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Maritime services on the forefront for International Shipping Bureau (Hellas)

Mr Panos Kirnidis, ISB (Hellas) Managing Director and Regional Manager for ISB Management Ltd (IML) in Europe and Africa, tells Hellenic Shipping News Worldwide how the consultancy is seeking to expand the already broad range of services it can

offer the maritime industry.Β  This year it is adding logistics to its extensive portfolio as it seeks to become the one-stop shop for ship owners and operators.

Could you give some details about ISB’s presence in Hellas?

ISB (Hellas) is part of the ISB Management Ltd (IML), established in New Jersey, USA in 1988 and one of the fastest growing shipping and maritime consultancies in the world. ISB (Hellas) opened an office in Piraeus in 2001 with Panos Kirnidis as both Managing Director ISB (Hellas) and since 2008 as Regional Director for IML Europe and Africa.
ISB has offices in major ports and cities in 17 countries across the globe, including Piraeus, Miami, New Orleans, Panama City, Bergen, Limassol, Moscow, Odessa, Dubai, Tartous, Alexandria, Lagos, Abidjan, Cochin, Singapore and Shanghai, and its ISO 9001-2000 certification reflects the high quality services it can offer. ISB also has agency representatives in about another 30 countries.
That high quality standard is evident in the work done by Panos Kirnidis and the team at ISB (Hellas). Its committed and efficient team of professionals ““ including attorneys, ISM auditors, marine surveyors, deputy registrars and engineers ““ advises and manages the wide range of tasks that ship owners, agents, shipbuilders, offshore rig operators, marine bankers, marine insurance underwriters, and shipping attorneys face when they are buying, installing, managing, maintaining, insuring and compensating, selling and mortgaging ships or maritime equipment.
Additionally, ISB (Hellas) is the exclusive regional agent for the International Register of Shipping (USA), which provides ship classification and certification services.

What types of services do you provide?

The widely varied skill set at ISB (Hellas) allows us to provide a broad range of services, catering to most of the needs of ship owners and operators. The services we offer include:
“ΆΒ Β Β  Shipping finance,
“ΆΒ Β Β  Sales and Purchasing,
“ΆΒ Β Β  Vessel registration,
“ΆΒ Β Β  Offshore Corporations,
“ΆΒ Β Β  Marine Surveys & Ship Classification,
“ΆΒ Β Β  Seafarer’s License,
“ΆΒ Β Β  Communication Accounting Authority,
“ΆΒ Β Β  Marine Insurance,
“ΆΒ Β Β  Ship management and Chartering,
“ΆΒ Β Β  Naval Architecture and Offshore consultancy,
“ΆΒ Β Β  Commodities Trading,
“ΆΒ Β Β  Cargo Inspection,
“ΆΒ Β Β  Consultancy Services.

Since you have such an extensive portfolio of services, would you say that all is covered, or are you planning to launch new products into the market during 2010?

ISB (Hellas) is always looking to provide more services to its customers ““ and to potential new customers. For instance, in the coming year, we are planning to launch logistics services. It’s through this innovative and comprehensive approach that we aim to become a one-stop-shop for all our clients’ needs.

What strategic advantages can you provide to clients, with regards to the competition?

Our global network and our strategy to meet all our clients’ needs through the one stop-stop-shop for the maritime industry makes us stand out from the competition.
Among the companies in Panama acting as Legal Representatives of shipowners, only ISB (Hellas), working under the auspices of ISB (Panama), has representation of its own in Greece. This facilitates a seamless transaction of ship and offshore company registration activities for shipowners.
Furthermore ISB (Hellas) is St. Kitts and Nevis maritime registrars, Sierra Leone maritime registrars and a regional office in that country. ISB (Hellas) also works as exclusive agents to the International Register of Shipping, offering ship classification and certification services.
ISB (Hellas) provides this wide range of services at competitive prices and we maintain personal relationships with all of our clients. Therein lies the key to our success. Because the consultancy is also a ship manager, we understand the problems that such responsibilities entail and we have the experience and the know-how to tackle them.

Which services are the most popular among your clients?

The most popular services ISB (Hellas) provides are Vessel Registration, Marine Surveys and Ship Classification. This embraces a broad range of sub-sectors such as Shipping Finance, Sales & Purchasing, Marine Insurance, Ship Management and Chartering.
There’s also great demand for Seafarer’s Licenses and Offshore Corporations.

Shipping finance is among the most interesting products you offer. Could you give us some details, as well as your views about the current financing environment for shipping?

Indeed, shipping finance is perhaps ISB (Hellas)’s one of core services, but currently, due to the current state of the world economy, shipping finance for many is too tight and access to money has been squeezed. However, ISB’s principals can provide finance for new-buildings and vessels less than 10 years old ““ a factor in the consultancy’s continuing success.

Given that you are also active in the ship management and chartering field of business, could you tell us which will be the “winner strategies” in today’s market conditions?

Our Ship Management and Chartering department continues to provide assistance to ship owners and operators.
One of our “winning strategies’ is providing globally integrated management in the true sense. We have positioned ourselves well in the market by offering ancillary services through our associates and branch offices. For instance, the shipowners who entrust their ships to us benefit from cost savings. Agency fees, logistics and insurance are provided on a “cost basis’ through our associates and branches, and we offer easy payment through our Piraeus office.
In general, today’s dry cargo market is profitable for handymax, supramax and panamax, but the capesize market dropped as a result of increased competition when a significant number of new vessels were launched in the last two years. Container vessel rates have continued to fall due to the world economic crisis and many vessels remain idle or have been laid up and there little prospect of a quick recovery.
Tanker vessels such as VLCCs, suezmax, and aframax have benefited from the increased demand for crude following bad weather in the US and Europe. CPP tankers have also benefited, rising 30-35 percent since last winter.

Do you think that the future of maritime services lies in the establishment of “one-stop-shops”, in order to facilitate ship owners and brings costs down?

Absolutely, this is our vision at IML, which is the management company of all ISB offices including ISB (Hellas). As a regional director of IML, I know that IML is working to provide our clients with a comprehensive and cost-effective one-stop-shop service. This way, they can be reassured that we will meet the same high quality standards across all the services.

During the past few years, there’s been a lot of debate about improving the legislative framework in Hellas, in order for Piraeus to evolve into a true maritime “cluster” of services. How far away are we from such a status?

We still have a lot of progress to make. The Greek government and Greek ship owners need to invest much more time and effort in making our country a good place to do business so that we attract the full range of companies offering services to the maritime industry. We need a good, clear legislative framework so that everyone coming to do business here feels we have an attractive tax regime and that they are operating under the same standards and rules as they do elsewhere. Then we will attract the full “cluster’ of services.

Do you think that this should have already been done, in order to attract more companies and shipping services in the country?

We realise that there are a lot of pressures on the government to look after many different sectors of society and the economy. But the maritime sector is vital to this country’s prosperity. As we attract more consultancies, finance house and insurances companies, this will help us build a stronger case for the government to act more quickly.

Nikos Roussanoglou, Hellenic Shipping News Worldwide

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