%. If there are further shipping MLPs, they will likely feature longer charter cover than what Capital provided.
In any event, a crude-fleet flotation would appear to be sufficiently different from Capital to avoid any conflict issues, and almost certainly would not be an MLP.
No shipowner has completed an IPO in New York since June 2008, when dry-bulk player Britannia Bulk floated only to go bust in the market downturn later that year.
By Joe Brady Stamford
Published: 00:00 GMT, 19 Feb 10 | updated: 14:41 GMT, 18 Feb 10

---Diana Shipping Inc. announced, on Tuesday, that it had successfully raised approximately $132 million for its previously announced project involving the formation of a company to invest in containerships over the next 12 to 18 months. Diana will be investing $50 million or approximately 38% of the equity with the balance provided by institutional and accredited investors in a private transaction.
While Diana will stand to benefit from the administrative and vessel

Is easyCruise on Life Support?
---easyCruise Life (7:45 p.m. EST) -- The future of easyCruise, the one-ship budget cruise line, which ferried passengers around the Greek Isles in Spartan style, appears to be in serious limbo.
The line has canceled its 2010 itineraries and, according to members of the Cruise Critic message boards, refunds are being issued. Cruise Critic reader Paul Strasser recently received the following letter from easyCruise customer service: "We would like to inform you that we cannot confirm any availability at the moment since our 2010 operation is on hold from the Top Management of our mother company (HSW) [Hellenic Seaways]."
Still, we've yet to receive confirmation of refunds or the status of easyCruise beyond 2010 from company representatives -- and here's where things get a little complicated. In August, the license to use the easyCruise brand was sold by serial entrepreneur Stelios, owner of the multi-faceted easyGroup (easyJet, easyPizza, etc.), to Hellenic Seaways, a major player in the Greek ferry and shipping industry. Stelios confirmed that licensor and licensee agreed that it was best to take the ship off the market for a year but offered no further details. Representatives from Hellenic Seaways could not be reached for comment by phone.
In its short life, easyCruise has struggled to find an identity that's both unique and financially viable. It was first introduced in 2005 as a backpacker-approved "floating hostel" in the Southern Caribbean. A short-lived, hostel-like river cruise operation was launched in 2006 but was canceled mid-season the following year. In the past few years, the line has moved away from its founding ethos -- port stays into the wee hours of the morning, no included onboard meals or housekeeping -- and has evolved into a more mainstream product by raising fares and folding food and housekeeping into the price. In late 2009, easyCruise redefined itself once again, offering stops in multiple Greek Isles ports per day as part of three- and four-night cruises.
Otherwise, stay tuned; we'll continue to report on this as information is received.
--by Dan Askin, Associate Editor

Turkey to help crisis-hit Greece, Minister says
---Caglayan said that 225 businessmen came to Athens from Turkey in an effort to support Greece.
Wednesday, 17 February 2010 09:07
Turkish State Minister for Foreign Trade Zafer Caglayan said that 225 businessmen came to Athens from Turkey in an effort to support Greece.
Making opening remarks of the 9th Turkish Aegean Cost-Greek Aegean Islands Economic Summit in Athens, Caglayan said, "the whole world is living through a global financial crisis. In such an environment, solidarity between our countries is of great importance. Today, Greece has faced some economic problems. 225 businessmen came to Athens from Turkey in an effort to support Greece in this difficult period."
"Turkey has some geographical and strategic advantages with Caucasus and Russia in the north, Asia in the east, the Middle East in the southeast and Africa in the south. Turkey has very significant ties in those regions. We want to call on Greek businessmen to carry out joint projects with Turkish businessmen in the third countries," he said.
Caglayan said that they needed to encourage Turkish and Greek businessmen to develop their cooperation, and resolve the difficulties stemming from visa requirements.
Greek Economy, Competitiveness & Shipping Minister Louka Katseli, on his part, said that Turkey and Greece should cooperate with each other to develop a solution for the global financial crisis.
She said that he considered the global financial crisis as an opportunity to develop cooperation between the two countries.
Katseli said that 77 Greek investors undertook projects worth of 6 billion USD in Turkey, and called on Turkish businessmen to invest in Greece.
She said that they attached great importance to the project of establishing a joint index between Turkish and Greek national stock exchanges. "It will create a new financial market and pave the way for new cooperations in our banking sectors," he said.
Katseli said that Turkey and Greece should also cooperate in tourism and maritime.
She said that Turkey and Greece should also work together to prevent illegal migration. "Let's turn the Aegean into a sea of peace and cooperation," he added.