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Piraeus port poised to tap benefits March 26, 2008

Posted by grhomeboy in Business & Economy.
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Piraeus port poised to tap benefits of Greek shipowners’ flight from British capital > More than 1,200 shipping companies, employing more than 12,000 highly specialized staff, were based in the port of Piraeus in 2007, compared to 900 in 2005.

At a time when efforts are being made to ensure that Piraeus, Greece’s main port city, gains a leading place among international shipping centers by enhancing both infrastructure and services, London-based Greek shipowners are seriously considering whether to stay or move as a result of tax reforms planned by the British government.

For decades, income generated off British soil by non-British residents enjoyed tax-free treatment. More than 100 Greek shipowning families based in London are now thinking of moving to Piraeus, primarily for two reasons: significant infrastructure improvement projects have been carried out in the past six years, while the government has taken certain measures to guarantee a stable and competitive institutional environment for shipping companies.

During a recent visit to London, Merchant Marine Minister Giorgos Voulgarakis gave assurances to Greek shipowners that the government intends to maintain the favorable tax regime applicable for the Greek shipping community, which controls 8.7 percent of the world fleet, with 4,173 vessels. This translates into a capacity of 260,929,221 dwt (deadweight tons), which represents 16.4 percent of overall world shipping.

“We are considering taking additional measures in favor of shipowners who might move their base to Greece,” Voulgarakis is said to have told a gathering of Greek shipowners. “We are going ahead with the creation of a cluster arrangement, based on international standards and Greek features, aimed at promoting Piraeus as a shipping center with global linkages.”

In Greece, shipping companies are not taxed either on income earned abroad or on property purchases and income from capital denominated in US dollars. In 2007, foreign exchange inflows to Greece from shipping amounted to 17 billion, a figure that accounts for 7 percent of the country’s GDP.

The contribution of Greek companies to the British economy is estimated at some $10 billion annually. A study by the British Chamber of Shipping showed that if Greek shipowners decided to leave the city, the economy will lose almost one billion pounds, not to mention some 120,000 professionals in medium and high-ranking executive posts, who will have to move out with their families.

The British government is planning certain changes for non-citizens living in the country, who in the coming years would have to pay 30,000 pounds ($62,000) if they want to avoid paying tax on income from abroad.

But London’s losses could be Piraeus’s gain, in the framework of legislation that is supportive of shipping operations. In the past six years, 30 shipping firms have set sail for Piraeus and Athens. London-based shipowners believe that a significant upgrade of Piraeus port could result in a large influx of companies from the British capital.


Greece plans tax breaks to attract shipping firms March 7, 2008

Posted by grhomeboy in Business & Economy.
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Merchant Marine Minister Giorgos Voulgarakis has been informing London-based Greek shipping firms, which control about 20 percent of the Greek-backed commercial shipping fleet, on the benefits of relocating to Piraeus.

The government is putting together a series of incentives, which may include tax breaks, to draw leading shipping firms from around the world to Piraeus as Greek shipowners start to express interest in moving out of London.

Shipping is facing the possibility of a major shift, with some of the sector’s largest players considering a move away from the British capital in response to plans from authorities to introduce a new tax on foreign individuals.

Merchant Marine Minister Giorgos Voulgarakis, who met with Greek shipowners in the British capital last week, said yesterday Greece will aim to create a more favorable business environment in Piraeus.

«I explained there is institutional stability and we have decided to look at tax measures that can help,» the Minister told Skai Radio. «Steps that will allow people to come to Piraeus, not just Greeks from London but also shipowners of other nationalities.»

Talk of Greek family-owned shipping companies moving out of London has been sparked by plans from Britain’s Treasury to charge non-domiciled foreign residents with a new 30,000-pound (39,720-euro) tax. According to sources, about 30 companies have moved to Athens from London since 2000 due to concerns they would become liable for income tax on foreign earnings.

However, the question remains as to where these businesses may move after having been in London for a number of years. «We need to wait and see what the impact might be. There is already a lot of business being done in Piraeus,» said a senior bank source. About one-quarter of the global shipping business is currently done through Piraeus, which competes with Cyprus, Dubai, Singapore, New York and London in the maritime services industry.

Shipowners opposed to tax for pollution March 4, 2008

Posted by grhomeboy in Business & Economy, Environment.
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Two leading Greek maritime associations, which control the world’s largest fleet, yesterday strongly opposed a plan to tax ships for emitting pollutants, saying they were the cleanest mode of transport.

The Union of Greek Shipowners and the London-based Greek Shipping Cooperation Committee issued the joint warning after holding talks with Greek Merchant Marine Minister Giorgos Voulgarakis in London over the last few days.

“Maritime transport is the best way of preserving the environment,” the statement suggested, underlining that it was the least polluting form of transportation. It said moves to include shipping companies – which have so far escaped emission-cutting regulations – would “lead to a fall in maritime trade… and raise the price of goods and services.”

About 90 percent of world trade by volume moves via the sea, according to estimates. A soon-to-be published United Nations study reproduced in the British press says the annual carbon dioxide emissions from shipping total 1.12 billion tons per year, or 4.5 percent of the world’s total.

Shipowners eye property ashore November 9, 2007

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Increasing investment moves by shipowners, including takeovers and plans for takeovers, tend to be regarded as opportunistic, rather than strategic, by the Greek domestic market.

With few exceptions, those shipowners who have in the past proven that “they are here to stay”, the specific industry is believed not to have any particular strategy but to be desperately in search of opportunities in which to place their capital due to the high liquidity produced by maritime operations in recent years.

“Scenarios that are being discussed on the market about shipowners entry into banking groups, for instance, should be treated as merely speculative and that is why they are not likely to be fruitful,” a telecoms market official, who recently had the experience of negotiations with a major shipping group wishing to enter the telecoms market, said. “It is no accident that a large portion of shipowners’ funds are invested in the real estate market, since it gives them security, wherever they hail from,” he added.

According to a major real estate firm, it has been recently calculated that about one  percent of Greek land has come under the control of shipping firms in recent years. The liquidity generated by maritime operations has been and still is of such volume that it necessarily had to be invested somewhere, somehow. However, new alternatives are now being sought, as it seems that conditions in the real estate market have changed. Such alternatives include the acquisition of large shares, but not majority shares, in listed companies of small and medium capitalization.

Shipowners “are often driven by instinct to such placements. Securing surplus returns is their primary target, and this no harm, since that is what all investors are after,” said a banking sector official who does business with shipping firms on a daily basis. The official added that since it is shipowners who now hold most of the cash, they are attracting all sorts of proposals. However, the official had his own reservations. “I don’t believe that a scenario of shipowners wishing to buy the majority shares of Geniki Bank is true. To run a bank, you need specialized management, and maritime businesses simply do not have it,” he said.

Increase in shipping firms in Greece October 16, 2007

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The number of shipping companies based and active in Greece has grown by 4.7 percent in 2007 compared with last year, reaching 725 from 693 in 2006, according to Petrofin Research SA.

This has put an end to the decline that started in 1998, when companies were closing one after another. Back then there were 926 companies in Greece, but they declined to just 690 in 2005 due to the lack of competitiveness at small shipping firms who usually manage older vessels.

“The Merchant Marine Ministry measures in 2006 aimed at increasing the competitiveness of the national register had a positive impact, stopping the flight of ships from the Greek flag, while their mass repatriation has also begun,” Hellenic Shipowners’ Union sources said. “This is why most of the 612 vessels ordered will raise the Greek flag.”

Small shipping companies, those owning up to eight vessels, are proving to be the backbone of the industry in Greece as they account for 82.3 percent of all Greek shipping companies based in this country. The Petrofin survey found that of the 725 shipping companies based in Greece, 307 (42.3 percent) own one or two ships. Another 165 companies (22.7 percent) manage three to four ships, while 126 companies (17.3 percent) own between five and eight ships. The 63 companies that own nine to 15 vessels account for 8.6 percent, while there are 35 firms (4.8 percent) with 16 to 24 ships and just 29 companies (4 percent) with 25 or more vessels.

The week ahead > conferences and forums October 15, 2007

Posted by grhomeboy in Energy, Shows & Conferences.
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Tuesday >

  • Greek-German Chamber of Thessaloniki hosts a conference titled «Alternative Energy Sources,» at 11 a.m. at the Thessaloniki German School. German Green Party MP Hans-Josef Fell will be the keynote speaker. For further information call 2310 327733 or visit > www.german-chamber.gr.

Wednesday >

  • Piraeus Chamber of Small and Medium-Sized Industries and the National Organization of Small and Medium-Sized Enterprises and Handicrafts (EOMMEX) will hold a conference on «Women Entrepreneurship,» at 6 p.m. at the Municipality of Megara.
  • British-Hellenic Chamber of Commerce is hosting a conference on «New Amendments to SA Company Law,» at 5 p.m. at the NJV Athens Plaza Hotel. Deputy Development Minister Giorgos Vlachos to speak. For further information call 210 7210361 or visit > www.bhcc.gr.

Thursday >

  • Ninth annual Greek Ship Finance Forum begins at 9 a.m. at the Athens Ledra Marriott Hotel. For further information call 210 9858809 or visit >  www.marinemoney.com.
  • Center for Renewable Energy Sources (CRES) hosts the second international exhibition «Energy 2007 – Renewable Energy Sources – Energy Management and Savings,» at 2 p.m. at the Helexpo Palace in Maroussi. To Sunday. For further information call 210 6141164.

Friday >

  • Athens Institute for Education and Research hosts an international conference on «Business and Economic Research,» at the Athens Chamber of Small and Medium-Sized Industries, 18 Academias Street, Athens. For further information call 210 3634210.