Greek Shipping News Cuts
Week 13 - 2010


Will containerships stack up for Greek owners?

---An historic chance for Greek owners to grab a larger share of the box fleet has produced a smattering of deals, but not the deluge of acquisitions that some expected, writes Nigel Lowry
Nigel Lowry - Thursday 1 April 2010
WHEN Sea Traders, a dry cargo stable-mate of George Prokopiou-led Dynacom Tankers, added a first-ever container vessel to its fleet last year, some saw it as one of the first drops in a forthcoming deluge of Greek boxship acquisitions.
There is no doubt that the travails of the liner industry and the consequent plunge in prices for container vessels have prompted an unprecedented amount of interest in the sector among the ranks of Greek owners, few of whom have ever dipped a toe in the sector.
Altogether there is estimated to be more than $1bn out there looking for deals which, if attractive enough, would pull more container vessels into the Greek-controlled fleet.
At the same time as war chests have been growing, though, market conditions and sentiment towards the sector have been fluctuating, almost by the week. Those keeping a close watch on container tonnage offer as many possible reasons why the big boxship grab may never happen as for why it could, potentially, still occur.
Meanwhile the Sea Eagle , as it has been renamed, has been rechartered to K Line for five months, in the expectation that the market will improve before too long. At present, though, the owner is losing money as net charter income is exceeded by running expenses.
The largest move so far has come from Aeolos Management, linked to the Embiricos family. More usually identified with bulkers and particularly tankers in recent years, the clan has judged it an opportune time to invest in container vessels at relatively low levels.
So far more than $160m has gone on six post-panamax vessels this year and it is understood that the group is not excluding further investments.
Recently this was followed by the acquisition of the 2001-built, 6,712 teu CMA CGM Ravel and 2001-built 6,627 teu sister vessels CMA CGM Bizet and CMA CGM Debussy , all of which have been chartered back for up to five years to their French former owner.
Perhaps this applies less to a trio of publicly listed companies that have to some extent already hinted at their container vessel acquisition plans and would appear to have the firepower and time horizon to see them through.
Recently dry bulk owner Diana Shipping has launched Diana Container Ships Inc, putting up $50m for a 38% stake in the new company whose mission is to acquire boxships over the next two years.
Armed with $135m from its initial offering under Rule 144A, the company is already known to be actively looking for its first acquisitions, but little has been pinned down so far with regard to which segment Diana is likely to concentrate on most.
Also out there hunting is fellow listed company Euroseas, partly through its $175m Euromar fund, which has just been launched in conjunction with hedge fund Eton Park and private equity group Rhone Capital III.
London-listed Goldenport Holdings, like Euroseas an owner of both container vessels and bulkers, has also said it favours small and medium-sized container vessels and is actively looking.
Executives at several other Greek-managed publicly trading companies say they have looked at the container sector as a duty to shareholders to identify accretive deals, but boxships are clearly not for everyone.
Mr Prokopiou renamed his solitary boxship Swan , perhaps in the belief that a kind of vessel that has become an ugly duckling for those caught in the liner market crash will become beautiful again once the upturn arrives.

Passengfer ship companies find the going tough
---The Attica Group, operators of Blue Star Ferries and Superfast Ferries, suffered a Euro 50m ($67.4m) reversal in 2009 plunging to a loss of Euro 27.45m against a profit of Euro 22.26m in the January to December 2008 period.
The 2009 result comes after a number of extraordinatry losses of some Euro 17.32m, while group revenue of Euro 302.48m, was some 7.2% down on the Euro 325.91m in 2008. EBITDA in 2009 was Euro 29.07m down from Euro 47.67m.
Athens Stock Exchange-listed Attica says the results include extraordinary losses of Euro 6.4m from interest rate hedging, one-off loss of Euro 4.38m from fuel hedging, a one-off capital loss of Euro 3.53m from the sale of Superfast V and an extraordinary expense of Euro 2.91m from special social responsibility taxes. The 2008 result included extraordinary profits from the sale of four roro ships and positive foreign exchange differences of Euro 2.2m against Euro 200,000 in 2009.
Attica says the results were affected by the world financial crisis which impacted on traffic movements in the Adriatic Sea and in the domestic market. "Despite the drop in volumes, Attica managed to increase market shares in the Greece-Italy routes both in passenger and cargo traffic and has strengthened its presence in the domestic waters with the addition of two vessels, one in the Piraeus-Rhodes route and one in the new route between Piraeus and Heraklion," said Attica.
At December 31, 2009, the cash balance stood at Euro 16.87m compared to Euro 119.12m a year earlier. However, following completion of the sale of the Superfast V February 2010, the cash balance rose to Euro 70.3m.
The drop in the 2009 balance was largely due to the advance payment of Euro 25.9m for two newbuildings at Daewoo S & ME in South Korea; the equity participation of Euro 30.4m for the acquisition of Superfast II; the long-term debt repayments of Euro 38.8m and to dividend payments of Euro 9.9m.
Attica completed a rights issue in January 2010 raising Euro 41.62m and the share capital now consists of 162,424,000 shares, with nominal value Euro 0.83/share with MIG Shipping and MIG Holding owning 88.7% of Attica.
Crete-based Anek Lines had a slightly better year in 2009 as passenger and vehicle volumes improved, but it still operated in the red. Athens-listed Anek reports a the net deficit in 2009 of Euro 5.8m, some Euro 100,000 better than the previous year, as the company faces adverse conditions stemming from the economic recession, the slide of economic activity and demand, and intense competition in most routes.
Its 16 ships brought in turnover of Euro 274.5m against Euro 282.4m in 2008, as freight business declined because of the crisis. However, the John Vardinoyiannis-controlled Anek carried 2.5m passengers in 2009, up from 2.3m in 2008, and 421,000 vehicles, some 32,000 more than in 2008. Financial costs fell to Euro 14.2m from Euro 17.9m.
Looking ahead, it said the impact of the economic recession, intense competition and the cost of fuel are the key features that will shape the outlook.
It added: "Anek has deployed its vast experience and know-how, its patience and devotion as its ammunition against the prevailing adverse conditions and aims to enhance market share of the existing market while also aiming to exploit any arising opportunities in order to expand its operations into new and promising markets."
-- Filed: 2019-03-29

Vardinoyannis group sells off sixth vessel in as many months
---Greece's Vardinoyannis group continues to weed single-hull vessels out of its fleet and now has just two left as it awaits the delivery of a series of newbuildings.
The latest in a series of ships sold for scrap is the 41,200-dwt products tanker Kriti Akti (built 1986). The 8,597-ldt vessel is said to have gone to Indian breakers for $440 per ldt on an "as is" basis in Fujairah.
In the past six months, Vardinoyannis has also disposed of another five ships. In October, the double-bottomed, 46,700-dwt Samaria (built 1985) was sold to Bangladeshi breakers at a reported $330 per ldt and in December the 47,500-dwt Kriti Palm (built 1986) went to Indian breakers for $358 per ldt.
This year, the 95,000-dwt Kriti Rock was sold to Bangladesh at $398 per ldt, the 41,500-dwt Kriti River raised $440 per ldt from India and 47,600-dwt Kriti Color (built 1987) went to Bangladesh for $435 per ldt.
According to Avin International's own website, this leaves the group with the 145,200-dwt single-skinner Kriti Episkopi (built 1992) and 41,500-dwt Kriti Art (built 1986).
An Avin executive confirms that two single-hull VLCCs owned by the group that do not appear on its website are bareboat chartered out and under third-party management.
The company is now waiting to take delivery of a number of newbuildings. It is already operating the 6,700-dwt Providence , delivered in 2009 from Ruian Jiangnan Shipyard, and 3,300-dwt Fres , also delivered last year from Fujian Dongming Shipbuilding. Databases show that Avin will take delivery of a further two vessels of 6,200 dwt and six vessels of 3,200 dwt this year.
However, Avin's website says the company has a newbuilding programme in South Korea. In 2008, it took delivery of a pair of 50,500-dwt products tankers from SPP Plant & Shipbuilding and was said to be negotiating another order for a number of larger tankers in the Far East. Details remain undisclosed and the company has seemingly been successful in keeping the project under wraps, as no listings of such orders show up on usually reliable databases.
The executive did not wish to reveal any details of the newbuilding programme.
By Gillian Whittaker Athens
Published: 23:00 GMT, 31 Mar 10 | updated: 10:21 GMT, 31 Mar 10

Capesize for Carras
---Carras Hellas took delivery on 17 February of Aquadiva, the third in a series of four Capesize bulkers, from AP Moller subsidiary Odense Lindo shipyard in Denmark.
Ordered in August 2007, the Piraeus-registered vessel has a MAN B&W main engine that provides 18,660kW at 91rpm and nine holds with a total capacity of 199,461m3. It is classed by ABS.
Source: Solutions and Newbuildings - Magazine - Taking Stock 01 Apr 2010, Fairplay latest front Cover

Ship delivery delay may top 40%
---More than two-fifths of new dry-bulk commodity-hauling ships scheduled for delivery this year may be delayed or canceled, helping to avert a capacity glut, vessel owner Hellenic Carriers Ltd. said.
"Financing issues are playing a role for both owners and shipyards," Fotini Karamanlis, chief executive officer of Piraeus, Greece-based Hellenic, said by phone today. Delays and cancellations will be "40 percent or even higher this year," she said.
Such interruptions would lessen the effect of the biggest construction plan in history for coal, iron-ore and grains carriers. Goldenport Holdings Inc., which competes with Hellenic, said Jan. 11 it had agreed to cancel construction of two new supramax-class ships that were to be delivered in December.
Owners have orders for 1,487 vessels for delivery this year, representing record extra carrying capacity of 122.4 million deadweight tons, according to Clarkson Research Services Ltd.
The Baltic Dry Index, an overall measure of commodity shipping costs, fell 15 percent from the end of last year to a 2010 low on Feb. 15, according to the London-based Baltic Exchange. The gauge has since rallied to 3,337 points, up 11 percent for the year, helped by an advance in March's first week that was its biggest in four months.
Hellenic, whose fleet carries bulk commodities including cement and coal, was the last of three Greek-controlled shipping lines to sell shares in London, Karamanlis said.
Source: Bloomberg, Page 19, 2010-03-29 12:00 AM

Mixed IPO results
---(Apr 1 2010). The current tranche of IPOs has met with little market enthusiasm, leading to one IPO being postponed indefinitely.
This postponement concerned crude oil and drybulk shipowner Alma Maritime, which has withdrawn its IPO indefinitely, due to "market conditions," according to an underwriter.
Athens-based Alma Maritime had planned to raise about $225 mill by selling 11.25 mill shares for $19 to $21 each.
The company does not currently own any ships but said it had agreements in place to purchase one drybulk carrier and six tankers. It planned to do business based on short, medium and long-term charters, including spot charters.
Alma said in its prospectus it would pay ongoing management fees to Empire Navigation and estimated it would pay about $3.1 mill to Empire this year.
Recent shipping-related IPOs in the US markets have struggled.
Drybulk shipper Baltic Trading was about 3.6% below its IPO price, tanker company Crude Carriers was down about 10.8% and Brazilian billionaire Eike Batista's shipbuilding and oil services startup OSX Brasil was down about 10% after cutting its offering, US news agencies reported.
Crude oil vessel operator Scorpio Tankers made its debut this week and announced on Wednesday that it has priced its initial public offering of 12,500,000 shares of its common stock, par value $0.01 per share, at $13.00 per share.
This offering is expected to close on 6th April, 2010. The underwriters have a 30-day option to purchase up to an additional 1,875,000 shares of common stock to cover over-allotments, if any.
Scorpio Tankers' common stock was due to begin trading on 31st March, 2010 on the New York Stock Exchange.
The company currently owns three tanker vessels and had planned to use the proceeds of the offering, together with a commitment letter for a new $150 mill senior secured credit facility, to repay its existing credit facility.
After assessing any working capital and other general corporate expense needs, the company said it would then pursue vessel acquisitions ranging in size from about 35,000 dwt, to 200,000 dwt, of not more than five years old.
Scorpio sold 12.5 mill shares for $13 apiece. It had hoped to gain $14 to $16 each for the shares.
The 'Miltiadis M II' is the second of the three vessels that make up the company's initial fleet and was acquired at a purchase price of $71.25 mill.
The remaining vessel, the 'Achilleas,' another newbuilding VLCC currently under construction at Universal Shipbuilding in Japan, is expected to be delivered at the end of June 2010.
Evangelos Marinakis, Crude Carriers chairman and CEO, said: "We are pleased to have taken delivery of the second vessel from our initial fleet promptly after the delivery of 'Alexander the Great' and shortly after completion of our IPO. Both vessels are trading currently with Shell Trading & Shipping, which underlines our ability to employ our vessels on attractive spot related charters with oil majors. We believe Crude Carriers is well positioned to give investors exposure to the crude tanker spot market."

Diana Shipping Inc. Files 2009 Annual Report

Excel Maritime Appoints New Chief Operating Officer and New Chief Financial Officer
Mr. Mazarakis (45) has 20 years of experience in finance and operations positions, mostly at a senior level. Mr. Mazarakis started his career in 1991 at Procter & Gamble in Greece. From 1999 to 2008 Mr. Mazarakis held a number of senior positions within the Vodafone Group, namely Group CFO in Greece, Interim CEO in Hungary and COO in Greece. In 2008, Mr. Mazarakis moved to Titan Cement Group (an international building materials company) as Group CFO. Mr. Mazarakis holds an undergraduate degree in business administration from the University of Piraeus, Greece and an MBA from The Ohio State University, USA.
Mr. Kanellopoulos (40) has 15 years of experience in banking and finance positions, mostly at a senior level. He started his career in the International Banking Division of the Bank of Tokyo-Mitsubishi in London. Since 2003, Mr. Kanellopoulos held CFO positions with companies in the manufacturing and TMT sectors, most recently as Group CFO at Forthnet SA, the largest alternative telecom and pay-TV operator in Greece. Mr. Kanellopoulos has studied at the Athens University of Economics, the University of Warwick and the London School of Economics and holds a BSc and MSc (Econ).
Mr. Papatrifon, who has been the Chief Financial Officer of the Company since January 2005, is joining the Board of Directors as of April 2010 and will continue to provide the Company with his expertise and insight.

Danaos Corp. - 4Q Earnings In-Line; Financing Shortfall Remains Biggest Issue
>Management continues to work towards a solution for its newbuild financing shortfall.The company has addressed a portion of the funding gap by deferring deliveries on its orders and has recently sold the 1978-built MSC Eagle for a modest sum of $4.6 million. However a long-term capital source still needs to be secured, with $1.8 billion in shipyard commitments remaining against just $400 million in undrawn credit facilities. With a total of $276 million in free and restricted cash at year-end, plus an estimated $179.4 million in operating cash flow projected for 2010, we estimate Danaos will fully draw-down its available debt before the end of this year.
>The containership market has gradually improved during the past few months.Throughput at major ports around the world has increased substantially, with inbound container volumes at the ports of Long Beach and Los Angeles up 39% and 30% y/y in February respectively. Additionally, total throughput in Hong Kong and Singapore is up 20% and 18% respectively y/y. With volumes on the rise, liner pricing has jumped considerably. This should eventually benefit shipowners as we expect liner companies to re-enter the time charter market to increase the size of their shipping lines. Charter rates have remained just above operating expense levels, but we expect rates to move higher as we proceed throughout the year.
Source: Dahlman Rose & Company, LLC