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Marine Money Forum in Athens: Optimism or reality check ahead?

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Ms Mia Jensen’s opening remarks

A brighter beam of light struck this year’s Marine Money Forum at the Athens Hilton yesterday, as numbers brought back the optimistic market sentiment which was absent for a few years, accompanied this time with moderation and caution. Iris Liaskonis* was there with her camera and reports:

The conference commenced with the opening remarks of our host and Greek director of Marine Money International, Mia Jensen, who passed the baton to Costas Bardjis, partner and manager of credit research and liner markets of Marsoft Inc.

Costas Bardjis, Is it Time to Invest into Containership market?

Mr Bardjis examined the evolution of the containership market and whether it is time to invest. Last year ended with containership prices at historically low levels, but at the beginning of 2017, we’ve seen a reversal, with 1,700teu to panamaxes 4,800teu gaining $2.2m. But they remain at soft levels so the opportunity is still there to invest. The other fact is that charter rates have finally moved higher since the six years of being at distressed levels, and the market has improved with larger ships being built of 6,000 to 10,000teu, with 1,700teu vessels still here to satisfy relevant needs. However, uncertainty is still dominant, and we see many experts questioning the sustainability of market recovery for the large ship sector. That is of course related to the global economy, which is going through turbulent times, although forecasts show 3.6% growth this year, up from 3.2% last year.

But why do analysts remain so pessimistic? Negative results have accumulated, and the main thing was survival, which led to consolidation during the last years. If we compare the number of major companies we are going to see only nine firms there, as a result of the mergers and acquisitions among the 17 companies which were there a few years ago. A fact that has been affected by the closing of Hanjin, which has shaken the whole industry.

Profitability has been influenced by significant economic developments and by those mergers and acquisitions, but overordering, and specifically of vessels of 20,000teu, is an essential factor that represents the risk of overconfidence.

What we expect globally is a cyclical economic recovery in many places, but after 2018 which is going to last up to 2020 according to predictions. The direction of trade has changed as well. Chinese products have become less competitive, and we see many manufacturers going back to the US and Europe, so we don’t need so many big ships to move goods from Asia to Europe and US routes. Growth, however, remains strong in intra-Asia Pacific, and we see investment in countries such as Croatia and Greece; while we haven’t seen the potential growth in African and some other countries yet.

We are going to see demand for smaller vessels grow, which cannot explain the trend to order huge vessels. Why? Maybe because Chinese financing is still available easily, newbuilding prices have fallen, regulations regarding emissions are about to take place and because of LNG capacity-related decisions. But the main reason for overordering and the problem is that companies are trying to dominate the market by ordering big and by ordering many vessels.

Debt equity is also a big concern, which we hope will slow down ordering. Again, there are a lot of positives in the industry, inflation is likely to increase – and we had better to wait to see what is going to happen before we get too optimistic over the higher returns of containers in comparison to tankers, for instance. To conclude, there is much potential for smaller ships and new technologies, and there needs to be care as history has shown limited liquidity for liner market.


Dimitris Anagnostopoulos, Fundamental changes in the Greek Shipfinance market between 1987 and 2017

The first session was continued by Dimitris Anagnostopoulos, a director of Aegean Baltic Bank whose talk was on fundamental changes in the Greek ship finance market between 1987 and 2017. In 1987 the market was trying to recover from the loan crisis of the 1980s – a very painful decade. The crisis of the 80s was a shipping crisis only; banks were overcapitalised, they had no problem with reserves and were able to lend fair amounts of money. We had so much profit and capacity, compared with the following years, where banks were exiting as the majority were suffering big losses, and only a few remained. In 1990 to 2001 things became more normal, and a lot of European banks came in.

2008 was the exceptional year, the China factor helped, very low margins and extended lending. After that, we had the Lehman Brothers collapse, undercapitalised banks, very painful for the market, and shallow margins. The unique bank lending of the 80s had ended, and new ways of financing started to arise to satisfy flow.

Today, we have to consider globalisation in the whole economy. Traditional rules of supply and demand and behavioural aspects and political factors that make financial society more and more regulated with much more control take over. Thirty years ago 80% was real economy with real assets, and 20% was paper economy. Today, we have the reverse. Crystal ball projections have the world upside down, and nobody knows what 30 years after today will bring about. Bitcoin, for instance, is the revolution against the onerous regulation of banks in which we don’t know who regulated the regulators: it is an evolution against the over-control that banks have established. The interesting point is that the average age of the Greek fleet which is becoming younger and younger, goes in the opposite direction of Greek tonnage capacity, a fact that tells us a lot about the philosophy behind Greek shipping strategy and its competitive advantage globally. Mr Anagnostopoulos closed his talk mentioning that the success of Greek shipping is still strong and history may be going through cycles, but Greek shipowners remain the masters of the world industry.

Panel: Are we close to a market recovery in dry bulk? What trigger a better market? Is shipyard capacity an overhanging threat? Will recycling tip the balance?

Before the end of the first session, we saw the insightful views of the panel of the dry bulk sector with Basil Sakellis, managing director of Alassia NewShips Management, Nikolaos Triantafyllakis, managing director of W Marine, Kalli A. Livanos, director of Kyla Shipping, Stefanos Angelakos, managing director of Angelakos (Hellas), and Clinton Webb, vice president of the research division of AXIA Ventures Group, with George Lazaridis in market research and valuations of Allied Shipbroking as the moderator of the panel. Mr Lazaridis started the discussion with a quick historical report of the dry bulk index – then posing the question to Mr Sakellis about the factors that drive the current recovery of the market (in March 2016 we had a 1.44% rise) and how the improvement would last. Mr Angelakos referred to the changes in global trade and the technical developments of eco-engines as well as the developments in the Panama Canal, the new ports of Sri Lanka and Iran, and in Africa. Demand is good; supply is also good, spreading optimism.

Mr Angelakos added that there is continuous growth is raw materials, high demand from the population in China. How long this improvement is going to last will depend on specific points such as: rational ordering of newbuildings, continuous positive demand in dry bulk, geopolitics and especially the US-China relationship, and of course scrapping. The only thing we can predict is that things are always unpredictable. Mr Angelakos distinguished irrational and rational phenomena in the market prices of the dry bulk sector; asset prices follow the direction of the freight market, which is rational. What is irrational is the speed of newbuilding price increases.

Mr Sakellis’s point of view was that the fundamental macro-driver of the market recovery is the synchronisation of the growth in developing and developed economies and geopolitical changes. The micro-factor will be the demand for iron ore in China; this will have a negative impact on demand. He mentioned that if recovery is bumpy, newbuilding orders are going to increase from some shipowners, an irrational phenomenon in his opinion. Mr Sakellis added that it is fundamental to have patience and continue to expand while taking advantage of the fact that some companies, like Alassia, are privately held which allows them to operate away from the public eye, thus having flexibility and more control. Alassia seeks to differentiate itself, and take advantage of the fact that it is a private company, by being very strict in terms of payment terms and minimising its break-even point.

Mr Angelakos, regarding his company’s competitive advantage, mentioned keeping vessels in good condition, and being adaptable and trustworthy with their lenders.

Mrs Livanos said that it is vital to adapt to quickly changing situations and keep an excellent financial position, although there are many unforeseen events which we have to navigate. She referred to the opening up of the market to new financing options, seen as quite an optimistic indicator; the cost of capital is increasing though, a hard fact for smaller owners. Mrs Livanos stated that it is essential to be able to attract investors in these turbulent times and improve the availability of capital as cashflow is a challenge. A view which Clinton Webb shared.

Mrs Livanos mentioned the role of shipowners, being close to the charterers and all stakeholders, are crucial to achieve efficiency and more security.

Mr Angelakos referred to the Tier III regulation which makes newbuilding ships very expensive and drives owners to China to build ships compliant to that regulation. Lending in the past years was more relationship-based and a big advantage of our age is that today’s decision making is much more information-rich. Mr Angelakos defined instinct and intuition, as well as adaptability, as a characteristic that has helped Greek shipping stay at the top of the market.

The first session closed with Dr Anil Sharma, president and chief executive of GMS talking about residual value, supply and regulation, putting together all the trends on which the panellists had conferred. He highlighted the drop in asset values, and analysed the factors that affect scrap values, one of the most important being the life expectancy of vessels. Recycling is a critical factor that affects financing. Speaking of numbers, in the global bulk capacity there is a sharp drop in the recycling volume, which trend follow both tankers and containerships. Volatile scrap prices make planning a hard job. Demand and supply, and regulatory issues, are also factors that affect scrap value and so are cash buyers and capital providers, currency rates and availability of information and technology. He ended his talk by referring to the ways we can calculate and monetise residual values.

After the coffee break, the second panel discussion kicked off, with the topic of alternative finance for Greek shipowners. The participants’ team consisted of Hamish Norton, president of Star Bulk Carriers Corp, Daniel Xu in the shipping – tanker Sector of ICBC Financial Leasing, Frans van de Bospoort, managing director of shipping finance eastern hemisphere of DVB Bank and Nick Daskalakis, director of Smarine Advisor Ltd, with Greg Chase, partner of Reed Smith LLP, monitoring the panel.

Alternative finance for Greek shipowners

Mr van de Bospoot pointed out that there is a decrease down to 60% regarding the portion that European banks used to finance shipping market, now Chinese banks come as major players in shipping financing. Mr Norton agrees that alternative financial providers become very important and western private equity hedge funds are looking to financing smaller owners. The cost is however undoubtedly higher. Syndicate financing becomes more and rarer. His experience suggests that smaller shipping companies are what characterizes Greek shipping market. Regarding the volume, Mr Xu, states that 15million USD are provided per month to shipping, and Chinese banks have started to recover. They also offer trade finance to some reputable owners. Mr Norton adds from his experience that Chinese are counterparty based and not so much asset-based, they value the counterparty name and reputation very much. From one hand, Chinese banks are extremely demanding on pricing, and first, fund the purchase themselves, but on the other, they are really powerful and essential and especially in those time. Mr Daskalakis adds that transparency is the key, target Economies of Scale, and those points will help Chinese funding. It is all about the relationship strategy as Chinese banks are relationship driven; you need to be very transparent regarding the strategy, the capital flows, the relationships. In the long term, Mr Bospoort believes that Chinese leasing is not the solution to everything, they have limitations as well. There is a variety of products to be offered but several terms need to be satisfied. New Buildings, are theoretically financed by Chinese leasing companies, but Mr Norton suggests that as Starbulk did, it is essential to make sure that the legal documentation is strictly guaranteed by the contract to ensure that the shipowners are still the sellers; Starbulk want to be the owners from the first month, although that is not the case.

John E. Bradley – Economic Sanctions Everywhere: Recent Lessons for Ship Owners and their Financiers

The session focused then on risk and specifically economic sanctions and recent lessons for shipowners and their financiers and welcomed John E Bradley, shareholder of Vedder Price PC. He talked about how to allocate risks among sellers, commencing with the history and function of economic sanctions and their effect on the economy, politics, and markets. Most of the time, they restrict the contracts, the movement of products and services across borders; however, shipping has to deal with them practically. They also have a protectoral value – US treasury department aims to ensure security from terrorism and other problems. The question is that although you can make products for the whole world, how are you going to realise what you have to give if you cannot distribute them to your clients? The US strategy is for instance to identify sources of North Korean revenue and secondary sanctions that prevent companies doing business there. Iran on the other hand is an up-and-coming country in terms of potential, and it remains to be seen if sanctions win US congress approval. We shouldn’t forget that there is much uncertainty despite the huge potential and hopes for Iran. As Mr Bradley said, we should consider all the risk elements and be careful with documentation and legality.

The talent of assessing counter party risk

Panel discussion continued between Iraklis Prokopakis, senior vice president and chief operating officer of Danaos Corporation, John Platsidakis, managing director of Anangel Maritime Services Inc and chairman of Intercargo, Vasilios Maroulis, head of Greek shipping at Citi Bank and Costas Constantinou, managing partner of Moore Stephens chartered accountants. Moderator of the panel was Brett Esber, partner of Blank Rome LLP, who stated that the topic is broad as many counter parties exist with different risk, so he divided named three categories: credit payment risk, operational performance risk and claim exposure risk. Risk factor has many aspects, the most important of which is identification first of all, and then assessing, monitoring and mitigating the risk factor – can it be reduced, shared or wholly transferred?

Mr Prokopakis pointed out that before signing a charter party – either a time charter or a new building with a long-term charter – what plays the most important part is first the brand name and reputation of the charterer. Secondly, the value and volume of the charter, whether it is included in new buildings projects, the cash flow, if the charterer is engaged in infrastructure. They also monitor, the financial situation of the charterer, the position in the market, whether they pay on time and other key performance indicators. It is vital to be proactive, as after signing the remedies are very restricted. For Mr Platsidakis’s company, crucial factors are the history of the charterer, the financial statements, and their reputation as well as the cash flow. On the finance side, when Mr Maroulis was asked how his business evaluates risk factors, he indicated factors such as consistent financial covenants, the expansion of the company, the route of the company through its history, and last but not least the reputation of the brand name and history in the market. It is also essential to have a structure for monitoring the financial relationship.

As the moderator wanted to bring to the surface the change in risk evaluation through the years, he asked Mr Prokopiou who replied that when you engaged in a 10 or 12 year transaction, when the document is a charterparty, you have to rely on the performance based on the charterparty conditions. Therefore, the assessment to enter and to monitor during the process and the period of the charter is something that you do, but you cannot have a lot of mitigating factors to apply or to approach if something goes wrong rather than taking your ships out. Usually, you are in a bad market, where the options are not many, and that is the reason why the approach hasn’t changed much. The moderator advised that there is a shift from relationship-driven financing to an asset-driven one. Regarding that matter, Mr Maroulis highlighted trust; he doesn’t see a big shift, but more factors to be considered, one of the most important is to see how the transaction could fit the box of the parties’ needs. Mr Constantinou indicated that financial statements are usually backward-looking and not forward-looking, so what you can do is be based on the history and try to see the future picture by measuring other factors. Cash flow is critical regarding that.

But how is risk actually mitigated according to the type – if we talk of a voyage or a time charter? What panellists stated is that what makes the difference is not the type of the charter, it is reliability in terms of payment of the charterer and also try to see the big picture. There are techniques by which you can take the risk out of your balance sheet, but there are other factors which are difficult to measure and be shown on the balance sheet. Mr Prokopiou ended the discussion by stating that at Danaos, they try to diversify the portfolio by investing in various vessels – mostly panamaxes – and also have a portion of their interest rate fixed. The panel’s final point was that the problem is that most of the charterers are not rated. So, it is important to establish measures and a process of proper monitoring the position and trustworthiness of the charterer.

The afternoon session began with a crucial issue for the shipping finance sector: banking shipping portfolio reductions and acquisitions – the realities of today’s shipping finance market. An insightful discussion between Sebastian Schubert, head of shipping portfolio management, NORD/LB, Simos Spyrou, co-chief financial officer, Star Bulk Carriers, Ilias Katsoulis, global credit trading – shipping at Deutsche Bank AG, Harry Sirounis, partner of KPMG certified auditors AE, Holger Rabelt, managing director and head of risk management ship financing of Commerzbank AG, Christopher Thomas, associate director of the shipping department of Berenberg and moderator Chris Vartzis, partner of Stephenson Harwood LLP.

While it is easier than before for financial institutions to sell exposure, it is not a new phenomenon. Regarding trends, there is a lot of cross-selling opportunities and portfolios are tending to grow as well as maybe a more significant chance to attract money from US institutions. As Mr Rabelt stated, we see a variety of courses and products, and an extended focus on the process and stages of the financial relationship, not only on quick and easy deals; they want to have an open dialogue with the client. Mr Schubert added that it is essential to get the deal done, but people need to open up and stop seeing the whole process only in an asset-based manner but consider many factors when evaluating a client. It was also said that on the opportunity side if you have the cash and can negotiate back-to-back the loan for a discount, there is lots of potential.

Bank shipping portfolio reductions and acquisitions. The realities of today’s shipping finance market.

The underlying markets are improving, people are much more experienced to sell loans, but what is questioned is whether the market is liquid for fundamental reasons or because of what happened in the past years. However, no matter which the answer is, although there is much volatility, the opportunities are out there; some people treat them with a long-term vision, others in a purely opportunistic way. Some investors, thus, may get out of the market depending on their aims and vision. Container business is the only market that can be characterised as rather stable and reasonable returns in equity, contrary to the tanker market which is too fragmented and as long as we have cheap Chinese leasing, this is going to continue according to Mr Rabelt. He is also convinced that consolidation is needed, at least for many German shipowners, otherwise, you won’t see the discipline that is needed in the market, and you have to identify not only investors but also weak shipowners. Consolidation was a controversial topic though; for Mr Katsoulis it is not needed, at the end what investors want is to maximise their profits and they don’t care about consolidation as long as they get paid. We have seen some consolidation, but it is the minimum, and it doesn’t lead far enough.

According to Mr Sirounis, through the acquisition of portfolios that KPMG has overseen, it has seen the discount narrowing, attracting more investors to buy portfolios – that’s an inverted increase in buying portfolios. On the other side, they have noticed is that overall pricing on shipping loans has increased and they are looking to acquire portfolios, and that is an interesting trend.

The second panel of the afternoon examined the availability of the capital markets – private and public – to leading owners to grow their business. Keith Billotti, partner of Seward & Kissel, LLP, began with a few remarks on the New York market. What we can sum up from his speech is that since 2013 they have only raised $6bn. Investors are getting more and more selective and especially in shipping which is a capital intensive environment, with orders for newbuildings being the primary drivers of capital markets financing. It is interesting that $2bn is that amount that has been raised in the shipping industry only this year, 10% more than last year, with $500m in NY, and $1.1bn in Oslo, four times what they did last year – dry bulk, container, and LNG markets are dominant. Other trends are that in general, the order book is declining especially in the dry bulk sector, the interest rates are floating, covenants are at current base, we see private placements, equity offerings, term loans, high yield bonds, and restrictions are imposed on investments and selling assets. Funds are entering the market more and more, and investors are looking ahead, commissions are generally less, and they can be suspended at any time. The main trend that happens in practice is that shares get put to the investors, they go and sell them, and they go and buy them at a discount price – then this process is repeating, and it drives the price down below the point which is required to maintain your share list. So, what the issuer has to do is to split their stock price, they have to back up, and this process is repeated.

Are the capital markets raising their heads?
Can leading owners find fresh capital – public and private – to grow their business?

The panel discussion brought insights from Todd Wilson, senior vice president, head of maritime, Jefferies LLC, Alexandre Semons, senior vice president, DVB Corporate Finance, Aristides Pittas, chairman, Euroseas Ltd, Jerry Kalogiratos, chief executive, Capital Product Partners LP and Christina Anagnostara, director, investment banking, AXIA Ventures Group as the moderator. Referring to the numbers discussed before, and content of the portfolio, which was dominated by high yield bond issuance, she asked Mr Wilson and Mr Semons for their comments on the trends. Mr Semons believes that the markets are open, but price dependent. You have to keep in mind that a lot of investors have lost lots of money through the years, so you have to create something really compelling. Mr Wilson points out that shipping market is open and in the right direction, and they help investors take notice of what happens in the sector. The Norwegian markets although they look more regional, they are becoming more international and given the money raised in NY, the city represents an opportunity for Greek shipowners. We also notice the difference from previous years, when all those tools were crucial to curing balance sheet and capital markets, where this year there is a growth activity to fund mergers and acquisitions. That is the right direction and capital markets are open for shipping companies.

Not all products are available to everybody, in the Jefferies view, and what they have seen is that equity investors are more interested in bond shipping stories as long as shipowners are flexible in their approach in their products and pricing. All these tools are available to companies with the right profiles. Right structure, covenants, ability to pay dividends, proper fleet structure are essential characteristics to evaluate profiles, and according to those tools, the Norwegian capital market is believed to be a tool that you should have on your belt like the US capital markets if you have that size. In general, there are some things you will need to know, and it is a kind of industry diagnostics – how is it structured and what are the credit fundamentals and whether it fits your portfolio. Mr Pittas agrees that things have started to move and there is expected to be more movement in the next year, better charter rates, more profits are expected, and they need higher interest rates to keep up with the trend. What he has seen is that investors want to look at more short term gains and short-term profits and earnings, so we need higher charter rates to perform above net asset value. The question is what happens next. Overall, half of the capital has been raised by maritime NOPs – this doesn’t mean we don’t have private equity, but what we can comment is that we have an average access more traditional.

Regarding the difference between small and big companies and their access to capital, Mr Pittas believes that a bigger company may have easier access to public capital and easier persuasion power towards investors – both private and public – to make capital come in. Big institutional investors, on the other hand, need to have big companies to invest in, because they want to be able to get in and out quickly. But, the majority of the investors in shipping are smaller and retail investors, and they can do equally good in a smaller company. You don’t need to have a big size, a 20 vessels’ company can perform as good as a 100 vessels’ company and be equally efficient. But in order to raise capital, it is always easier if you are bigger. He distinguishes, however, efficiency and access to capital; you can have small companies that do things well at the right time, invest wisely and perform very well. So big and small are all part of the whole equation and at the end what matters is management, efficiency and knowing what you do to get higher returns. Mr Kalogiratos’s opinion is that a public company, in the end, signals some things like transparency in your structure, and maybe of a new entry into capital markets. Also, it is another source of capital, and they can tap in specific markets. However, that discipline has a cost; overall, if you have size is a factor in the capital access equation, additional with providing liquidity and having a good reputation. Mr Semons’s opinion is that company’s quality is what matters, and that doesn’t mean size; and if you are a small but transparent company, you will have a choice on the financial side beyond the traditional market. Mr Wilson agrees somewhat with that, but the problem is that in the US market there is no small company, there are all micro companies – it is not that shipping companies are competing with each other, they are competing with other market opportunities. Not many have generated positive returns for investors, in the US over the last years. If you are trading above NAV you have a specific advantage and if you are trading below NAV, your position is not as favourable. That is not always the case, however, nor the main factor to characterize the quality of your company. Size does matter, but to consolidate just for consolidating doesn’t make sense, as there are huge companies to compete. What does make sense for a public company where you can increase the flow, is to create a story that investors not only get behind from covenants, transparency, solid management, which are fundamentals but also a liquid currency. It is not easy as it was since capital markets love to see more M&A, but synergies are jumping off the table, and it is always someone giving up the keys to the other. For the last years, Mr Pittas stated that Euroseas would split into two into a dry bulk and a container component and become a dual player as this is what capital markets want, and at the same time, they have chosen consolidation and they have signed the NLO to merge the container part with Technomar, to become a more prominent container player in the market.

Wartsila’s Fraser Scott: A sustainable business model for future shipping

The session before the coffee break followed the presentation of Fraser Scott, director of global sales development services of Wärtsilä on a sustainable business model for future shipping.

He talked about new systems of his company and the ways they can add value, help in achieving efficiency and reducing maintenance costs while being compliant with the latest regulations. Complex algorithms, digitalisation, and data analysis are the buzz words of our age, with predictive analytics and machine learning being the on cutting edge, and tools of the latest developments of Wärtsilä. From a transaction-based philosophy, Wartsila wants to move to a more performance-based asset management, based on data. Their recent agreement with a vast cruise company, set the pace for an innovative approach, with less bureaucracy, thus better time management and efficiency, using artificial intelligence and gathered data that are analysed through AI.

Coming to the last session, which was dedicated to Risk and Fresh financing by new banks, we saw what Shoreline Managers could offer, via a presentation by Nicholas Taylor, consultant of the company, on ‘Risk alert – an integrated crime and cyber insurance product.’

New banks and fresh finance

The last panel of the forum gave us the chance to explore new banks and ways of financing. We heard Markus Wenker, head of ship finance of Hellenic Bank, Nick Roos, managing director in Maritime Asset Partners, Steven Baffico executive chairman of Global Marine Transport Capital, Martin Hugger, managing director of Meerbaum Capital Solutions Inc. with George Paleokrassas, partner at Watson Farley & Williams LLP moderating the panel. Mr Wenker referred to a redefinition of risk appetite if we talk about ways of alternative financing in comparison with traditional financing opportunities. Some borrowers that were seeking national banks’ support turn now to alternative sources. Relationship banking is still the way they operate, however, they are now more specialized, having more expertise than they used to have in the past. They are also more asset driven, and they have a slightly different approach is adopted, they want to own the vessel and establish more security measures. They want to be focused on mid-life utility ties, things that they knew that the typical banks if they were worst off in the market they would be precluded from the market. They are also very focused on relationships, and they achieve that by having experienced local teams integrated into a unique global team, from the day one – origination, technical assessment, transactional and client management – up to every stage of the relationship. Mr Ross in Maritime Asset Partners also states relationship management and credit fundamentals as the main axes of their approach. They have a flexible approach and a customised way the work. Mr Baffico highlighted what is a common rationality is not always common practice. Things like viability to the client and proper reporting are great, but only when they are measured and monitored. Risk is a crucial factor, if you can minimize the risk, you can extract better protection and better outcomes. Macro and micro risks are important to be considered according to Mr Wenker as well. Four years ago, risk was not appropriately priced by banks, but now we see a tremendous change is financing and capital providers. That change is valued by the market, if it is adapted or digested by the market. The moderator commented that most of the providers put the price of the risk at a high level, and asked Mr Ross if that is the most significant thing they have to negotiate with the client? Mr Ross supports that this is correct as they provide a cost for the return they will have, and also they provide flexibility and speed of execution regarding decision making.

On the question of the focus and vision of the companies, and whether it might be opportunistic or long-term driven, Mr Wenker supported the long-term approach. Many banks that were away for long are returning to shipping again, and from his perspective it is a matter of the trend of the times – an opinion that half of the panel supported. Mr Ross disagreed and felt that the traditional lenders were not coming back anytime soon.

An opinion that dominated the panel is: we definitely need a different approach and to position ourselves differently according to the market we target. Knowing your terms and showing flexibility according to the stage of the cycle of the market you are at, make for fundamental principles when drawing up your strategy.

Lefteris Koulalis and Katerina Riga from Piraeus Bank, Matthew Anthony from VesselsValue, Iris Liaskonis and Kostas Ioannou from Piraeus Bank.

An excellent evening reception, the “red night” as many called it, sponsored as always in this conference series by Capital Product Partners, at the Olympiakos Football Club’s “George Karaiskakis Stadium” was the talk of the town!!!

We had the pleasure to see many acquaintances and friends from the shipping world, and enjoy nice conversations with drinks and delicacies with the stunning view of the Stadium. Many thanks to Capital Product Partners for such a wonderful night. 

Iris Liaskonis

Lastly many Congratulations to Mia Jensen, Kevin Oates and their team for producing and directing a very crucial event at the right possible time!
























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