Coastal shipping firm Hellenic Seaways is likely to become part of rival ANEK very shortly, as the latter company announced yesterday that it is in advanced negotiations for acquiring Minoan Lines’ 33.35 percent stake in Hellenic Seaways. Sources suggest that the deal will close today, with the cost of the transaction ranging around 4.80 euros for each of the 26 million shares that is to change hands, or about 125 million euros in total. This will mean the creation of two major firms in the domestic coastal shipping market, ANEK and Attica Group, with the smaller NEL, Aegean Lines, GA Ferries, Kallisti Ferries and Minoan Lines sailing around them. Sea Star Capital, the main shareholder in ANEK, had already acquired 34.7 percent of Hellenic Seaways in December 2007 for 5.75 euros per share. The Vardinoyiannis-owned firm then took its stake to 36.5 percent by adding shares bought from NEL for 4 euros per share. As a result Yiannis Vardinoyiannis will soon assume full control of Hellenic Seaways as his stake will now be 70 percent. Observers note that ANEK’s control of Hellenic Seaways «will help coastal shipping remain in Greek hands.» However, ANEK will need to secure funding for the acquisition, as it cannot fund it by itself. Kathimerini understands that participating in the transaction will be the Grimaldi Group (as guarantor), Credit Swiss and Piraeus Bank. The Restis Group, which holds a 12.92 percent stake in Sea Star Capital, rejected claims it would co-fund the move.