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Hellenic Shipping News interviews Mr. Antonios Venieris of Venieris Group of Companies.

Hellenic Shipping News interviews Mr. Antonios Venieris of Venieris Group of Companies.The future of freight rates in the container market, as well as the so called ?China? effect in the dry bulk market, were among the

issues we discussed with Mr. well as the so called ?China? effect in the dry bulk market, were among the issues we discussed with Mr. Antonios Venieris, head of the Venieris Group of Companies, which among others acts as an agent for Senator Lines and Hanjin Shipping.

In his exclusive interview, Mr. Venieris stayed positive about the future of rates both in the container and the dry bulk market. At the same time, he stated that the Greek service providing in shipping can only improve, since ?the new generation of young Greeks in shipping have a different mentality than the older generation and realise that apart from volume, quality of service is also significant to obtain the trust of their clients. Both volume and quality in service provision are very important in today?s very competitive world?.

1)Β What is the current situation in the container market, in terms of rates and world demand for services? Do you share the point of view that in 2007 rates will be pushed downwards due to an increase of newbuildings entering the market?
The container market begins to feel the effect of the increased tonnage offered by the newbuildings. The freight rates for the movement of containers from Far East to Europe remain stable with downward trends for the months to come as the load factors of the mega container vessels of 9,000 plus TEUS is not satisfactory for the lines. At this point we should take into consideration that the old tonnage still remains in the market as the phase out has not completed yet, but the general notion is that the oversupply of capacity will surely keep the freight rates stable if not decreasing in the coming year.

2)Β The summer ?boom? of the dry-bulk market seems to have reached its peak, but the rates have since remained high. What is your opinion about the mid-term and long-term prospects of the market?

Indeed from June onwards rates have picked up again and now remain at high levels. The sentiment in the market is that until the end of 2006 rates will remain strong, with rates in the quarters remaining at historically high levels.
It seems that as long as China continues its growth with the same pace, demand for employment of dry bulk vessels will also remain strong, sustaining very healthy freight rate levels. In the long term nobody can predict what may happen. Shipping is a cyclical industry and I believe it is too risky to make any long term predictions since many exogenous factors can react and affect the freight rates without any visible warning.

3)Β Do you believe that the ?China? effect in the bulk market is going to continue at the same pace? Is China?s leverage in the market too much, making the bulk trade too vulnerable in a possible slowdown of China?s economy?

Both world trade and world economy is greatly affected by the Chinese economy.
Therefore, it would seem logical that a slowdown in the rate of Chinese growth will have a big impact in the dry bulk market. The degree of this effect will probably be related to the degree of slowdown of the Chinese growth.
Generally I believe that the degree of the dependence of the dry bulk or even container freight market to the Chinese economy and trade is quite high. On the other hand, the Indian economy is growing rapidly, but it is not yet sure how much of a possible Chinese slowdown can be counterbalanced by the Indian growth.

4)Β Why is Greece lagging in terms of service providing (brokerage and chartering in particular, but also in P&I and financing) in comparison with the country?s position as the leader in seaborne trade and shipping in general?

It is widely believed that, in general, Greeks are more renown for their entrepreneurial skills rather than their skills to provide services when it comes to shipping.
That said the shipping service industry in Greece has grown significantly and at a steady pace in the last 5-6 years both in volume and quality.
We should note that it is difficult to compete with other Global shipping markets which have been established a long time ago and have earned a good reputation throughout these years.
The marine insurance market, for example, has been traditionally based in London as London is undoubtedly an established global insurance market for many decades and holds great expertise in this field.
Brokerage services (both S&P and chartering) have grown quite rapidly in Greece in the last few years. It is true that London brokers still retain (traditionally) the lead as they perform large volume of business which is crucial both for accumulating information and maintaining their expertise. Nevertheless, a good amount of business is also performed in Greece
Generally I feel optimistic that the new generation of young Greeks in shippingΒ Β have a different mentality than the older generation and realise that apart from volume, quality of service is also significant to obtain the trust of their clients. Both volume and quality in service provision are very important in today?s very competitive world.
In relation to ship financing services, we should note that in the last 6-7 years Greek banks have expanded substantially their exposure in Greek shipping. Let?s not forget that 10 years ago, Greek banks were very much smaller in size and hence also in ?lending capacity?. In the past few years, the dynamic growth of Greek banks has allowed them to expanding significantly their exposure in Greek shipping.
Today, although Greek banks still remain much smaller in comparison to most of their rivals, (most of which are large global financial institutions which have been involved in Greek ship financing for many years) they have managed to reach the same high standard of service quality and expertise provided by the large global international financial institutions.
Being Greek I am very happy to see that today 4 major Greek banks (Alpha, NBG, Emporiki and Piraeus Bank) are amongst the top 15 largest lenders in Greek shipping.

PS: I would like to thank my close friend Jason Dallas for providing the technical information and his views in order to back up with solid data the comments and predictions for the freight markets.

Company profile
Venieris Group of Companies was established in 1984 in Thessaloniki being the agent of DSR Lines which later was renamed Senator Lines and still is represented by our Group. In 1999 offices opened in Piraeus and from 2001 VenMar Shipping S.A. is the agent of Hanjin Shipping, one of the largest liner companies in the world, in Greece. Venieris Group also represents various feedering lines in the port of Thessaloniki as well as bulk shipping companies and cargo owners. A freight forwarding department offers total service to our customers and we hold a significant portfolio of exports for USA, Canada, Australia, UAE and Russia destinations.
Venieris Group has a joint venture company in Koper, Slovenia and in F.Y.R.O.M.
Our Group has an extensive network of partners in the Greek ports for bulk and liner activities as well as an exclusive network of agents in Spain, Portugal, Brazil, USA, India and China.

Nikos Roussanoglou ““ Hellenic Shipping News

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