It with great success that Capital Link hosted its 8th Annual Greek Shipping Forum “Opportunities & Challenges” which took place on Wednesday, February 15th, 2017 at the Divani Caravel Hotel in Athens, Greece, in cooperation with NASDAQ and the New York Stock Exchange.
Greek shipping remains important to the maritime economy, constituting approximately 20 percent of the world’s shipping fleet. In spite of the volatile markets and economic downturn, Greek shipping professionals have consistently adapted to changing conditions, seeking out growth and opportunity rather than yielding to their circumstances. The Forum provided a comprehensive review of current trends and outlook of the global economy and the main commodity, energy and shipping markets. It also discussed critical issues and challenges the industry faces, including geopolitical and regulatory developments, technical and commercial fleet management and access to capital. It examined bank financing, capital markets and alternative funding mechanisms and strategies.
Our Athens Forum, in its 8th year, attracted more than 1,400 delegates and is known for its large attendance by public and private shipping companies' executives and market participants.
FORUM KEYNOT SPEAKER - The Internationalization of China & Chinese Shipping
Keynote speaker of the Forum was Mr. Zhang Ye, President of the Shanghai Shipping Exchange who discussed “The internationalization of the Chinese Economy and Chinese Shipping”. Mr. Ye was awarded the honor of Shanghai Municipal Leading Talent, Top 10 Finance Leaders in Shanghai and selected as the Top 100 Most Influential People of Shipping Sector by Lloyd's List consecutively in 2010-2013 and 2015. In 2012, he was also awarded the honor of Top 10 Most Influential Shipping People in China. He works as Shanghai Conference Ambassador since 2013.
Mr. Zhang Ye stated: “The downturn of world economy and shipping has brought huge challenges to the development of maritime industry, but the growth of China’s economy and trade needs the world maritime service. He will give a quick overview of Chinese shipping industry including the scale of Chinese fleet and shipping enterprises, the port layout and port enterprises, the scale and capacity of Chinese shipyards, the scale of ship financial lease in China, etc. He will share the national strategy of shipping development like 13th Five-year planning, Belt& Road, Free Trade Zone, maritime information, maritime indexes, etc. and analyze possible opportunities and challenges. He will also discuss how China, during its internationalization of economy and shipping, learns the Greek financing and shipbuilding experience as well as the potential market opportunities”.
2017 CAPITAL LINK GREEK SHIPPING LEADERSHIP AWARD
The "2017 Capital Link Greek Shipping Leadership Award" was presented to Professor Costas Th. Grammenos CBE DSc, LRF Chair in Shipping, Trade & Finance, Chairman, Costas Grammenos Centre for Shipping, Trade & Finance, Cass Business School, City, University of London.
Professor Costas Th. Grammenos was introduced by Dr. Anthony Papadimitriou, President to the Board of Directors of Alexander S. Onassis Foundation and Dr. Nikolas Tsakos, President & CEO, Tsakos Energy Navigation; Chairman, Intertanko.
Dr. Anthony Papadimitriou, President to the Board of Directors of Alexander S. Onassis Foundation introduced Professor Costas Th. Grammenos by stating “I am particularly glad that Costas Grammenos, a worldwide reference for the economy and the shipping industry, is a member of the Onassis Foundation and also a great friend. Thanks to him, his vision and his character, thousands of young Greeks and non-Greeks expanded their horizons by learning to sail not only in quiet but also in difficult times.
I will always admire Costas Grammenos not only for his expertise but also for his broader culture, as besides being a wonderful teacher, an exceptional character and a friend, Professor Costas Grammenos is a true “Homo Universalis”. Theater, music and literature are practically integrated in his personality. His education, allows him to combine in the same sentence both shipping and Aristophanes, proving the value of an open spirit in an extremely important and successful life journey."
Dr. Nikos P. Tsakos, Chairman - INTERTANKO; President & CEO - Tsakos Energy Navigation introduced Professor Costas Th. Grammenos by stating “"On my many and long journeys as a businessman and with my Intertanko hat on, I meet Professor Grammenos' former students in top positions all over the world, amongst whom there is a strong feeling of solidarity, camaraderie and networking. But it is not only the level of education and networking possibilities that the Professor oversees, it's his amazing ability to remember every single one of the more than 3,000 students that he has taught. The Professor not only cares about the one or two years you spend on his course, but he considers every one of his graduates to be like family. With this, I want to congratulate Capital Link for their choice and say a big "thank you" to the Professor, on behalf of all shipping people, for his contribution to our industry's profile."
ACCEPTANCE SPEECH OF PROFESSOR GRAMMENOS
Prof. Costas Grammenos has made a unique contribution to the global shipping industry not only by providing scientific and academic thought leadership through his writings and teachings but also through the establishment of an educational institution that has become the must-attend university for those who aspire careers in shipping, energy, trade and finance. More than 4.700 alumni belong to a unique network of professionals who today lead the industry to new directions. Costas Grammenos has achieved a uniquely positive and transformational impact on the global shipping industry.
In his acceptance speech Professor Grammenos stated:
“I am hugely honored in receiving the prestigious Capital Link Greek Shipping Leadership Award.
I thank Capital Link, I thank Nikolas Bornozis. Both of us have walked a very long way to reach this point. The only difference is that he is a lot younger. I do also thank both Dr. Anthony Papadimitriou and Dr. Nikolas Tsakos for their exceedingly warm and generous introductions. Yes I am a Professor but I admit I have learned a lot from them during our very long friendship. Ladies and Gentlemen it all started 35 years ago when I joined the then City University Business School as a full time Visiting Professor and created the Centre for Shipping, Trade and Finance and the MSc in Shipping, Trade and Finance and later on the MSc in Energy, Trade and Finance. A driving force in recruiting me in 1982 was the then Dean of City University Business School Professor Brian Griffiths, from 1985- 1991 Head of Mrs. Thatcher Policy Unit and now Lord Griffiths and Vice Chairman of Goldman Sacks.
I have never forgotten my National Bank of Greece years from 1962 - 1975, where I learned to read and understand the real world of Business and I started my research in Bank Shipping Finance based on well above six hundred loans, six hundred huge confidential files, which I will restructure at University of North Wales in Bangor. There my mind expanded, my way of thinking became broader and very analytical.
The University of Wales Press publishes in early 1979 my book "Bank Finance for Ship Purchase", which will become the book of the year and eventually the flagship of this academic publisher.
I should mention that Andreas Tsavliris equally kind and close friend then and now has offered several comments on the first three chapters of my book. It is time to renew my thanks to him.
From the very early period at City University Business School I believed strongly that our academic success will go in hand with the success of both, the Business School and the City University. I clearly followed this holistic approach all these 35 years. That is why you saw a few minutes ago the 50th anniversary video of Cass Business School instead of seeing my own personal photographs from a period of 50 years plus. I strongly believe, Ladies and Gentlemen, in the need of combined efforts and teamwork. When my students ask me for the recipe of success I invariably reply that this recipe has three levels: The first one is hard work; the second one is hard work and the third one is hard work. I have being working hard for very-very many years in my life. Being in a thanking mood I take the opportunity to very warmly thank my wife Anna for her strong support all these 45 demanding, very demanding and very happy years.
My wife is an archaeologist -our son is a historian- and as I said 17 years ago, on a similar occasion, at the Guildhall in London she finds me more interesting as I am getting older. Twelve days ago I had a cataract eye surgery. My wife kept reminding me the eye drops. Should you travel by airplane? Ask the Doctor! Do not carry a heavy suitcase, it is very dangerous. It is obvious her view was that I had reached the status of an archaeological object.
Going back to the Centre for Shipping, Trade and Finance I am aware that we created a new way of thinking in Shipping, in International business. Up until that time there was an excellent course in Maritime Studies at Cardiff. It had nothing to do though with Finance, Trade, Commodities, Energy and similar subjects. We added them. We created Shipping Finance as a Totally New Academic Area, Commodities also; and other topics. We created a similar approach for Energy; We added a totally new MSc course internationally the Energy, Trade and Finance in 2003. We teach students, Ladies and Gentlemen, knowledge, new techniques, their application in business. We give them tools for analysis which will become tools for their success. We stay away from politics, from political parties. Our job is to academically strengthen our students, to show them how they can apply theory into practice; to show them ways of thinking; of taking action; of taking decisions; to make them to think for the path of professional success in the tough, small and great world of international business networks. In this process you give and take. In this process you discover, they discover, -many of them- creation, as the ultimate purpose in life.
Yes ladies and Gentlemen, This is all about creation that makes life fascinating and worthwhile. I am grateful that I was given the opportunity to share my efforts with our Centre colleagues at Cass Business School, other also academics and 4.700 students from over 160 countries. Grateful indeed. “
Capital Link’s President, Mr. Nicolas Bornozis highlighted that the Capital Link Forum manages to attract top level speakers and delegates from Greece and abroad and this is indicative of the respect the global community pays to Greek Shipping. Capital Link's Forum provides an interactive platform to exchange ideas and views on critical industry topics in finance, capital markets, commercial and technical fleet management. He also highlighted that the visit of the President of the Shanghai Maritime Exchange, Mr. Zhang Ye, to Cyprus and Athens, is indicative not only of his role in internationalizing the profile of Chinese shipping and finance, but also of the significance and commitment China pays to Greece and Greek Shipping. And concluded by mentioning the transformational contribution of Professor Grammenos to Greek and global shipping.
TOPICS AND PRESENTATIONS
Throughout the day, there were presentations and panel discussions from the following:
Outlook & Opportunities in Shipping
Mr. James Frew, Director of Consultancy- Maritime Strategies International presented on “Outlook & Opportunities in Shipping” by stating that “At a time of increased uncertainty in most shipping markets, this presentation will explore the correlations between each of the major shipping markets, how shipyard overcapacity can distort the fundamentals underpinning earnings and what the key drivers of asset prices are. It also touches on possible game changers such as low-sulphur emissions, and provides a data-driven view of the best investment opportunities available in shipping today”.
Panel discussion - Bank Finance & Shipping
Mr. Jasel Chauhan, Partner - Holman Fenwick Willan
Mr. Gust Biesbroeck, Managing Director, Global Head of ECT Transportation Clients - ABN AMRO Bank NV
Mr. Philipp Wuenschmann, Head of Shipping – Berenberg Bank
Mr. Frans van de Bospoort, Managing Director and Co-Divisional Head of Shipping Finance, Eastern Hemisphere – DVB Bank
Mr. Shreyas Chipalkatty, Managing Director – Citigroup’s Global Shipping
Mr. Jasel Chauhan, Partner - Holman Fenwick Willan moderated this year's bank finance and shipping panel discussion and saw the banking panel – with representatives from ABN Amro, Citibank, DVB Bank and Berenberg Bank – exchanging views on the activity of the past year and the outlook for 2017. After a year of historic lows for charter rates and vessel values, the panel discussed the chances for recovery as well as the potential threats. The panel also discussed sale and purchase activity in the Greek market and how ship finance would develop in the coming years – bearing in mind the economic and political influences around the world.
"One Belt - One Road" - The New Silk Road and How it Will Affect Shipping
Mr. Georgios Teriakidis, Regional Business Development Manager - DNV GL – Region South East Europe & Middle East presented on "One Belt - One Road" - The New Silk Road and How it Will Affect Shipping. The presentation was giving a high level understanding of the Chinese project: One Belt One Road. This Chinese backed project goes through a large number of countries with the intention to create a virtual path from East to West and back. The plan includes the creation of important hubs along a land route as well as a sea route. These hubs can potentially change the regional trade and shipping routes, since they will become centres of transhipments. The implications of such a project are enormous and the intention of the presentation is to inform all about the potential benefits for shipping.
Financing and Operating Leasing Opportunities via Chinese and Japanese Leasing Institutions
Mr. Fedon Tomazos, Managing Director - Cass Technava presented the concept of the Financing and Operating Leasing Opportunities via Chinese and Japanese Leasing Institutions. Mr. Tomazos expressed the opinion that the Chinese and Japanese lessors can fill in the existing funding gap in ship finance. Mr. Tomazos shared part of the experience that Cass Technava has gained from the latest leasing transactions conducted between Chinese leasing companies and Greek owners. The asset class, the structure, the timing, the leverage and the cost of funding under leasing transactions were topics that were analyzed.
Panel discussion - Alternative Finance
Mr. Robert Wilkins, Partner - Reed Smith
Mr. Nino Mowinckel, Principal - Breakwater Capital
Mr. Martin Hugger, Managing Director - Meerbaum Capital Solutions
Mr. Alexis Atteslis, Managing Director - Oak Hill Advisors (Europe), LLP
Mr. John Hartigan, Senior Investment Manager - Northern Shipping Funds
Ms. Barbara Richter, Investment Professional – Varde Partners
Mr. Robert Wilkins, Partner - Reed Smith presented the panel to the audience and stated that “In light of the difficulties of obtaining traditional bank debt in the current market, Rob Wilkins, Partner – Reed Smith, will chair a panel which will discuss the alternative options available to ship owners to raise capital, either to refinance existing indebtedness or make new counter-cyclical investments. This will include alternative credit platforms, mezzanine debt structures, sale and leaseback financing, Chinese leasing, funds and private equity”.
Mr. Martin Hugger, Managing Director - Meerbaum Capital Solutions said that “In the current regulatory environment, it is increasingly difficult for banks to provide financing to shipping. This makes access to leverage challenging even for larger companies, but this is especially the case for smaller traditional owners active solely in shipping or for mid-size companies expanding their value chain into shipping. Alternative finance providers have looked into this situation and provide conservative funding for the acquisition of quality vessels. They are willing to base such funding on the owner’s competence, the asset quality and the ships value”.
Panel discussion - Capital Markets
Mr. Robert Lustrin, Partner - Seward & Kissel
Mr. Karl Fredrik Staubo, Managing Director - Clarksons Platou Securities
Mr. Todd Wilson, Senior VP of Maritime - Jefferies LLC
Mr. Larry Glassberg, Managing Director - Maxim Group
Ms. Isabella Schidrich, Senior Managing Director - NASDAQ&l