Greek Shipping News Cuts
Week 40 - 2010
---October 07, 2010
During his visit to Athens last weekend, Chinese Premier Wen Jiabao gave his backing to the Greek shipowners with the establishment of a massive USD 5 billion shipping fund to facilitate the sale of Chinese built ships to Greek shipping companies. And just two days after the announcement, three Greek shipping companies - Diana Shipping Inc., Angelicoussis Shipping Group, and Cardiff Marine have all received loans of a total USD 267.8 million from China Exim Bank and China Development Bank.
New York listed Diana Shipping described this as the beginning of a long-term relationship with China Exim Bank, after securing a USD 82.6 million 10 year term loan from the state-owned lender. Proceeds will be used to partly finance the acquisition of two 206,000 dwt dry bulk carriers, to be built at China Shipbuilding Trading Company and Shanghai Jiangnan-Changxing Shipbuilding. Ordered at USD 59 million apiece, the loan from China Exim will satisfy 70% of the total vessel cost. DnB NOR Bank served as facility agent.
A loan of USD 111 million was also extended to the Athens-based Angelicoussis Group by China Exim Bank. As one of the largest privately held shipping companies in Greece, Angelicoussis currently controls a fleet of 79 vessels comprising 29 dry bulk carriers, 43 tankers and 7 LNG/LPG carriers, and has 19 dry bulk carriers and 7 tankers on order. Meanwhile, China Development Bank provided a USD 74.2 million loan to Cardiff Marine, the private shipping arm of ship owner George Economou. The proceeds will be used to finance a VLCC newbuilding, possibly under construction at Jiangsu Rongsheng Heavy Industry. The latest financial support from China is undoubtedly music to the ears of the Greek shipping community, but one word of caution to those who are seeking cheap money. Loans from China Exim are said to be priced very much in line with the market, and due diligence can be very thorough, in exchange for loans of larger quantum and longer tenure.
China is expected to play an increasingly important role in the Greek economy. Greece has vowed to privatize at least EUR 3 billion in government assets over the next three years and COSCO is one of many Chinese companies who are already seeing opportunities in the country. COSCO operates two main container terminals at Piraeus Port and is said to be interested in adding more assets including warehouses, ship repairing yards and even a new airport to its portfolio.
Evaluating the Chinese offer
---excerpts, for full article go to: http://www.leadershiponline.co.za/articles/commerce-a-industry/887-economic-dominance
Against this broad global picture it is worth looking at the Chinese offer to Greece in a little more detail.
While Greece has the largest merchant shipping fleet in the world and some 50% of Chinese merchandise is transported in Greek ships, the deal is more about China expanding its presence in the Greek shipping industry than anything else.
While similar scenarios are unfolding on many fronts in many parts of the world, it is clear that the world is heading for a new normal in terms of economic muscle post the present international economic turmoil.
Agreements between China and Greece threaten the lead of South Korean builders
--The announcement by Chinese prime minister Wen Jiabao of a $5bn fund to support Greek shipbuilding projects at Chinese shipyards and the signing of a series of landmark ship-finance deals during his recent visit to Athens may come as a wake-up call to South Korean rivals.
For many years, Korean yards have held the lead in shipbuilding for Greek companies, especially in dwt terms, but now established Chinese facilities have plunged into larger tonnage and with the backing of the state banking system look set to attract an increasing number of orders.
Over the past 10 years, according to newbuilding experts, Greek owners have booked some 585 ships in China worth $25bn, while presently 265 vessels of $10.4bn are said to be under construction.
Comparable figures for Korean yards are not immediately available but at the end of 2009, Greek broker George Moundreas & Co estimated there were 624 outstanding newbuilding orders for Greeks totalling some 58 million dwt.
During the first state visit of a Chinese premier to Greece in 24 years, Wen and Greek prime minister George Papandreou were present at the signing of a series of agreements including three with leading shipowners.
The Angelicoussis group and Diana Shipping became the first two Greek shipping clients of the Export-Import Bank of China (China Eximbank).
With DnB NOR as facility agent and trustee, a loan for $111m was signed in connection with the construction of three mini-capesize bulkers at Shanghai Shipyard for Angelicoussis. A second loan of $82.6m was inked to finance two 206,000-dwt bulkers for Diana, with China Eximbank holding a majority interest and DnB NOR acting as agent.
Angelicoussis has a series of six 114,500-dwt bulkers on order at Shanghai Shipyard. The first is due for delivery this year, three in 2011 and the remaining pair in 2012. The loan is in connection with the three ships slated for next year.
The Greek group booked the vessels in 2007 and was said at the time to be paying $58m apiece.
The two Newcastle-max bulkers booked by Diana were inked in April this year at Shanghai Jiangnan-Changxing Shipbuilding for $59m each. They are due for delivery in 2012.
Meanwhile, George Economou of Cardiff Marine also penned a finance deal with China Development Bank, believed to be the first funding of a Greek newbuilding not involving a foreign bank.
The $74.2m loan represented close to 70% of the $107m contract price for a 296,400-dwt VLCC under construction at Shanghai Jiangnan-Changxing for delivery in 2011.
Economou also signed a framework co-operation agreement with the China Classification Society (CCS) and it is understood that the VLCC will have dual CCS and American Bureau of Shipping (ABS) class.
Blue-chip names and leading Greek owners have enthusiastically turned to the Chinese yards. In addition to the six 114,500-dwt bulkers at Shanghai Shipyard, Angelicoussis has three 206,000-dwt bulkers and a 319,000-dwt tanker on order at Shanghai Waigaoqiao Shipyard (SWS).
Procopiou has spent in excess of $2.5bn on newbuildings in China since 2005.
Chinese interest in Greece extend beyond pure shipbuilding deals. In 2009, Cosco Pacific Ltd won the concession to run container operations at Pier II of Piraeus port and to build and run Pier III.
Cosco has also expressed interest in partnering the Piraeus Port Authority in a major logistics and transhipment hub outside the capital.
By Gillian Whittaker Athens
Published: 20:00 GMT, 06 Oct 10 | updated: 20:00 GMT, 06 Oct 10
Greece Seeks India's Cooperation In Shipping
---10/6/2010 12:55 AM ET
(RTTNews) - Prime Minister of Greece George Papandreou Tuesday sought New Delhi's co-operation in the shipping sector--a key revenue-earner for the southeastern European nation.
He told Indian Vice-President Hamid Ansari, on a European visit, that his country's shipping lines could handle much of India's exports to European Union markets and help tackle Athen's debt-ridden economy.
Papandreou sought the co-operation during a meeting with Ansari on the sidelines of the Asia-Europe Meeting (AEM) underway in Belgian capital Brussels.
Latha Reddy, Secretary (East) in the Ministry of External Affairs, told reporters that the Greek leader briefed Ansari about the internal situation in his country and the two leaders also discussed the increasing incidents of pirate attacks between the Gulf of Aden and Seychelles which posed a threat to Greek shipping lines.
The Greek prime minister felt that the re-emergence of piracy was a major cause for concern for Athen's extensive shipping operations, and that the two countries could co-operate in this area, she added.
by RTT Staff Writer
--- * Thursday 07 October 2010 * by Nigel Lowry
RIGHTSHIP, the Australia-based ship vetting organisation, stands to face increased pressure from shipowners, and perhaps from industry organisations, which are unhappy with the powers it is now perceived to hold, particularly in the dry bulk market.
The owner, who said his company had never itself had cause to complain to RightShip, nevertheless said that he was concerned by the lack of access owners had to data kept on them.
Although shipowners are welcomed as members of the organisation for a fee, non-subscribers are not entitled to view information kept on them and made available to clients.
Misgivings about RightShip, which was launched by mining giants BHP Billiton and Rio Tinto in 2001, and was joined by equal one-third partner Cargill in 2006, have been kindling at a number of shipowner organisations for at least three years, but have yet to be expressed with much force.
However, that may change shortly. Looking beyond the Greek shipping community, the status of RightShip is known to be exciting discussion at BIMCO.
BIMCO officials would not elaborate on the specific concerns and made it clear that the matter, which is likely to be pursued through its marine committee if it becomes official, has yet to be committee-approved.
RightShip risk ratings do not necessarily stem from physical inspections, although these are generally carried out for ships of concern.
The online vetting system uses a computer-based algorithm to evaluate data connected to 50 different risk factors. And according to RightShip, 65% of demand for its services currently falls in the dry cargo sector.
But the ship remained flagged as a risk in the RightShip system.
Metrostar deal pressures GenMar
---GENERAL Maritime has secured a bridge loan to cover one of its Metrostar buys, slashed dividends and is considering asset sales.
After market close yesterday, the NYSE-listed tanker major said it arranged a $22.8M bridge loan from Nordea and DnB NOR to fund the purchase of Suezmax newbuild Genmar Maniate, to be delivered today.
The original terms required GenMar to sell equity by 30 September 2010 to cover 40% of the $620M price-tag, or $248M. GenMar raised $195.6M in a June follow-on. Amendments allow it to raise the remaining $52.4M through an additional follow-on offering by 30 September 2011.
Source: Fairplay Daily News 05 Oct 2010
'Prestige' judgement upsets ICS/ISF
---(Oct 4 2010)
The ICS and ISF voiced "disappointment" at a recent court decision over the bailing of the master of the 'Prestige'.
The Grand Chamber of the European Court of Human Rights recently ruled that there was no violation of human rights in 2002 when bail was set at Eur3 mill for the release of the master.
The master was indicted following the oil pollution caused by the break up of his ship off the Spanish coast.
Seafarers deserve the security of uniformity and certainty as to how their conduct and actions will be determined by local courts, based on internationally agreed standards.
Sadly, however, it seems that a change in the current political climate will be required, which will be a long term process, they continued.
A major problem the industry faces in the immediate aftermath of a serious pollution incident is that the factors at play locally are often political rather than legal.
However, the industry will continue to explain that pollution will be cleaned up and that the costs of any damage are covered, regardless of fault, by very efficient international liability regimes.
The ICS and ISF said that they would continue to lead efforts, in co-operation with other industry organisations, to press for change where national laws permit unjustified criminalisation.
Governments must be urged to recognise the supremacy of UNCLOS and MARPOL and bring national and regional laws into line with these internationally agreed standards.
Maritime administrations should also be encouraged to adopt the IMO Casualty Investigation Code into their national law and procedures.
The IMO/ILO Guidelines on the fair treatment of seafarers in the event of a maritime accident - which ICS and ISF negotiated with unions and governments in 2006 - provide guidance on standards to be applied in the aftermath of incidents including when release on bail should be granted.
Mitropoulos sees increasing role in shipping for women
---Women could help solve shipping's crew shortage problems, says Imo's Efthimios Mitropoulos. "The world needs women seafarers to solve its crew shortage problem," Imo's secretary general told the 30th Wista Conference 2010, in Athens.
Speaking of the long term need for seafarers he said the shortage could be solved if being a seafarer becomes a top-notch professional choice for young, able people.
Mitropoulos said that while there is no reason why women cannot work and take advantage of what the shipping industry offers, just 1% to 2% of seafarers are women. He said: "Since it has been projected that 2010 is a year in which there will be a big rise in transportation volume, it must be followed by an equal increase in jobs in shipping and I hope women will get their share from this development. Shipping does not have the luxury of being able to exclude the vast female workforce either from the administrative sector or the seafaring sector."
Mitropoulos admitted that by having smaller crews of 12 to 15 seafarers it is understandable that work demands are huge and the ship can become a very lonely place for someone off duty, but he says the seafarers' profession is not only rewarding as a job, as it is also a passport to many important choices on land.
The impression shipping is a totally male sector is starting to be refuted as Wista brings more women into the shipping industry and it must be recognised for that. Imo, as part of the UN, has a long history in protecting women in the shipping sector and equality is a basic human right, "but there are still many more battles to be won", said the Imo secretary general.
Mitropoulos applauded Wista's dedication to excellence, knowledge and education. His support to Wista goes back many years, as he was a speaker at the 1996 conference, also hosted by Wista Hellas and held in Athens.
Norwegian shipowner Elisabeth Grieg, called on the maritime industry to accept the need for tough regulations to achieve sustainability, in sharp contrast to critics who warn that such moves could hamper international trade. "We still have a long way to go before our industry actually does its relative part in creating a sustainable future -- both environmentally and socially," said Grieg, ceo of Grieg International and chairman of the Grieg Shipping Group.
"While some [people] focus on the burdens of rules and regulations, my message is that we cannot do without rules and regulations. In fact, our industry should encourage rules and regulations to force all players to adhere to some basic standards and to punish those that do not," declared Grieg during a Wista debate.
Grieg said: "I sincerely believe the shipping industry is one of the cornerstones in the infrastructure of the global community. Through exploration, production and transportation our business is essential in providing energy to a growing world market."
"We must recognise national, regional and global regulations are justified by the absence of desired performance across the industry. There might of course from time to time be more opportunistic reasons for political interference, but there are numerous examples of areas in grave need of regulations and rules. It is - at best - a paradox that so many companies in an industry with the long-term perspectives of international shipping are making so many business decisions based on short-term considerations," she said.
Dorothea Ioannou, gm of Shipowners Claims Bureau (Hellas), said teamwork was essential in promoting safety. She said all clubs within the IG P&I group have a condition survey programme whereby entered vessels over a certain age are required to undergo such a survey to assess the status of onboard safety as a result of the vessel's condition and shipboard operations. Condition surveys, she said, enable evaluation and recommendations not only applying to the structural integrity/seaworthiness and cargo worthiness of the vessel, but also to the ability of the crew to man and operate it in a proper manner.
Another very important aid to safe operation of ships was the PEME (Pre-Employment Medical Examination) programme, now commonly carried out by clubs.
-- Filed: 2010-10-05
Greece's Port Thessaloniki Targets Bulgarian Companies
---October 6, 2010, Wednesday
Greece's Aegean Port Thessaloniki has announced a campaign to lure more Bulgarian businesses to use its services.
Stylianos Aggeloudis, Chairman and CEO, of Thessaloniki Port Authority, presented in Bulgaria's capital Sofia Wednesday the vision that one of the major Greek ports has for attracting Bulgarian traders as well as for integrating the sea and railway transport services of Bulgaria and Greece.
"Our new more competitive services should help Bulgarian companies realize that Port Thessaloniki can be one of their ports as well," Aggeloudis told journalists in Sofia before meeting with representatives of the major Bulgarian business organizations.
In his words, Bulgaria ranks fourth among the users of Port Thessaloniki after Greece, Macedonia, and Serbia in terms the volume of cargo and goods.
Aggeloudis explicitly emphasized that Wednesday's meetings and news conference in Sofia were in fact the first such step by the Thessaloniki Port Authority designed to promote its services among Bulgarian businessmen.
He did mention several rather novel ideas such as the readiness of the Thessaloniki Port Authority to support combined modes of transportation including Port Thessaloniki and the Bulgarian Black Sea ports Varna and Burgas plus the railway connections between them, as well as the construction of smaller and larger logistics centers in Bulgaria to support such transit.
However, the representatives of Port Thessaloniki failed to provide any specificity making it clear that the suggestions to integrate the Greek and Bulgarian ports and railway networks in a more coherent manner still remained only in the realm of general ideas.
The development of Port Thessaloniki presupposes development of the Pan-European Transport Corridors 4 and 10, which pass through Bulgaria, including by linking the Danube River and the Mediterranean. The importance of these routes was underscored by the port representatives even though no specific pro-active steps were outline.
Stylianos pointed out that in his view Thessaloniki, which is the largest transit port in the Balkans, and Bulgaria's Varna and Burgas on the Black Sea were not competitors.
He believes that Bulgarian companies should use whichever port is closest to them and provides more competitive prices rather than stick with the ports of their own nation by default; he vowed that he would advise Greek companies to do the same, should Bulgarian ports present better conditions.
Port Thessaloniki is expanding its capacity with additional facilities on an area of 550 000 square meters worth EUR 240 M; part of the funds for the expansion will be provided by the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development.
In 2009, Port Thessaloniki serviced 14.4 million tonnes of cargo, including 270 000 containers and 3.5 million tonnes of bulk cargoes. About 7 000 of the containers were destined to and from Bulgaria.
Even though the volume of Bulgarian trade through the port almost doubled in the first eight months of 2010 year-on-year, it is still far from the 30 000 Bulgaria-destined containers serviced in 2007.
According to Aggeloudis, the Bulgarian companies turned away from Port Thessaloniki in 2007-2008 as a result of a strike of the port workers protesting against an unsuccessful privatization agreement.
Port Thessaloniki is located on an area of 1.55 million square meters, and includes logistics facilities with an area 600 000. The expansion of the port will include 150 000 square meters of new logistics facilities.
Thessaloniki Port Authority SA has a capital of EUR 124 M; the Greek government has a 74.27% stake in it.