Greek Shipping News Cuts
Week 44 - 2005

 

Kefaloyiannis steps-in to keep ferry services running

---Greece's domestic ferry fleet is currently on 'extraordinary status'.
Marine minister Manolis Kefaloyiannis was forced to apply the 'status' when the operators refused to provide the full documentation necessary for ships to sail.
The minister acted after the Harbour Corps said it was ready to bring the domestic network to a halt because operational documentation was incomplete by November 1, the date by which ferry companies provide the ministry with the necessary documentation to re-new their ship operating licences for the next year.
The Union of Coastal Passengership Owners said its members would not provide three key documents: a guarantee they will operate services; a price-list for economic class fares; and a declaration of assurance the ports they approach will not present any problems for their vessels.
Ferry operators and the ministry have been arguing over documentation for years and in recent months the issue has fested as owners maintain ministry demands not only infringe on Europoean Union law on free competition, but are unreasonable, especially in the winter months when weather is bad, few people are travelling and many of the ports of call are unable to handle the larger ships now in service.
The 'extraordinary status' is invoked in an emergency situation and ships are required to service a route for which they are not licenced. A vessel breakdown or times of peak travel are usually the occasions when the minister makes an exception and allows a change of ship or an additional ship to service a route for a specific period.
Gerassimos Strintzis, md of Hellenic Seaways, maintains the service guarantees and requirement that owners declare the ports they approach will not present any problems for their vessels enables the state to put all the burden on the shipowner. Strintzis contends :"The framework under which vessels operate has to be updated. Today's vessels are modern and expensive. The ministry wants owners to sign a declaration that the vessel will have no problem calling at ports along the route. Many of these ports have poor infrastructure and ships are damaged because of this. The state simply wants to avoid all responsibility for damages to ship and port installations."
This issue has been under discussion for years but the shipowners say nothing has been done and, in fact, in many cases the situation has got worse.
Source: www.newsfront.gr, Issue nr. 41 (4 November 2005)


Greece supports the course of the Black Sea countries to Europe
---Greece, being the only country that is a member of the EU and at the same time a member of the Black Sea Economic Cooperation (BSEC), is fully aware of the fact that economic development and cooperation are necessary preconditions for security, stability and peace.
Mr. Georgiou reminded that Greece made a great effort toward this direction when it recently held the BSEC Presidency while at the same time it dynamically supports the EU good neighborly relations policy with the Black Sea countries.
Source: http://www.mpa.gr, Sofia, 3 November 2005 (18:38 UTC+2)


Sarlis blames MSC contract for downfall
---Sarlis Container Services of Greece and its sister agency company Sarlis & Angelopoulos have filed for bankruptcy in the Piraeus courts, claiming they have been destroyed by unfair competition.
In a company announcement, Sarlis directly blames a huge contract between the Piraeus Port Authority and Mediterranean Shipping Co (MSC) for its downfall. It says the deal has offered MSC competitive advantages of time and cost of services that have essentially forced the Sarlis companies out of the market.
Sarlis says it lodged a complaint with the competition committee in May 2004 and is awaiting a hearing.
At its peak, Sarlis controlled 12 ships and, according to the company, brought in $25m per year, but Michael Sarlis tells TradeWinds that the few ships it had been operating in the past couple of years were chartered-in tonnage. Owned vessels were disposed of and the proceeds used to finance the continued operation of the companies, he says.
Ironically, MSC bought three 1,438-teu ships from Sarlis in February 2004 for a reported $5m each. Sarlis acquired the vessels 18 months earlier for $3m each.
Sarlis says it explored ways to keep the companies going, including co-operation with third parties, internal reorganisation, cost-cutting and borrowing funds. "It proved impossible to carry out some of these, while those that were applied were insufficient to halt the downward process," the announcement said.
Source: www.tradewinds.no, Gillian Whittaker Athens, published: 04 November 2005


Greek container shipping group plans a London listing.
---A company with a fleet of bulk and container ships will today announce plans to become the first Greek shipowner listed on the main London Stock Exchange.
Athens-based Goldenport Holding is making the move as the exchange looks set to lose P&O, one of its longest-standing shipping line members.
The company's chairman is to be Chris Walton - who was finance director of EasyJet, the budget airline, when it listed in 2000. The chief executive is Paris Dragnis, a master mariner who has run ship-owning companies for 30 years.
The announcement is the latest of a series this year by owners from Greece - the world's leading ship-owning country - of intentions to float on foreign exchanges.
Greek shipping lines avoid the Athens stock exchange because companies listed there must pay standard Greek corporate tax. Shipowners generally register their ships and companies to pay tax rates well below standard corporate tax.
However, most listings so far have been on the New York Stock Exchange or Nasdaq.
Mr Dragnis said yesterday that he had chosen London over New York because it was the leading European stock exchange and because of London's substantial maritime knowledge base.
The only other Greece-based shipowner listed on a London market is Global Oceanic Carriers, which is listed on the small-cap Aim market.
Goldenport Holding is thought likely to aim for a market capitalisation between Dollars 340m (Pounds 193m) and Dollars 390m and raise about Pounds 80m in fresh capital to pay off debt and add to the existing fleet of 17 dry bulk and container ships.
The Dragnis family, which currently owns all the shares, have no plans to sell any. It is not known how high a proportion of the shares the family will control after the listing.
In line with some other recent shipping listings, the company also plans to pay out a high proportion of profits in dividends - 50 per cent in Goldenport's case.
Goldenport achieved net income of Dollars 22.6m on revenue of Dollars 42.5m in the six months to June 30 and will say it expects trading in the second half to be similar.
Source: By ROBERT WRIGHT, 2 November 2005, Financial Times London


Greek ports, say Merchant Marine Ministry sources, by making the most of funding for development and infrastructure provided by the European Investment Bank, reaching 3 billion euros, could turn into the biggest transport centers in the eastern Mediterranean and serve ships carrying goods to the broader region.
Source: http://www.ekathimerini.com, 2 Nov 2005, NIKOS BARDOUNIAS


We are not for sale, insists Eletson
---BLUE chip product tanker operator Eletson has declared that it is not for sale as it responded to being at the centre of furious takeover speculation this week.
General Maritime was mentioned as another candidate that might be poised to swoop for the Greek carrier, which has a high-class fleet of 25 handymax, panamax and aframax vessels.
OMI, a conservative enterprise buoyed by selective vessel sales and share buybacks, is always considered a serious contender in quality tanker merger deals.
General Maritime, on the other hand, is poised to clean out its single-hull fleet for a total $450m, a development that could be tied in with expansive ambitions.
Overseas Shipholding Group has also been mentioned as an interested party.
At the same time, it is understood that at least one US-listed shipping group has discussed the possibility of buying the company recently. There appears little evidence at this stage that the talks were solicited or got anywhere.
Eletson is a privately held company, although in 1993 it completed a $140m bond offering of ship mortgage notes in the US.
In recent years the company has suffered the death of two of its four founding partners. However, there has been a seamless succession by a younger generation.
Source: www.lloydslist.com, By Nigel Lowly and Rajesh Joshi- Friday November 04 2005


Diana Shipping Inc. Announces Two Vessel Acquisitions
---Diana Shipping Inc. (NYSE: DSX), a global shipping transportation company specializing in dry bulk cargoes, today announced that it has agreed to purchase two Panamax dry bulk carriers, the sister vessels M/V CMB Philippe and Hull H1307A. The M/V CMB Philippe of 74,500 dwt, built by Hudong Shipyard in August 2004, has a purchase price of $39.0 million and is expected to be delivered in November 2005. Hull No.H1307A of 74,500 dwt, currently under construction by Hudong Shipyard, has a purchase price of $42.0 million and is expected to be delivered in March 2006. The vessels will be chartered to Bocimar International nv, Antwerp, Belgium, for 11 to 13 months at $21,000 per day gross, commencing from their respective dates of delivery to Diana Shipping Inc.
Upon completion of these purchases, as well as the previously announced acquisition of the Panamax dry bulk carrier M/V Bolina (to be renamed Thetis), the Company's fleet will consist of 12 Panamax dry bulk carriers and one Capesize dry bulk carrier. Based on these acquisitions and their delivery schedules, the Company's fixed employment coverage for 2006 will increase to 44% from 30%. The expected time charter equivalent rate of the vessels with fixed employment will average approximately $27,000 gross per day.
Corporate Contact: Ioannis Zafirakis, Director and Vice- President, +30-210-9470100, [email protected]; or Investor and Media Relations: Edward Nebb of Euro RSCG Magnet, +1-212-367-6848, [email protected]
Source: www.dianashippinginc.com


General Maritime Announces Sale of Seven Aframax Tankers
---General Maritime Corporation today announced that it has agreed to sell six double-sided Aframax tankers en bloc to Seatankers Management Co. Ltd., Cyprus for $127.5 million. The Company also announced that it has agreed to sell the Genmar Commander, a 1989-built single-hull Aframax vessel, to Polembros of Greece for $18.5 million. The Company expects to realize a net gain of $22.5 million from the sales. The Company intends to utilize the proceeds to pay down debt and for corporate purposes which may include share repurchases; therefore the proceeds will be excluded in the calculation of the dividend for the applicable quarters. Deliveries of the six double-sided vessels are expected to take place from November 2005 thru January 2006. Delivery of the Genmar Commander is expected to take place late November 2005.
Peter C. Georgiopoulos, Chairman, Chief Executive Officer and President, commented, "We are pleased to have sold our last single-hull and double-sided vessels and have once again acted opportunistically thereby modernizing the Company's fleet and creating shareholder value. In a little over six weeks the company has transformed itself into a more modern fully double hull company with over a billion dollars in liquidity. The Company has substantially strengthened it balance sheet, which it intends to draw upon to create future shareholder value. In addition to pursuing opportunities to expand our fleet, we will also consider other value-creating transactions such as stock buybacks. At the same time, we intend to continue to provide shareholders with the opportunity to receive a cash dividend."
Following completion of the recently-announced sales of 17 vessels and including the four Suezmax newbuildings to be delivered between 2006 and 2008, the average age of General Maritime's fleet will be reduced to 9 years, and its entire fleet will be double-hull.
Vessels to be Sold Vessel Hull Built Type Genmar Spartiate SH September 1991 Suezmax Genmar Zoe SH May 1991 Suezmax Genmar Macedon SH June 1990 Suezmax Genmar Alta SH March 1990 Suezmax Genmar Commander SH June 1989 Suezmax Genmar Conqueror DS February 1993 Suezmax Genmar Honour DS June 1992 Suezmax Genmar Ariston DS January 1989 Suezmax Genmar Prometheus DS January 1988 Suezmax Genmar Kestrel DS January 1988 Suezmax Genmar Sky DS January 1988 Suezmax Genmar Commander SH June 1989 Aframax Genmar Leonidas DS January 1991 Aframax Genmar Gabriel DS March 1990 Aframax Genmar Nestor DS January 1990 Aframax Genmar George DS August 1989 Aframax Genmar Sun DS March 1985 Aframax Genmar Boss DS January 1985 Aframax About General Maritime Corporation
General Maritime Corporation is a provider of international seaborne crude oil transportation services principally within the Atlantic basin which includes ports in the Caribbean, South and Central America, the United States, West Africa, the Mediterranean, Europe and the North Sea. We also currently operate tankers in other regions including the Black Sea and Far East. General Maritime Corporation currently owns and operates a fleet of 47 tankers -- 26 Aframax, 17 Suezmax tankers and 4 Suezmax newbuilding contracts -- making it the second largest mid-sized tanker company in the world, with a carrying capacity of approximately 5.9 million dwt. Following the completion of the sale of 17 vessels, General Maritime will own and operate a fleet of 30 tankers -- 19 Aframax tankers, 7 Suezmax tankers and four Suezmax newbuildings.
Source: http://finanzen.net, 03.11.2005 22:22:00, NEW YORK, Nov. 3 /PRNewswire-FirstCall


Navios Maritime Holdings Inc. Announces Enlargement of Its BoD
---Navios Maritime Holdings Inc ("Navios") (BULLETIN BOARD: NMHUF, NMHIF, NMHWF) today announced that it has added three new members to its Board of Directors. The new members, who joined its Board as of October 25, 2005, include Allan L. Shaw, Rex Harrington and Robert Shaw (no relation to Allan). Navios also announced the resignation of Mr. Julian David Brynteson, who previously served on the Company's Board of Directors. The existing members of the Board are Angeliki Frangou, Vasiliki Papaefthymiou, Spyridon Magoulas and John Stratakis. The addition of the new Board members brings the total number of Board members to seven, including four who are fully independent.
Angeliki Frangou, Chairman and CEO of Navios commented, "I'm very pleased that Allan, Rex and Robert are joining our Board. They all bring with them impressive backgrounds and an intimate knowledge of the shipping and financial industries. Maintaining a strong Board of Directors will help guide Navios through this period of growth and I look forward to working with all of them."
Ms. Frangou continued, "We thank Julian for his service as part of the Board since September 2004. We wish him the best of luck in his endeavors."
Mr. Allan L. Shaw has almost 20 years of financial management experience, having most recently worked as Chief Financial Officer and Executive Management Board Member at Serono International S.A., the third largest biotechnology company in the world. Prior to joining Serono, Mr. Shaw was with Viatel Inc., an international telecommunications company, where he was a member of the Board of Directors and Chief Financial Officer, and Deloitte & Touche, where he was a manager. Mr. Shaw will be an independent director and will be the Chairman of the Audit Committee.
Mr. Rex Harrington was previously the director of shipping at The Royal Bank of Scotland where he had responsibility for its extensive shipping portfolio. He currently sits on the Board of General Maritime Corporation and A/S Dampskibsselskabet TORM. He is also a Deputy Chairman of the International Maritime Industries Forum, a member of the InterCargo advisory panel, the General Committee of Lloyds Register of Shipping, the Steering Committee of the London Shipping Law Centre, The Baltic Exchange, and the Worshipful Company of Shipwrights - Liveryman. He was previously a director of Lloyds Register of Shipping and Clarksons plc, an international shipbroker. He will also be an independent director, a member of the Audit Committee, and the Chairman of the Governance and Nominating Committee.
Mr. Robert Shaw is the current president of Navios. Prior to his role as president, Mr. Shaw was the Executive Vice President, General Counsel and a director of Navios since January 2001. Prior to joining Navios, Mr. Shaw practiced maritime and corporate law at the law firm of Healy & Baillie, LLP. He is the US representative member of the Documentary Committee of the Baltic and International Council and is a former President of the Hellenic American Chamber of Commerce.
Source: PIRAEUS, Greece, Nov. 1 /PRNewswire-FirstCall/ --


Navios Maritime Holdings Inc. Begins Trading on NASDAQ's
---Navios Maritime Holdings Inc ("Navios") (Nasdaq: BULKU, BULK, BULKW), one of the leading global brands in seaborne dry bulk shipping, announced today the completion of its move to the NASDAQ's National Market System and the commencement of trading for its common stock, warrants and units. The trading symbols are as follows:
Units: BULKU
Common Stock: BULK
Warrants: BULKW
Ms. Angeliki Frangou, the Chairman and Chief Executive Officer of Navios, commented: "This is a very important day for our Company. We believe that the NASDAQ listing will widen our audience of investors, provide additional liquidity for our stock, and afford our Company a fair and equitable marketplace for the trading of our shares. We look forward to working with the NASDAQ and leveraging the benefits that our listing will provide."
Bob Greifeld, President and Chief Executive Officer of NASDAQ commented: "We are very pleased to be welcoming Navios to our family of NASDAQ-listed companies. NASDAQ is highly committed to the shipping industry and we greatly look forward to working closely with Navios and its management."
Source: PIRAEUS, Greece, Nov. 3 /PRNewswire-FirstCall/ --


StealthGaz Inc. Announces Delivery of "Gas Marathon"
---STEALTHGAS INC. (NASDAQ: GASS) today announced that it has taken delivery of "Gas Marathon," a vessel which it had previously agreed to acquire.
"Gas Marathon" is a Fully Pressurized (F.P.) LPG carrier built in Japan in 1995 with a capacity of 6,550 cubic meters (cbm). It is deployed under a bareboat charter to a gas trader terminating around October 2007.
"Gas Marathon" is one of the ten identified vessels which STEALTHGAS intended to acquire as outlined in the company's IPO Prospectus. As outlined therein, STEALTHGAS anticipates taking delivery of a further four vessels by the end of November 2005, followed by the "Gas Eternity" in February 2006.
To view fleet development and deployment as of today, please visit: http://www.irwebpage.com/stealthgas/index.html?irp=pr2&relid=36845
Source: http://www.stealthgas.com, ATHENS, GREECE -- (MARKET WIRE) -- 11/02/2005


Quintana Maritime Limited Reports year-to-date Results
---ATHENS, GREECE -- (ENP Newswire) -- 11/02/05 -- Quintana Maritime Limited (NASDAQ: QMAR)today announced operating results for the third quarter of 2005 and for the year to date, from inception to September 30, 2005. The Company was incorporated on January 13, 2005 and commenced operations on April 12,2005.
Third Quarter 2005 and Year-to-Date Results:
For the third quarter of 2005, the Company reported net income of $203,725,or $0.01 per diluted share, on net time-charter revenues of $13.0 million,based on the weighted average of 19,627,598 diluted shares outstanding forthe period. Adjusted EBITDA for the quarter was $8.7 million. An averageof 6.7 vessels were owned and operated in the third quarter, and all weredeployed on time charters, earning an average time-charter-equivalent rateof approximately $22,092 per day.
Year to date, the Company reported net income of $791,054, or $0.07 perdiluted share on net time-charter revenues of $20.0 million, based on theweighted average of 11,010,472 diluted shares outstanding for the period.Adjusted EBITDA for the year to date was $13.1 million. There were norevenues in the first quarter of 2005.
The results for the quarter include non-cash expenses of $3.3 million,which include a $3.2 million expense of unamortized loan-financing costsrelated to the early extinguishment of a portion of the term-loan facilityand a provision of $0.1 million for the restricted-stock portion ofdeferred stock-based compensation for the Company's employees anddirectors. Excluding these charges, the Company would have reported netincome of $3.5 million, or $0.18 per diluted share, for the third quarterand net income of $4.1 million, or $0.37 per diluted share, for the year todate. The non-cash expense of $3.2 million represents the portion ofunamortized loan-financing costs attributable to the portion of the fleetthat had been delivered by the end of the third quarter. The Company willtake the remaining non-cash charge of $1.5 million in the fourth quarter,relating to the remaining three ships financed under the terminatedterm-loan facility and delivered in the fourth quarter of 2005.
Stamatis Molaris, President and Chief Executive Officer of QuintanaMaritime Limited, commented, "This quarter's results exemplify Quintana'sability to deliver on its intended growth strategy and were in line withour revenue expectations. Net revenues increased by $6.0 million, or 86%over the previous quarter's $7.0 million, and adjusted EBITDA increased by$4.2 million, or 91% over the previous quarter's $4.6 million."
Mr. Molaris continued, "While our third-quarter revenue gains wereimpressive with an average of 6.7 vessels contributing to revenues,Quintana's fourth-quarter operations will include revenues from all eightPanamax vessels for the full quarter and partial revenues from our newlyacquired Capesize vessels. Furthermore, the Company booked all remainingthird-party management fees due under its contract in the third quarter of2005 and has brought technical and commercial management of the remainingthird-party-managed vessel in-house in the fourth quarter."
During the third quarter of 2005, Quintana took delivery of three Panamaxvessels to expand its Panamax fleet to eight vessels and entered intoagreements to purchase two Capesize bulk carriers of 165,500 dwt each. Theacquisitions expanded the Company's cargo-carrying capacity by 331,000 dwt,or 56.6%. Quintana took delivery of the first Capesize vessel on October18, 2005 and expects to take delivery of the other in mid-November.
The following key indicators highlight the Company's financial andoperating performance during the third quarter of 2005:
Mr. Molaris, added, "Quintana will continue to seek out opportunities toexpand its fleet. We are particularly excited to build a presence in theCapesize market which is consistent with our strategy to focus on largerdry-bulk carriers. The acquisition of the Capesize vessels positionsQuintana for continued growth and profitability while also enabling theCompany to provide its valued customers with one of the most modern fleetsin the dry-bulk industry."
Time Charter Coverage.
Taking into consideration the entire fleet of 10 vessels and the expectedoperating days of the vessels after delivery, we estimate that just over82.3% of the fleet's net operating days for the fourth quarter of 2005 and54.2% of the fleet's net operating days for 2006 are currently secured,equivalent to $16.2 million and $47.8 million in revenues, respectively.For 2007, 50.1% of the fleet's net operating days have already beensecured, equivalent to $44.3 million. (Please refer to relevant tablebelow, which only reflects current charters and does not include the timecharter on Barbara, which is subject to variable rates tied to rates in thespot market.)
Dividend
At its meeting yesterday, the Board of Directors of Quintana declared adividend of $0.20 per share, payable on November 22, 2005 to allshareholders of record as of November 11, 2005. This represents 65% of ournet free cash flow of $0.31 per share for the third quarter of 2005, afteraccrued interest and dry docking expenditures. The balance of our net freecash flow will be used to pay down our revolving credit facility.
Paul J. Cornell, Quintana's Chief Financial Officer, commented, "On October4, 2005, the Company entered into an 8-year, secured, $250 millionrevolving credit facility replacing the previously existing term-loanfacility. The new facility has more competitive terms than the prior one,affords Quintana significantly more flexibility in its borrowings andpermits it to increase the size of the facility by up to $50 million, foran aggregate size of up to $300 million. In general, this new facilityenables us to fund vessel acquisitions and to borrow for working capitalpurposes and general corporate requirements at favorable terms.Additionally, we are pleased to declare our second dividend in this fiscalyear."
Vice President - Investor Relations
Mark A. Kahil has joined Quintana Maritime as Vice President of InvestorRelations. Mr. Kahil brings to Quintana more than 15 years of strategicinvestor relations experience, including broad investor relations roles indiverse industries ranging from small to large market capitalization withlistings on NASDAQ, AMEX and NYSE. Most recently Mr. Kahil held theposition of Senior Director of Investor Relations for King Pharmaceuticals;prior assignments include Director of Investor Relations and CorporateAffairs for Sterling Chemicals and Manager of Investor Relations with twooil and gas companies. Mr. Kahil began his tenure in investor relationswhile serving as Vice President of an investor relations firm, where headvised over 60 publicly traded companies on various investor relationsstrategies. From 1999-2000 Mr. Kahil served as President of the HoustonChapter of the National Investor Relations Institute after serving on theBoard for several years prior. Mr. Kahil received a BBA from Sam HoustonState University in 1986 and an MBA from Jones International University in2003.
Mr. Molaris commented: "We strive to maximize shareholder value not onlythrough the quality of our shipping operations but also through the qualityof our corporate governance and investor relations practices. Given hisbackground and expertise, Mark's addition to our team will significantlyenhance our investor relations efforts."
Conference Call and Webcast:
As already announced, today, Wednesday, November 2, 2005 at 10:00 A.M. EST,the company's management will host a conference call to discuss theresults.
Conference Call details: Participants should dial into the call 10 minutesbefore the scheduled time using the following numbers: 1.866.819.7111(fromthe US), 0800 953 0329 (from the UK) or +44(0)1452 542 301 (from outsidethe US). Please quote "Quintana."
In case of any problem with the above numbers, please dial 1.866.869.2352(from the US),0800 694 1449 (from the UK) or + 44 (0) 1452 560 304 (from outside the US).Quote "Quintana."
A telephonic replay of the conference call will be available until November9, 2005 by dialing 1.866.247.4222 (from the US), 0800 953 1533 (from theUK) or + 44(0) 1452 550 000 (from outside the US). Access Code: 1859591#.
Slides and audio webcast: There will also be a live, and then archived,webcast of the conference call, through Quintana Maritime's website(www.quintanamaritime.com ). Participants to the live webcast shouldregister on the website approximately 10 minutes prior to the start of thewebcast.
ABOUT QUINTANA MARITIME LIMITED
The company was incorporated in the Marshall Islands on January 13, 2005and began operations on April 12, 2005. The initial public offering wascompleted on July 14, 2005. Quintana Maritime Limited, based in Greece, isan international provider of dry bulk cargo marine transportation services.The company currently owns and operates a fleet of eight Panamax vesselsand one Capesize vessel with a total carrying capacity of 750,572 dwt andan average age of approximately 7.6 years. It has also entered into anagreement to acquire one additional Capesize vessel, which, upon delivery,will increase the size of its fleet to 10 vessels with a total carryingcapacity of 916,072 dwt and an average age of 7.2 years.
Source: Press Release Date - 02112005


Pistiolis goes for ships rather than mergers
---Top Tankers, the US-listed but Greek-based Suezmax and Handymax tanker owner, has bought three Suezmaxes, all built in mid-1990s, from First Olsen Tankers in Norway.
Top Tankers has taken delivery of a 1993-built Suezmax that is the first in the series due for delivery before the end of the year.
The company raised $135.1M in an initial public offering on Nasdaq in July last year and began a programme of aggressive growth.
After the IPO, it acquired 10 ships, then in November Top raised a further $148.1M and bought five more ships. In the course of this year, Top has sold its remaining three single-hull vessels and acquired six vessels by October.
In a further deal, it sold five Handymax vessels, leased them back, then sold a Suezmax for good.
In 14 months, its fleet had grown from seven to 24 vessels. With 14 Handymaxes and 10 Suezmaxes, it is the largest and fourth-largest operator in the respective sectors.
Top bases its strategy on return-driven acquisitions of ships, limiting overall indebtedness and balancing employment of vessels between spot market and period charters.
Six of its 10 Suezmaxes traded spot in October, while three are fixed until the end of 2007 at $28,000 a day. If spot rates rise above this, Top will receive the full benefit for the first $7,000 increase and then share half of the excess with the charterer.
A similar arrangement involves a Suezmax whose charter runs until 2010, plus all of the 14 Handymax vessels that are fixed on charters that run up to mid-2010.
Top will pay total dividends of $2.18 a share this year, which should correspond with a dividend yield of seven per cent, Pistiolis said in a presentation last month.
The rapid growth has increased long-term debt to $414.2M at the end of June from $175.3M six months earlier, while equity rose only to $340.2M, from $321.8M.
It will be interesting to see how Top balances growth of its business and a shareholder-friendly dividend policy: the period charter arrangements protect it in a weak market that allows the management more breathing space than full exposure to the spot market.
On the other hand, if the Handysize fleet earns $30,000 a day and the Suezmaxes $50,000 on average in 2006, the upside of the contracts would add about $170M to EBITDA, Top officials said in a presentation last month.
Better to acquire sister ships
So far, Pistiolis has favoured growth through acquiring ships, with sister vessels preferred because this generates a more uniform fleet. As far as corporate acquisitions are concerned, Pistiolis tells Fairplay that such deals are a complex affair.
COMPANY PROFILE:
Full company name: Top Tankers Inc
Domicile: Marshall Islands
Headquarters: Athens, Greece
Established: 2000
Listed: Nasdaq (ticker code TOPT.N)
Share price: $12.95 on 26 October, 52-week high $24.14; low $11.24
Latest financial result: 2Q05 net profits $13.5M vs $5.7M year on year
Source: www.fairplay.co.uk, Fairplay International Shipping Weekly, 03 Nov 2005


TEN reports $0.98 EPS for the third quarter of 2005
---Tsakos Energy Navigation Limited (TEN) (NYSE: TNP) today reported management results (unaudited) for the first nine months and the third quarter of 2005.
Net income was $100.92 million for the first nine months of 2005 as compared with $89.02 million for the first three quarters of 2004. Basic earnings per share based on average number of shares outstanding rose to $5.06 in the 2005 period as against $4.77 in the first nine months of 2004. Net revenues for the first nine months of 2005 were $198.03 million compared to $215.03 million for the like period of 2004. Income before depreciation charges was $127.55 million for the 2005 period versus $115.54 million for the first nine months of 2004.
Notable positive comparisons for the first nine months of 2005 versus the like period of 2004 included: significantly lower amortization of deferred charges due to vessel sales; lower financing costs and much higher interest income; and gains from vessel sales which totalled $24.81 million in the first three quarters of 2005 as compared with $8.76 million in the like period of 2004. The net results were record compared with the previous record of $89.02 million during the same period in 2004.
The principal factors contributing to the lower revenues were a smaller fleet of 26.3 ships versus 27.4, lower charter rates for VLCCs and aframaxes only partially offset by higher rates for other vessel sizes, and lower utilization rate of 95.6% as compared with 97.4% in the 2004 period. Per vessel expenses, both operations and overhead increased 5.7% reflecting higher crew costs, increased insurance rates, general corporate governance and investor relations expenses, as well as the effect of the dollar's depreciation against the Euro (average of 3.0% for the first nine months of 2005 versus the like period of 2004).
Net income in the most recent quarter was $19.17 million as against $25.47 million in the third quarter of 2004. Earnings per share (basic) based on average number of shares outstanding were $0.98 as compared with $1.26. Net revenues for the third quarter of 2005 were $61.39 million compared to $71.84 million for the third quarter of 2004. Income before depreciation charges was $28.37 million in the third quarter of 2005 versus $34.39 million for the same period of 2004.
The principal factors contributing to lower revenues were a smaller fleet of 25.9 versus 27.0 vessels; lower charter rates for VLCC's and aframaxes, which were only partially offset by higher rates for suezmaxes and product carriers; a somewhat lower fleet utilization rate of 95.6% versus 97.8% associated with dry dockings; and unusually frequent and extended periods at demurrage rates in the Venezuela-Houston trade route. Per vessel expenses including both operations and overhead rose a modest 1.7% reflecting higher crew costs and insurance rates along with corporate governance expenses. Higher depreciation was more than offset by lower amortization of deferred charges and management fees. Significantly lower finance costs and much higher interest income contributed to the net income.
"Profits of the first nine months of 2005 reconfirmed the efficacy of TEN's corporate strategy and business plan" observed Mr. D. John Stavropoulos, Chairman of the Board. "The record results were achieved within the context of a young and growing fleet. These exceptional results have funded a new building program, increased dividends, expanded the share repurchase program, and strengthened the balance sheet."
FLEET EXPANSION
TEN continues to aggressively modernize, broaden and expand its fleet.
Since 1997, TEN has taken delivery of 22 new buildings and one second-hand VLCC. An additional eleven vessels are on order for scheduled delivery by August 2007. During 2004 and 2005 TEN has sold three single hull tankers, leaving only one remaining in the fleet and two single/double hull vessels with two remaining in the fleet.
Mr. Nikolas P. Tsakos, President and CEO of TEN observed, "Our expansion program is on track. We will expand our fleet by over 40% during the next seven quarters. The principal focus on our new building program is additions to our ice-class fleet (eight 1A Ice-Class ships -- 4 Suezmaxes and 4 Product Carriers) complemented by 2 Aframaxes and our first LNG carrier. In the interim, if market conditions are ripe, we will attain our goal of an all double hull fleet".
Mr. Tsakos added, "We have achieved our fleet renewal goals to this point, and at the same time realized capital gains of approximately $64 million. We consider a productive purchases and sales strategy an integral aspect of a successful shipping operation and we remain focused on identifying opportunities in both the second hand and newbuilding markets to further grow TEN."
Source: http://www.prnewswire.com. ATHENS, Greece, Nov. 4 /PRNewswire-FirstCall/ --