Coastal shippers ask banks for loan restructuring

Coastal shipping companies are asking banks restructuring of their loans as all of them, whether listed or not, have posted fresh losses after the first half of the year that added up to more than 110 million euros.

The four listed coastal shippers — Attica Group, Minoan Lines, Maritime of Lesvos (NEL) and ANEK — registered losses of 93.29 million euros, down from 102.8 million in the same period last year.

The reduction of losses comes mostly as a result of efforts to contain operating expenses through merging or stopping services, reducing the speed of sailing and selling vessels. Three out of the four Athens-listed firms posted smaller losses year-on-year, while ANEK saw an increase. In the first half of the year total revenues amounted to 283.6 million, against 343.8 million in the January-June 2011 period.

Faced with the prospect of uncertainty in the coming months, coastal shipping firms are now turning to banks, hoping to have their loan obligations restructured in order to secure the cash flow that would cover their everyday payment needs, such as salaries, suppliers and fuel.

?Greek banks that are aware of the peculiarities of the Greek coastal shipping market and so can facilitate their client companies,? says Giorgos Xiradakis, chief executive at XRTC consultants. ?As far as foreign lenders are concerned, the biggest incentive they have to agree to a restructuring is the risk that if they don?t they may lose up to 80 percent of their money,? he adds.

Attica Group, which presented its results on August 29, posted losses of 29.80 million euros in the year?s first half, against 33.98 million a year earlier, while its turnover shrank from 111.45 million last year to 102.66 million this year. The group slashed its Adriatic services by 15 percent and those within Greece by 14 percent. At the end of June it had 8.14 million euros in cash and is still in talks with banks aiming to restructure its loan obligations.

ANEK had group losses of 24.3 million euros against 17 million in 2011, while revenues declined from 117 million to 83.2 million. The company states that its main problem is the lack of liquidity, which in many cases means it and other companies are unable to meet their obligations.

Minoan Lines registered losses of 20.99 million euros in the year to June, from 24.8 million in the same period last year. The group?s turnover came to 67.5 million against 79.3 million in H1 of 2011. It states that in the last few years it has contained its operating expenses and stopped services such as that linking Patra with Venice, and has had two of its vessels chartered to improve its net position.

NEL showed losses of 18.2 million euros from 27.1 million in 2011. Its short-term obligations amount to 87.8 million and it has a negative net cash flow.

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