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Daily Briefing October 6 2017

DIANA Containerships has strikes deal to sell up to seven of its fleet of 11 container vessels to Poseidon Container Holdings


Greek container consolidation continues as Poseidon seeks seven vessels from Diana

DIANA Containerships has struck a deal to sell up to seven of its fleet of 11 container vessels to Poseidon Container Holdings.

The agreement, announced by Nasdaq-listed Diana Containerships on Thursday without disclosing the identity of the buyer, comes hard on the heels of an announcement earlier this week that Poseidon is exploring a merger with the boxship fleet of another Greece-based Nasdaq-listed owner, Euroseas.

A Diana director declined to name the counterparty and executives at George Youroukos-led Poseidon could not immediately be reached for comment.

But Lloyd's List has confirmed through industry sources aware of the deal that Poseidon, the container vehicle backed by Mr Youroukos' Technomar Shipping, is the mystery buyer.

Investment firms Kelso & Company and Maas Capital Investments are also partners in Poseidon.

Simeon Palios-led Diana Containerships, an affiliate of dry bulk owner Diana Shipping, said that it had agreed to sell up to seven of its vessels for up to $104m.

The deal was "subject to the purchaser obtaining certain minimum financing" and depending on financing issues the final number of vessels sold could be less than the maximum seven.

Diana currently owns a fleet of six post-panamaxes and five panamaxes and it is understood that the agreement allows for different combinations of ships to be acquired, depending on the financing level.

Any vessel sales under the deal are expected to conclude in the first quarter of 2018, though this could be extended "under certain circumstances" Diana said.
Diana Containerships president Anastasios Margaronis said that the transaction represented "attractive sale terms for the vessels in the current market".

The result would decrease the fleet's age profile and could allow it to acquire a number of modern vessels, Mr Margaronis said.

The company said that it has not identified specific vessels for acquisition and at least part of the proceeds will be used to repay loans from unaffiliated lender Addiewell Ltd and Diana Shipping.

Poseidon launched an initial public offering in 2015 but retreated from the flotation due to the Chinese capital market meltdown, despite being fully subscribed.

It currently owns and operates 16 container vessels with an aggregate capacity of 86,332 teu, including 10 post-panamaxes, two panamaxes and four feeders.

Euroseas, the Aristides Pittas-led owner of bulkers and containerships, announced earlier this week that it has entered a letter of intent to potentially merge its boxship fleet of 15 vessels of 34,044 teu with Poseidon's.

If the merger goes ahead, it could result in Euroseas splitting into two listed companies, one for container vessels and one for its bulkers.

The fresh deal between Poseidon and Diana raises the potential size of a merged fleet to 38 vessels.

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Top stories:

Shipping faces fresh EU pressure on emissions

A POTENTIAL turning point in favour of including shipping in the soon-to-be-revised European Union Emissions Trading System could be reached on Friday.

Representatives of the Council of the European Union will deliberate that move for the first time, as they discuss a new EU Presidency proposal.

That would advise the European Commission to keep under its microscope the International Maritime Organization's progress towards adopting a greenhouse gas reduction strategy and the measures to facilitate it. An earlier council position simply referenced the IMO's efforts and the need to agree to measures and targets to achieve the Paris Agreement's goals, but did not assign any responsibilities to the commission or to other EU bodies.

The presidency is also suggesting that revenues the EU generates from emissions auctions within the ETS be used to help cut shipping emissions and promote low-emissions initiatives.

A revised EU ETS that includes the maritime sector was proposed by the parliament earlier this year, kicking off the EU's trilogue procedure, under which the council, parliament and commission negotiate to find an agreeable form for the legislation. There have been four trilogues on the ETS since then.

The presidency's position represents the council, which is composed of the 28 member states.

The Permanent Representatives Committee, the council's preparatory body that also gives the presidency a mandate to negotiate on the council's behalf based on its proposal each time, will convene on Friday to assess the presidency's proposal and approve or reject it.

Despite the new inserts, the presidency's latest position still differs from the parliament's; the latter is very specific, calling for the inclusion of shipping in the new ETS from 2023 onwards if the IMO does not agree to a greenhouse gas reduction measure by 2021.

The IMO is looking to adopt a final greenhouse gas reduction strategy with the analogous measures in 2023 and will approve an initial strategy in April 2018.
Sources said that should this latest EU proposal pass, it would push shipping much closer within the ETS's reach, making it a part of the system even if it is not under the parliament's preferred form.

While the presidency's wording differs from the parliament's proposal, the latest inclusion of shipping indicates that the tide may be shifting in favour of the parliament. It indicates that there may have been some form of horse trading in the legislation, whereby the inclusion of shipping has been accepted for the exclusion of some other sector, sources said. Identifying exactly which trades were made and with whom is difficult.

However, member states are broadly against the inclusion of shipping, the source added. Any sudden emergence of different opinions on Friday could reveal potential winners from this suspected horse trading.

The commission will be particularly wary about the effect this will have on the EU's relationship with non-member states, sources added. Third countries are overall apprehensive of the ETS, viewing the proposal as a burdensome and regionalist measure.

Approval of the presidency's proposal, despite its vagueness, is expected to provoke the ire of the IMO, which has been vocal in its disapproval of the EU's regional approach to the matter; secretary-general Kitack Lim publicly called on the EU to abandon this pursuit for the sake of a global approach to the problem.

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BP adds six newbuildings to its LNG shipping fleet

OIL major BP will be adding six newbuilding liquefied natural gas carriers to its fleet as it seeks to meet demand for cleaner energy sources across the globe.

Financing the 174,000 cu m newbuildings are South Korea's KMarin and China's ICBC Leasing, which have sunk over $1bn into the project and will lease those ships to BP on bareboat charters. KMarin beneficially owns four of the vessels and ICBC Leasing owns two.

The vessels, ordered at Daewoo Shipbuilding & Marine Engineering in 2014, are expected to join BP Shipping's fleet in 2018 and 2019.

The vessels will be used to ship LNG from the Freeport LNG facility in Texas, where BP has a 20-year tolling agreement, as well as others of the major's production projects across the globe.

The long-term contract is for 230trn British thermal units of gas per year at the Freeport LNG liquefaction facility. That is currently under construction and with the first train likely to be operational by end-2018.

BP's 2017 energy outlook expects that global LNG trade is set to grow by seven-fold over pipeline gas trade and that by 2035, it will account for roughly half of all globally traded gas.

The six LNG carriers are part of BP's fleet renewal programme that also includes nine aframax crude tankers financed by KMarin as well as three suezmax and 14 handymax and handysize product tankers financed by ICBC Leasing.

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Banks can play comeback kids in ship finance if star aligns

CAN traditional banks regain the ground lost to capital markets and other alternative types of finance? They had their supporters at the Capital Link New York Maritime Forum earlier this week, but business conditions will likely need to improve before banks come back in droves.

Francis Birkeland, ABN Amro's head of shipping for the Americas, argued that a cyclical decline in bank lending should be expected given that many shipping sectors were currently in downturn mode. Although he acknowledged that leasing companies were quickly filling in the gap created by the exit of several marquee banks, he expressed confidence that ship lending would come back when markets turn and more banks enter, or rather re-enter, the market.

Maybe not, argued a less sanguine Michael Parker, Citi's global shipping head. Mr Parker offered three reasons for his scepticism: First, increased scrutiny in ship lending by bank regulators means tighter credit standards and therefore higher costs.  Second, bigger companies, many of which are the product of industry consolidation, have access to capital markets. And third, Chinese leasing companies are here to stay since they have a mandate to support domestic shipbuilding and infrastructure.

Several recent transactions highlight how the finance landscape is changing before our eyes, but there is no strong indication of which way the winds are blowing. Product tanker specialist Scorpio Tankers, fresh from its merger with Navig8 Product Tankers, executed a seven-year sale and leaseback for five product tankers with Bank of Communications Financial Leasing, a major Chinese lender.

Part of the $137.5m in proceeds will go towards paying down a traditional secured loan facility that Scorpio had only executed in 2016. Since the loan facility is scheduled to mature in 2021, Scorpio effectively elected to replace a recent bank debt with an alternative source of funding that has a longer duration until 2024.

Scorpio did not disclose the full terms of the deal. The effective borrowing rate will depend on whether Scorpio exercises the option to buy back the vessels or redeliver them to the leasing company.

Containership owner Seaspan issued $80m in baby bonds, with plans to list them on the New York Stock Exchange. The senior notes have a term of 10 years and pay an annualised interest of 7.125%. The last time Seaspan issued this type of exchange-traded debt was in March 2014.

On the other hand, dry cargo specialist Safe Bulkers announced the refinancing of $74.9m of existing loans, for a combination of $49.6m from a new facility, $17m cash in hand, and a debt write-off of $8.3m.

What is notable in the last transaction is that a ship lender was willing to agree to a haircut, despite the improved outlook for the dry cargo sector, and despite the loan not being classified as "distressed".

The three examples above highlight the many options that are available to marquee shipping names, to create a diversified debt portfolio that will presumably better match the age profile of their fleets.

As to whether traditional bank debt will go on permanent retreat, another fellow banker came to the defence of Mr Birkeland. DVB Bank managing director Martin Van Tuijl reminded the Capital Link audience that "memories are short" in banking, and if new capital requirements in asset-backed lending lead to higher margins, bankers will "rediscover" the shipping sector before long.

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The reefer sector is looking to work its frozen assets

IN THE world of automobile manufacturing, Formula 1 racing plays a special role in the transfer of technology. It is here that manufacturers develop, test and advertise cutting-edge technologies that eventually trickle down to the average user of the average car.

In container shipping, the equivalent to Formula 1 is the reefer sector, according to Eskesen Advisory founder Thomas Eskesen, a Maersk veteran who headed up the Danish giant's reefer and special cargo division between 2006 and 2015.

"We are seeing more smart containers, which is being driven by the reefer sector's Formula 1 effect," Mr Eskesen told the Global Liner Shipping conference in Singapore. "Shipping lines are starting to put smart chips on their containers so now they can track and share with clients what happens in the box."

Read the full feature





The capesize sector is experiencing renewed strength

CAPESIZE bulker earnings have climbed back up to more than $20,000 per day as the effect of the holidays in Asia continues to wear off. With additional cargoes expected to come online this week, owners were hesitant to fix at current values, expecting higher values going forward.


The Brazil to China trade appeared to meanwhile be pausing for breath, while in the North Atlantic market, there were a number of fresh cargoes to support rates. Australia to China showed the biggest improvement in rates in the week, climbing to $8.12 per tonne from $7.56 a week ago, while the Brazil to China route, while still strong, had a slight dip to $18.40 per tonne.

Read the full report



In brief

Neptune has extended its dry bulk interest with a second supramax

NEPTUNE Lines Shipping group, the Greece-based owner and agency best known for its regular car carrier services, has extended a new dip into the dry bulk sector with a second supramax acquisition. A recently established entity, Neptune Dry Management, has been confirmed as the buyer of the Japanese supramax BW Indigo over the summer and a second deal has just been sealed, according to market sources with knowledge of the transaction.

The move puts Neptune alongside a number of well-established Greek shipowners lately that have seized the opportunity to make their first moves in the dry bulk sector. The Latsis group and Aegean Shipping Management have been among the more conspicuous examples.

Full story

Despina Theodosiou has been named Wista International president

DESPINA Theodosiou has been elected president of the Women's International Shipping and Trading Association at the group's annual meeting in Rotterdam.

Ms Theodosiou is chief executive of satellite and radio communications service provider Tototheo Maritime, a board member of the Cyprus Shipping Chamber and president and founding member of Wista Cyprus

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Asian freight forwarders are using a new online platform to facilitate trade services

A REGIONAL coalition of Asian freight forwarders' associations have come together to launch an online platform that aims to smooth out trade processes across the logistics supply chain. The Asean Federation of Forwarders' Associations, together with national representation from Malaysia, Philippines, Vietnam and Myanmar have agreed to encourage their members to use the trade facilitation platform.

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Nigeria LNG wins a significant tax case against Nimasa

NIGERIA LNG has won its case against the Nigerian Maritime Administration and Safety Agency in a long-running tax dispute that once led to the blockade of the country's exports of liquefied natural gas for a month.

Earlier this week, the Federal High Court in Lagos ruled that Nigeria LNG is not subject to a sea protection levy, which amounts to 3% gross freight in international trades and 2% cabotage surcharges on all activities, because it is not involved in coastal trade. What is more, Justice MB Idris held that all such payments already made to Nimasa should be refunded to Nigeria LNG.

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China Merchants is moving into IT development

HONG Kong-listed China Merchants Port Holdings' information technology unit has signed a deal to provide IT systems for a Djibouti-based affiliate of the group. Under the contract, which is valued at about $6.9m, China Merchants Holdings Information Technology will develop IT software and systems for the Djibouti Asset Company comprising network systems, closed circuit television systems, IT data centres and business management software.

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Rig sales could unlock cash flow for shipyards

RIG transactions in the global oil and gas industry have increased over the past six months and the process should help shipyards such as Sembcorp Marine and Keppel Offshore and Marine. "New entrants - North Drilling and Borr Drilling - looking for distressed assets, coupled with firm oil prices, adds to optimism and could speed up the process of rig sales. This will unlock cash flow for the shipyards," DBS Group Research analyst Ho Pei Hwa said.

Her comment follows PPL Shipyard's termination of three jack-up rig contracts with Integradora de Servicios Petroleros Oro Negro and its subsidiary Oro Negro Vastus. PPL is a unit of Singapore-listed Sembcorp Marine.

With the latest termination, newbuilding contracts for six out of seven undelivered jack-up rigs have been terminated.

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Keppel Shipyard has won an FPSO conversion deal from SBM Offshore

KEPPEL Offshore & Marine's unit Keppel Shipyard has signed a floating production and storage vessel conversion deal with SBM Offshore. Under the agreement, SBM Offshore will send over a very large crude carrier to the Singapore-based yard for the conversion project. The vessel is expected to be able to store 1.6m barrels of crude oil and produce as much as 120,000 barrels of oil per day.

The deal comes shortly after the shipbuilder completed a $735m floating liquefied natural gas vessel conversion project for Golar LNG earlier in the week and moved the Hilli Episeyo to deep water anchorage in preparation for the final marine commissioning process. The agreement was signed back in 2014.

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Charo Coll has taken the helm at the International Salvage Union

CHARO Coll has been elected president of the International Salvage Union, the global trade association representing marine salvors. Ms Coll is general manager of the offshore and salvage division of Spanish company Boluda Corporaci¢n Mar°tima. She manages the chartering and sales and purchase departments and is the key go-between with the Spanish Maritime Safety Agency.

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