Greek Shipping News Cuts
Week 41 - 2010


--- * Wednesday 13 October 2010 * by Nigel Lowry
But he traced no real link between Greek country risk and shipping risk. He acknowledged that Greek banks could be struggling to maintain their previous level of support for the industry.
If anything, the shipping industry could benefit in times of lower office rentals and increasing unemployment, which offered a potential reduction in administrative costs.

John Cotzias of N.Cotzias Shipping Consultants gave us some insight into how China may well replace Greece as the largest shipping nation in the next few years. A threat? No, this is an opportunity for Greece and China, whose relation has warmed over the past week with the visit of the Chinese Prime Minister and announcement that Chinese banks will offer some $ 5 billion in financial support to Greek owners building in China, to work together and become the ultimate shipping force.
And on a completely different issue, but one becoming more and more relevant to owners, banks and all others involved in the industry, George Chalos of Chalos & Co P.C. gave an very illuminating and chilling presentation of the Criminalisation of Shipping.
Our first panel of the day started with a presentation by Klaus Stoltenberg, Global head of ship finance at NORD/LB who made it very clear that plain asset finance is out of favour and credits which include strong corporate guarantees and better still, for newbuilds, Export Credit Agency support, are more likely to be supported by the banks. Why? Because these types of credits require less equity to be set aside under the increasingly stringent Basel rules.
Our panel consisted of Ulf Andersson of Nordea Bank, Ioannis Lazaridis of Capital Product Partners, Michel Bourgery of Pyxis Holdings, Vassilis Mantzavinos of Unicredit Bank AG and Michael Bodouroglou of Paragon Shipping Inc. The consensus agreed with Klaus although there was a feeling that the market rules and as more banks come back to shipping and focus on higher quality credits, there may be some relaxation of pricing and covenants. Are we going to see a wave of liquidations? No.
Our moderators for the panel entitled Shipping and Finance: The Happy Couple were from Watson Farley Williams.
Hamish Norton of Jefferies gave a presentation on recent trends in Capital Markets and suggested we may see a couple of shipping IPOs by year end and that high yield is a potential source of capital. And Christa Tosi Volpicelli of Citi Investment Banking reminded us that shipping, as an asset class within the equity market, is but a drop in the ocean with the median market cap. of dry bulk companies about $250 million, of tanker companies about $425 million. Compare that with rail at $10 billion and offshore drillers at $ 6 billion. And McDonalds at $80 billion!
Our next panel, moderated by Mark Friedman of Evercore Partners, discussed whether in fact IPOs can create value for companies and shareholders. Mark pointed out that of all listed shipping companies the share price of only three remains above their price at listing. Despite this the panel, consisting of Stamatis Molaris of Alma Maritime Ltd, Rob Lustrin of Seward & Kissel, Christopher Georgakis of Franco Compania Naviera SA, Brett Esber of Blank Rome and Anthony Argyropoulos of Cantor Fitzgerald agreed that being public, though not always a smooth ride, has distinct advantages that enables companies to source scarce equity and take advantage of market opportunities.
Our panel of Institutional Investors, chaired by Chris Weyers of FBR Capital Markets, advised, perhaps as expected, that they want to see a focus on corporate governance, the management company in, no conflicts of interest, low(ish) leverage and not growth for the sake of growth. Interesting there was an indication that some funds may be interested in taking an investment in steel, provided the right partner and the right structure can be found.
Discussion covered pure play and mixed fleets; corporate governance and conflicts of interests; a take on the banks who in return for helping out insisted on a reduction or abandonment of dividends; NAV versus EBITDA; consolidation within the industry, less public/public because of strong egos, but public companies having the comparative advantage of being able to raise equity and take advantage of buying opportunities in the next 24 months.
The discussion did not give a suggestion of market doom and gloom, nor of wild improvement. Most likely more of the same with intermittent peaks and troughs. Who will outperform? Those who can smartly but prudently take advantage of opportunities. Regarding the newbuild book, Dale Ploughman of Seanergy was most outspoken when he called ordering ships today crazy, even if they look cheap on paper.
The conference ended with a cocktail reception hosted by International Registries. We were delighted that again Marine Money filled the room and encouraged lively debate and discussion both inside the conference room and round the coffee tables.
The 12th annual Marine Money Greek Ship Finance Forum was supported by:
Speakers Dinner Sponsor: Navios Maritime Holdings Inc.
Lunch Sponsor: Tsakos Energy Navigation Limited
Capital Party Sponsor: Capital Product Partners L.P. and Crude Carriers Corp.
Prime Sponsors: Ernst & Young S.A / Hellas * Excel Maritime Carriers Ltd. * International Registries * Jefferies & Company Inc. * Star Bulk Carriers Corp.
Corporate Sponsors: Alma Maritime Holdings * Barclays Wealth * Blank Rome * Bloomberg/London * Cantor Fitzgerald & Company * Chalos & Co * Citigroup * Credit Suisse * DnB NOR * Evercore * FBR Capital Markets & Co. * Freeseas * Globus Maritime Limited * Golden Destiny SA * NewLead Holdings Ltd. * Nord LB * Nordea * Paragon Shipping Inc. * PricewaterhouseCoopers * Seanergy Maritime Holdings Corp. * Seward & Kissel LLP * Top Ships Inc. * Watson, Farley & Williams LLP * World Oils
Source: Marine Money - Greek Office, 14 October 2010

Passenger shipping sector is looking for answers
---Urgent problems facing the Greek passenger ship sectors were discussed at an October 11 meeting between Maritime Affairs, Islands and Fisheries minister Yiannis Diamantidis and the board of the Association of Greek Passenger Shipping Companies (SEEN) headed by its president Markos Foros.
Topping the agenda was the financial dead-end in which ferry companies find themselves and the timing and content of the law easing cabotage in the cruise sector. This is a "burning" issue for SEEN as companies expect decisions on the new "rules of the game" in cruising. They want to know the terms of negotiations between the Greek state and the big cruise companies. The time the companies will have to make business decisions after the ministry's ruling will be crucial for the 2012 season, since the 2011 season is considered lost.
Diamantidis underlined the need to hold fares as low as possible, but the ferrymen argued rising fuel prices and the extra fees for third parties included in tickets have put their companies in dire financial straits with the danger ships will be laid up.
On the Adriatic lines the ferry companies asked for fair rules of competition for ships under the Greek flag.
SEEN members also fear the possible raise of taxes and argued for a lower VAT while calling for crewing regulations in line with the European Union and Imo. Aslo SEEN reps expressed their amazement at the dismantling of the Harbour Corps telling the minister "any separation of duties will be negative for the whole maritime industry".
SEEN has already expressed concern that unless something dramatic occurs, by the end of the year the five big ferry companies -- Anek Lines, Attica Group (Blue Star Ferries / Superfast Ferries), Hellenic Seaways, Minoan Lines and Nel Lines -- will be announcing losses of more than Euro 150m ($210m) for 2010.
In the first nine months of 2010 the domestic ferry fleet saw a decline in passenger movement of 4%, car liftings were down 5% and truck were down 3% on the same 2009 period, which saw a steep decline of 2008 traffic. Further, the price of fuel is now 40% more than at the same time in 2009.
Piraeus Bank has raised its stake in Greek coastal ferry giant Hellenic Seaways to about 20% after acquiring a second tranche of stock from Sea Star Capital, the Cyprus-listed vehicle controlled by John Vardinoyiannis. Sea Star, owner of 32.5% of Anek and until the latest sale, 25.4% of Hellenic Seaways, had in January sold 11.1% of Hellenic to the Piraeus Bank for Euro 34.87m. The bank is now the largest stakeholder in Hellenic, Greece's largest ferry operator.
-- Filed: 2010-10-15

Technomar splashes out $52m on five more ships
---Technomar Shipping is continuing its fleet renewal with the addition of another five ships.
While the price differential looks huge, the fact that the Swan was mothballed for the best part of a year after Procopiou acquired it would reduce the net gain on the sale. It was fixed in May to CMA CGM for 12 months at $20,000 per day.
Sources tell TradeWinds that the capacity of the Swan has been understated and that it will be able to carry around 5,400 teu.
Meanwhile, Technomar has also picked up a quartet of 1,316-teu boxships, all built in 1990. The Maersk Tangier, Maersk Trapani, Maersk Torino and Maersk Tarragona were acquired for $6m each.
In August last year, TradeWinds reported that the four ships, formerly owned by Eastwind Maritime, had been placed under the commercial and technical management of Ship Management & Commercial Service Ltd (SMS), a company allied with South American public shipowner Ultrapetrol and its US affiliate, Ravenscroft Shipping of Miami.
A spokesman for Liverpool-based Bibby Ship Management declines to discuss the deal but tells TradeWinds that it has managed and crewed the ships with Ravenscroft as the client.
Two of three ships kept by Technomar, the Maira and Nikolas, were reported fixed to Maersk Line at $13,500 per day for two years. The third, the New Yorker, went to Hapag-Lloyd for seven to eight months at $11,000 per day.
Also in June, Technomar snapped up the 2,890-teu Pisti (ex-Tara, built 1996) for $17m and in July, it took the 1,700-teu Anthea (ex-Hansa Sonderburg, built 2000).
By Gillian Whittaker Athens
Published: 20:42 GMT, 13 Oct 10 | updated: 20:42 GMT, 13 Oct 10

Seanergy sale in prospect
---The latest decision to sell shares in Seanergy by the Restis family could be a forerunner to an even larger deal
The Restis family intends to sell up to 24.76M shares in NASDAQ-listed Seanergy, substantially reducing its ownership, leading to commentators suggesting that a full sale is potentially on the cards.
After market close on 7 October, dry bulk owner Seanergy filed an SEC notice outlining the Restis offering, from which the company itself would receive no proceeds.
In addition to the share consideration, Seanergy paid Restis $3M in cash for the MCS stake.
In June Seanergy barely posted profits as first-quarter charter rates plunged. The bulk player reported a net income of just $110,000 for 1Q10, compared with $12.1M in 1Q09.
Despite an 83% capacity increase, net revenues fell by $8M. The principal reason was a 65% plummet in average TCE, from $51,831/day in 1Q09 to $18,314/day in the most recent quarter.
$28.7M value of shares Restis obtained in the MCS deal
Source: Fairplay - Trade 14 Oct 2010

Lloyd's List: Greek elite compete for award glory
--- * Wednesday 13 October 2010 * by Nigel Lowry
Nominations for 2010 awards must be in by October 29
Wide participation in the awards is the key to its status as the largest annual event in Greek shipping, the most visible sign of which is the fact that generally about 1,000 guests attend the gala dinner to see the awards presented.
The Greek Shipping Awards are also well-supported by a number of prestigious shipping organisations and a list of commercial sponsors, this year headed by ClassNK as overall event sponsor. The wide role played by Greek owners internationally is highlighted by ClassNK, which has seen Greeks grow to account for more than 10% of the tonnage under its class.
The Greek Shipping Awards is fortunate in having a star-studded jury. No other national shipping community in the world has more experience than Greeks in riding out the cycles of the shipping industry and it has been one of the tasks of our annual adjudication panels to examine their own values and weigh up the appropriate criteria to apply to nominees as the industry backdrop has shifted, sometimes quite dramatically.
Launched with the industry on an upswing in 2004, the Greek Shipping Awards have rewarded merit and achievement in both boom markets and bust. This year promises to be a fascinating one in many categories as Greek shipping appears to be emerging relatively strongly from the crisis.
It has become obvious that many players kept their powder dry during the golden years of high freights and in some cases even higher vessel prices, and only this year have re-emerged to expand their activities.
It will be little surprise if a fresh crop of individuals and companies comes into strong contention for awards in 2010, joining the band of dynamic Greek shipping superstars who are never far away from the action.
On the business front, Greek shipowners collectively have led the world this year in investment in dry bulk, tankers and containers. But growth and commitment are not the sole criteria that our judges will use to determine achievement.
While this grassroots involvement is a fundamental ingredient of the credibility the awards have acquired in the last seven years, it is also a fact that few industries can outdo Greek shipping for the entrepreneurship, character and strength in depth that are precisely the qualities needed to sustain a credible awards scheme.
Panel of Judges
Dinos Caroussis, chairman, UK P&I Club
Vera Chalkidis, president, Wista International
Leonidas Demetriades-Eugenides, president, Eugenides Foundation
Haralambos Fafalios, chairman, Greek Shipping Co-operation Committee
Gelina Harlaftis, maritime author; associate professor of maritime history, Ionian University
Vassilis Logothetis, vice-president, Hellenic Chamber of Shipping
Nicky Pappadakis, chairman, Intercargo; president, Propeller Club, International Port of Piraeus
Alex Tourkolias, president, Association of Banking & Shipping Finance Executives of Hellenic Shipping
Source: Lloyd's List