ECONOMY

Greek interests maintain their global lead in the purchase of used ships

Greek shipowners are not letting go of the top spot internationally in the used ships market this year, according to the latest available data of the Allied Shipbroking company. A total of 223 ships have been bought by Greek interests since the start of this year. Greek shipping has invested a total of $6.74 billion, maintaining its lead compared with other countries and by some distance. Norway is second in terms of capital invested, with investments of $3 billion. Since the beginning of the year, it is estimated that a total of 1,253 ships have changed owners. The value of transactions exceeded $25 billion in early October, showing that demand for ships on global level remains particularly high. For all of 2005 some $30 billion was invested for all types of ships, while the respective investment already has exceeded $27 billion in less than 10 months in 2006. This is explained by the lack of launching cradles in the Asian shipyards, particularly those in South Korea and China. The occupancy rate of shipyards reaches 100 percent for deliveries within 2009, while ship orders for delivery in 2010 have also started being implemented. As a result many shipowners turn to the used ships market, as these vessels offer immediate amortization of their new owners’ investment. At the same time, depending on the market, they offer shipowners the opportunity to capitalize on the rising course of freight rates, as is happening now with the dry bulk market. The Greek shipping companies, listed or not, have mainly invested in dry bulkers and tankers. The majority of markets concerns dry bulkers, as Greeks have acquired 132 such vessels, valued at $3.6 billion. Analysts attribute this to the shipowners’ difficulty in finding launching cradles available in shipyards for dry bulk ships, due to the preference shipyards show to bigger vessels of other types which offer greater profit margins. The most popular dry cargo category on the global level is the handysize ships with their relatively small capacity (between 10,000 and 40,000 tons) and the handymax ships (40,000-60,000 tons). So far shipowners this year have acquired 191 handysize ships, of 4,871,361 tons at $1.66 billion, and 134 handymax vessels, of 6,418,753 tons at $3 billion. In total 637 dry bulk ships of all types have been resold, costing more than $10.5 billion. As far as tankers are concerned, Greek interests have acquired 79 ships for an amount close to $3 billion. The most popular category by far internationally is the oil product tankers, with a capacity from 10,000 to 60,000 tons. Until mid-October some $4 billion was invested for the purchase of 165 such ships, with a total shipping capacity of 5,191,917 tons. Overall, 400 tankers have been resold, with their cost exceeding $12 billion.