ECONOMY

Greeks ride wave of ship acquisitions

About $15 billion changed hands for secondhand vessels worldwide in the first half of 2006, against $15.7 billion in the same period last year, according to Allied Shipbroking Hellas. This was despite the fact that more ships have been sold this year, as prices have been falling. Greek shipowners’ orders for secondhand vessels totaled $5 billion in value in the first half of 2006. A total of 674 secondhand cargo ships and tankers were sold in the first half of this year, against 640 in the same period of 2005, according to Allied. A total of 817 ships of all types changed hands, for $18.4 billion. Their total capacity was 38.3 million deadweight tons (dwt). Bulk carriers formed the largest category; 414 of them were sold for a total of $6.7 billion. The number of tankers sold was 260, for a total of $8.2 billion. In the first half of 2005, 360 bulk carriers changed hands for $7 billion and 280 tankers for $8.7 billion. The switch of many operators to bulk carriers reflects the continuing rise in freight rates. In the first six months, the charter rates index for panamax carriers was 25.72 percent higher, the supramax index rose almost 22 percent and the capesize index gained 15.43 percent. Shipping agents are taking the view that the rally will continue. Despite the fact that it is not always possible to accurately estimate the funds that Greek shipping firms expend – due to deals that go unannounced, Tradewinds magazine estimates that Greek interests acquired 173 vessels in the first six months of 2006, totaling a capacity of 11.5 million dwt. If a comparison is made with Allied Shipbroking Hellas’s figures, it emerges that Greeks acquired 21.2 percent of the ships sold, representing 30 percent of capacity. The $5 billion spent by Greek shipowners represents 27 percent of the total of $18.4 billion. If the trend continues, 2006 may end as a record year for Greek acquisitions. New vessels Greek shipowners placed orders for new vessels at various shipyards worldwide worth a total of $6.6 billion in the first six months of 2006, according to a study by G. Moundreas & Co. This was just under double the value of the orders placed in the same period last year. In March alone this year, Greeks ordered 48 new vessels – the same number ordered in the whole first half of 2005 – worth $3 billion. Of the total of 118 vessels, 93 were tankers, 15 bulk carriers, two liquefied gas tankers (LPGs) and eight container ships. Their total capacity (excluding LPGs and container ships) was 10.57 million dwt. In the first half of 2005, Greek orders for new vessels totaled 62, of which were 24 tankers, 11 bulk carriers, 17 LPGs and eight container ships, totaling a capacity of 2 million dwt. According to data compiled by the Union of Greek Shipowners (EEE), the capacity of Greek-owned shipping is now 4.1 higher than two years ago, accounting for 16.1 percent of the world’s total. Greek-owned vessels flying flags of European Union countries account for 49.7 percent of dwt capacity in the block; Greeks operate 19.8 percent of the global tanker fleet and 23.6 percent of bulk-carrier capacity.