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Leading Greek shipowners hit by low share prices

Leading Greek shipowners hit by low share prices
Two of Greece’s better-known names have again been in the headlines as they struggle to come to grips with the declining freight market and the impact it is having on global shipping share prices.

On 23 February Angeliki Frangou’s, flagship company, Navios Maritime Holdings, received notice from the NYSE regarding a compliance breach as the average closing price of its shares over a consecutive 30 trading-day period was less than $1. This was something she vowed to rectify when reporting the company had logged a net loss of $60.56m in the final three months of 2015 against a $4.98m loss in the same period of 2014, lifting the full year loss to $104.25m, after adjustments, more than double the 2014 loss.

Further, the company said "the NYSE’s notification has no impact on the company’s business operations."

At the end of the previous week 19 February George Economou’s DryShips announced a special meeting of shareholders had agreed to pave the way for one or more reverse stock splits of issued and outstanding common shares at a ratio of not less than one-for-two and not more than one-for-100, inclusive.

The bulker and oil rig owner, received a first warning a year ago from the Nasdaq that its stock price is out of compliance with the $1 limit.

At present there are 13 companies controlled by Greek interests listed in the US which are in breach of the $1 compliance as shipping shares have been swept up in the global share price slump. In addition to this 13, Greece’s two companies listed in London and four of the five listed in Athens, are truly “penny stocks”.

Even before shipping banks tightened up lending to the industry, Greek shipowners were embracing private equity, and in all, 38 Greek shipping companies are listed in New York, Athens and London, many over them for over a decade.

But just now over half of the listed companies, 22, have seen their stock price plunge, and hence capital value, by over 50% in the past 12 months, Seven of these companies have lost over 90%, including DryShips, of their capital value and another eight over 80%, including Ocean Rig.

Navios dropdown, Navios Maritime Partners is also flirting with the $1 compliance rule after having make something of a recovery in recent weeks which lifted it back into compliance.

The major fallers come from the containership and dry bulk sectors, though the most stable Greek operator of oceangoing tonnage, NYSE-listed Danaos Corp, which has seen its price slip around 12% year-on-year is a major containership owner.

Most stable shipping company is Crete-based ferry operator, Minoan Lines, which has traded at EUR2 in Athens for the past 12 months, but then it is over 90% owned by Italy’s Grimaldi Group and little share trading is done.

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