Greek Shipping News Cuts
Week 39 - 2010


Greeks get used to life in the public eye

--- Greek shipping culture has seen huge changes in the past two decades.
Bigger! Better! Newer! More valuable!
Comparative figures in February 1990 stood at 2,426 vessels of 84,439,159 dwt, so while the number of ships has increased by only about 65% the deadweight tally has more than tripled.
There is a similar lack of comparative data concerning the average age of the Greek fleet but even from 1995 the improvement in the age profile is dramatic. In that year, the average of Greek vessels was 19.1 years, 3.3 years older than the world fleet.
This year, Greek ships averaged 11.6 years, with the average age of the world fleet standing at 12.9 years.
And yet more numbers: according to figures released by the Bank of Greece, shipping revenues in 1990 totalled $1.4bn. For 2009, the same source records earnings from shipping of EUR 13.6bn. If converted at the rate of December 31 2009, this totals $19.4bn, a significant jump even if two decades of inflation is taken into consideration.
Regulatory pressures have changed the management style to a certain extent but also the rush to the public markets had brought with it an obligation to create a corporate structure.
In 1990, the only Greek listed company was Anangel-American Shipholdings Ltd (AASL), jointly owned by John Angelicoussis and American Express, which made a splash by raising $45m through its initial public offering (IPO) in 1987. Paradoxically, even before the bulk of Greek owners flocked to the Nasdaq and other exchanges, Angelicoussis had delisted in 2002.
Today, there are 24 pure Greek companies listed on stock exchanges in the US and the UK, while a further four belong to US-based, Greek-origin owners. There are plenty of indications that if the markets show an appetite, other owners will be happy to step up for a shot at listing.
In the past 20 years, a new generation of Greek shipowners has emerged. Nikolas Tsakos followed his father, Captain Panayiotis, into the business, although the elder Tsakos still rules the group. Costis Constantakopoulos took over the reins from his father, Captain Vassilis, while Harry Vafias shows up much more frequently than his father, Nikos. Angeliki Frangou has branched out beyond anything her father, Captain Nikolas Frangos, might have dreamed of, and the same could be said of Evangelos Marinakis, who took over from his late father, Militiadis or Polys V Hajioannou, of Safe Bulkers.
Yes, things have changed. But it is to be hoped that the wisdom and invaluable experience of the seafarer-turned-shipowner is retained and as valued as it should be.
By Gillian Whittaker Athens
Published: 19:09 GMT, 29 Sep 10 | updated: 19:09 GMT, 29 Sep 10

Greek owners eye containership market
--- * Wednesday 29 September 2010 * by Nigel Lowry
Chartworld Shipping and Capital Maritime & Trading mull expanding boxship presence
THE latest Greek entrants to plunge into the container vessel market are ready to invest in further boxships if they can find suitable deals.
No price has been given to brokers for the quartet recently acquired by Chartworld, but it is understood they have been snapped up for $40m-$45m per vessel, well short of the price at which they were contracted.
Another fresh addition to the ranks of Greek boxship owners is Capital Maritime & Trading, which has emerged as the buyer of two 1,700 teu vessels built at troubled Wadan Yards in Germany.
The first of the pair of 2010 built units has already been named Amorito and a short-term charter is understood to have been clinched ahead of delivery in the next few days.
A container shipping source said the second vessel, which is due for delivery at the end of October, has not yet been fixed .
In all, about 40 containerships have been confirmed as sold to Greek owners so far this year, with many of the buyers taking their first steps in the liner sector.
Generally, Greek owners have been motivated by the perception that container vessel prices are historically low compared with ships in other market sectors, and that boxships promise upside potential from a recovering container industry.

Greece Shipping Report Q4 2010 - New Market Report Published
--- New report provides detailed analysis of the Logistics market
Published on September 30, 2010
Greece's two main container ports, Piraeus and Thessaloniki, followed the global trend by posting year-on- year (y-o-y) increases in box throughput in H110. We believe that despite Greece's economic troubles the nation's ports are on course to post y-o-y growth for the whole of 2010. Projected container throughput volumes remain, however, well below the volumes seen a few years ago, and highlight the affect of strikes and the global downturn in trade on the ports. The country's largest container facility, the port of Piraeus, handled 376,727 20-foot equivalent units (TEUs) in H110, while the port of Thessaloniki handled just over 155,000TEUs, a y-o-y increase of 5.3%. We believe that this growth in throughput is symptomatic of the global trend of y-o-y improvement in throughput as global trade begins to recover. This growth comes despite Greece's economic problems, which our country risk desk asserts will have affected the nation's trade, with Greece's total trade set to stagnate in 2010 and then decline by 1.6% y-o-y following a projected global slowdown in 2011.
Following the financial crisis earlier this year, the Greek government faces a major fiscal and political challenge over the remainder of 2010 and into 2011. Current plans require it to reduce public spending by a massive 5% of GDP in 2010 alone, with further reductions in subsequent years. The downside for the country's ports and shipping sector is that the struggling PASOK government may simply crack under the pressure of opposition, public protests and strikes, doing so ahead of the 2013 parliamentary elections, and triggering a new round of political uncertainty while putting the EUR110bn IMF/European Union rescue package in jeopardy.
Although perhaps hard to imagine, there is also an upside: if the radical restructuring of the economy to shrink the bloated public sector is successful, outward-looking and more efficient sectors such as shipping will have to be in the forefront of the eventual recovery. In the wake of the EU rescue package and painful fiscal adjustment at home, we are estimating that GDP will have fallen by 4.6% in 2010, after a 2% fall in 2009. We see no early relief either, with our projections suggesting the economy will contract again in 2011 by 2.4%, the third consecutive year of negative growth.
We estimate that 2010 will be pretty much a stand-still year for Greece's main ports. At the Port of Thessaloniki, where volumes fell by 14.8% in 2008 and by another 6.7% in 2009, this year we believe there will be negligible growth - an increase of 0.2% to 14.985mn tonnes. We see no real change in 2011, either, forecasting that volumes will edge down by 0.1%. At the Port of Piraeus, where there was a massive fall of 47.9% in 2008 and a 10.7% recovery in 2009; we are estimating this year's growth at only 0.2%, taking volume handled to 11.621mn tonnes.
At Thessaloniki we estimate container throughput will have stood still this year - +0.6% to 271,677TEUs. We forecast a weaker 2011 with volume falling by 0.3%. At Piraeus, which remains the country's largest container terminal, we estimate growth this year will be 0.4%, with handling reaching 513,907TEUs. In real terms, the value of Greek trade collapsed by 15.7% in 2009, and our estimates point to it remaining trapped at that low level in 2010 (we are predicting growth of only 0.1%). Contrary to our earlier expectation of marginal recovery in 2011, we now expect it to fall back by 2.0% with growth not resuming until 2012. In nominal terms, imports will have dropped 0.1% this year to US$100.9bn, while exports will fall 0.3% to US$64.8bn. We see Greece continuing to run a large balance of trade deficit across the entire forecast period.
The risks to our forecast for the ports and shipping sector remain on the downside, and the single most important of these risks is that the Athens government fails to deliver the promised fiscal restructuring.

Greece hopes Wen visit will boost China investment
--- Published October 01, 2010, By Ingrid Melander
ATHENS, Oct 2 (Reuters) - Chinese Premier Wen Jiabao arrivesin Greece on Saturday for a two-day visit the country's leadershope will help boost investment and confidence in the its ailingeconomy.
Greece needs foreign investment to revive its fortunes andhelp it fulfil the terms of a 110-billion-euro bailout whichrescued it from bankruptcy in May but forced it impose strictausterity measures which deepened its recession.
Wen, starting a tour of European countries, will give a voteof confidence in Greece's economy, Chinese officials said.
Greek officials said no major deals would be concluded butGreece and China would pledge to stimulate investment by signinga memorandum of understanding.
However, private companies will sign about a dozencooperation deals covering shipping, logistics, construction andtourism, along the lines of another set of accords signed inJuly, an official close to Investment Minister Harris Pamboukissaid..
"We want to build this strategic partnership with China,"the official said. "The purpose is not a signature on somethingbig."
Greek government spokesman George Petalotis told reporterson Friday Wen visit was a show of confidence in the Greekeconomy, pointing out that a few days earlier Athens signed a $5billion framework deal to attract investment from Qatar.
"All this shows our country is changing course," he said.
All eyes will be on whether Wen and Greek Prime MinisterGeorge Papandreou discuss Greek government bonds. China has said it needs to diversify its foreign currencyholdings and has bought Spanish government bonds.
Greece, whose economy is supported by the European Union andthe International Monetary Fund, aims to return to bond marketsnext year. In January, it denied media reports it planned tosell up to 25 billion euros to China.
Clinching business deals with countries such as China andQatar would help boost confidence among Greece's consumers andbusinesses, economic analysts said.
With the global economic crisis and competition with otherBalkan countries increasing, foreign direct investment in Greecefell from 6.9 billion euros in 2006 to 4.5 billion euros in2009, according to Investment Ministry figures.
Chinese investment represents a small proportion of this,excluding a 35-year concession deal China's Cosco signed in 2008to turn the port of Piraeus into a regional hub for a guaranteedamount of 3.4 billion euros, according to port authorityfigures.
Wen will address the Greek parliament on Sunday and leaveearly on Monday for Brussels where he will attend an EU-Chinasummit before going on to Germany, Italy and Turkey. (Additional reporting by Renee Maltezou; Editing by AndrewDobbie)

Significant Changes in Chinese and Greek Ship Finance
--- October 1, 2010 * Analysis by: Diran Majarian
There was a big hope in the cash-starved market in Greece that China might be a new source of finance for Greek owners. The Greek public debt crisis has effectively locked up small, medium market Greek owners from senior debt financing from local Greek banks.
Chinese banks had expressed an interest in targeting more international ship finance business, even if there is not a domestic element. In practice, very little actual business has been done.
The majority of these smaller Greek shipping companies are very heathy economically with good reserves from the boom years and most of their fleet paid off, but domestic banking crisis has deprived them of bank finance for fleet renewal.
There is considerable potential in the Greek market for foreign lenders interested in medium term asset lending with attractive pricing. Also this situation makes lease financing a viable alternative. The high loan pricing makes leasing more competitive than credit conditions prior the 2008 meltdown.
DnB NOR Bank's Espen Lund said recently "With this shortage we now have the big shipping companies coming back to us and our business is now back on track." Presently growing need in China for international finance sources is leveling the playing field. Earlier this year DnB secured a Renminbi currency licence to extend their loan business to the local Chinese market. The Chinese domestic fleet is almost equal in size to the international fleet and is basically Renminbi currency dominated.
If the moribund situation in Greece prevails over time, it will result potentially in more rapid consolidation of the Greek fleet in fewer and larger companies with access to public markets and international banks. It may also lead to a longer term shift, where the Chinese-controlled fleet grows in proportion to service more its cargo transport needs.

China to support ship purchases by Greece: Wen
--- By Agence France-Presse, Updated: 10/2/2010
China will help finance the purchase of Chinese ships by Greek shipping companies with the creation of a five-billion-dollar fund, Prime Minister Wen Jiabao said Saturday in Athens.
"China will create a fund to support the development of Greek shipping companies in the amount of five billion dollars. That is an offer to support the purchase of Chinese ships by Greek shipping companies," said Wen at a joint press conference with his Greek counterpart George Papandreou.

ECHR decision to clear Spain in Mangouras claim is slammed
--- Shipping bodies have slammed the European Court of Human Rights dismissal of a legal challenge against Spain from captain Apostolos Mangouras master of the Prestige. The ECHR ruled no rights were violated when Spain imprisoned Mangouras for 83 days without trial and ordered the captain to pay a Euro 3m ($4.06m) in bail for his release.
Mangouras had maintained he had a right to be freed from provisional imprisonment before the Prestige prosecution, and that the bail amount failed to account for his personal circumstances. Spanish police arrested Mangouras after Prestige sank on November 13, 2002 in a severe storm after being refused refuge in Spanish waters.
The court ruled Spain's extension of the captain's preventive imprisonment was not illegal, citing concern he would escape, the seriousness of the disaster and the impact the resulting oil spill had on public opinion. The court ruling added much lower bail would not have guaranteed Mangouras presenting himself for trial, while his P&I club would pay for the high bail. Prosecutors sought Euro 2.23bn ($2.68bn) in compensation from the London P&I Club.
First to react was Intertanko which declared itself 'horrified' at the ruling, describing it as "outrageous". The ICS, the ISF and the Greek Shipping Co-operation Committee have also condemned the ruling. Intertanko accused the ECHR of legitimising demands for a "pirate's ransom" for a responsible ship's master involved in accidental pollution. "The potential for politically motivated decisions empowered by the level of public outcry is obvious, as are the fearful implications for every seafarer, who by this decision, loses his right to natural justice," said Intertanko. "This is a terrifying conclusion for the maritime industry, suggesting that basic issues of liberty will be overridden by concerns over pollution."
"Faced with Spain's refusal to give the ship refuge, Capt Mangouras courageously did everything he could to save his crew and his ship and its cargo and protect the environment by minimising pollution, ending up forced by the Spanish authorities against his better judgement to take the ship out to sea in a storm," said Intertanko. "It is simply unacceptable that ships' officers, having committed no fault, be treated as common criminals because of the consequences of their actions, when the actions themselves are above reproach," says Intertanko's md, Peter Swift. He said: "In addition it is also completely unacceptable that they should now face being held to ransom as scapegoats for the environmental lobby. Had the P & I club insurers not acted with compassion, Capt Mangouras, now 75, would likely still be in jail in Spain awaiting trial. Eight years on, can that be fair or just?"E
-- Filed: 2010-10-01

Frangou seeks more junk
--- TANKER start-up Navios Acquisition is raising $375M through a private junk-bond placement, guaranteed by six VLCCs.
After market close yesterday, Navios Acquisition said it seeks to place the first-priority mortgage notes due 2017 through Rule 144A, which restricts sales to qualified institutional buyers. Proceeds will be used to repay Navios Acquisition borrowings.
Navios Acquisition said the new bond offering would be secured by its recently acquired 1.8M dwt VLCC fleet.
The acquisitions were: the 1993-built Shinyo Splendor, 1996-built Shinyo Navigator, 2000-built C Dream, 2001-built Shinyo Ocean and Shinyo Kannika, 2010-built Shinyo Saowalak and newbuilding Shinyo Kieran for 2011 delivery.
Frangou has aggressively tapped the high-yield shipping bond market since mid-2009. Her bulker entity Navios Holdings raised $400M through ship mortgage notes last November, after raising $165.2M in mandatorily convertible notes in June 2009.
Source: fairplay Daily News 01 Oct 2010

Agreement for Hellenic Shipyards signed with Thyssen Krupp Marine, Abu Dhabi Mar
--- Finance Minister George Papaconstantinou and National Defence Minister Evangelos Venizelos on Thursday signed a contract with ThyssenKrupp Marine Systems representative Hans Christoph Atzpodien and Abu Dhabi Mar representative Iskandar Safa concerning the future of Hellenic Shipyards in Skaramangas and a programme for Greek Navy submarines.
Under the contract signed on Thursday and recently ratified by Parliament 75.1 percent of the shipyards go to Abu Dhabi Mar and 24.9 percent remains with Thyssen Krupp Marine. Construction of the two Navy submarines will continue and the Greek state reserves a right of veto on changes to the shareholder composition of the shipyards and composition of its board of directors.