Tag: Alexander Christodoulakis

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Alternative Ship Financing

As CEO of PBS SA Capital Group, Alexander’s Christodoulakis’ passion is to assist companies to grow, expand and reposition themselves in the market.

Using a vertically integrated management system for his global portfolio at PBS SA Capital Group, this has helped to provide companies under management with a degree of stability, sustainability, and growth in volatile global market times. Alexander’s management system enables asset and ship equity growth via alternative ship financing solutions. The ship financing solutions include fleet optimization and ship refinancing.

The global shipping industry is a capital-intensive business. The industry’s players need CapEx financing, credit lines, and ship operational liquidity to handle the large scale opex of the intense daily cash flows. Over the past decades, international shipping enterprises relied on traditional ship finance, which was heavily dependent on bank financing, while alternative ship financing was limited or unattractive, up until the recent years.

However, the introduction of a number of alternative financing options in the wake of the global economic crisis created new means of alternative funding which in turn came in handy to those who needed it and had nowhere else to go. Significant changes to the market conditions in many parts of the shipping industry with newly created successful partnerships between financiers and experienced shipping groups.The shipping industry gained added advantages from capital markets in the recent years since they are able to issue debt easier as well as attract more equity participations. Initial public offers (IPOs) became popular among investors and shipping companies.

Today, there is a relevant disconnect between freight rates which remain low and are expected to increase and gain more traction during the winter months and the attractiveness of last year’s IPOs which were relatively low. But, is expected to grow, starting from the winter season as well. While Private equity (PE) funds have been focusing on opportunistic investment options and have been doing well until presently, a number of capital management companies invested heavily with a specific focus on the shipping industry and real estate market.  Private Equity funds provide flexibility in extending credit and also extend loans to riskier projects where banks would be more restricted from providing such funding.

The capital markets remain critical for the enhancement as well as the promotion of shipping business growth and the creation of corporate value since capital markets perform the following fundamental functions. As capital markets act as qualified intermediaries in providing funds required to finance new investment projects and sustain business growth.

This has created the important shift that has been seen in the recent years until today in the shipping industry. The international capital markets played a protagonist role of key importance, predominantly equity and bond markets, which provided a large share in fund-raising for shipping enterprises.

As shipping is a cyclical industry with idiosyncratic characteristics, strategic market timing remains of key importance to any shipping investment. The behavioral pattern of shipping business is related predominantly to the nature of shipping demand and supply, being sensitive to economic growth and trade, cyclicality in freight rates and vessel prices, demand and supply imbalances and fragmented business structures.

The issue of optimal capital structure blending with the appropriate funding method is critical for an industry that is capital intensive and its operation employs real assets (Ships) of high commercial value. Strategic decisions in shipping enterprises today, shift from simple profit maximization to corporate value enhancement. The capital intensity and magnitude of shipping investments always requires capital availability, but also careful vessel selection and reliable fleet diversification, based on solid capital frameworks is a must. In a highly dynamic and volatile business environment, modern shipping finance becomes highly sophisticated, innovative as well as complex in today’s market environment.

 

Air Freight vs. Ocean Freight

International shipping connects the global trade market. Exporters have major business choices to make in terms of how they transport their shipping. In the logistics industry, transporting goods requires a lot of consideration. Air freight and ocean freight are the two choices of transportation when shipping overseas. So how do businesses decide how they ship? Take a look at the factoral differences between air freight and ocean freight.

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Cost  

Many people assume that ocean freight is cheaper than air freight, however, that is not always the case. Depending upon the chargeable weight, which is how carriers charge for international shipping, size will determine whether air or ocean freight is cheaper. When calculating which option is cheaper, a company has to compare the transportation fees with the value of the goods. Whichever way the company ships, they still have to consider the customs and destination fees. Warehousing fees at seaports are typically more expensive than airports. As a general rule, when we have to deal with heavier and larger shipments, it is often more economical to choose sea freight transportation. However, as a shipment becomes significantly smaller, margins between the prices of the different transportation means get smaller and sometimes air freight could even turn out to be less expensive.

 

Speed 

It’s no question that time is money. Speed is a priority for many companies, including cargo shippers and their clients. Air freight is much faster than ocean freight, only taking about a day or two for arriving at the destined airport. The faster a business can provide goods to their customers, the greater customer satisfaction is.

As technology expands, so does the ability to track shipping because it’s a component of a positive experience. There’s a level of comfort that consumers have when they know where an item that they paid for is at all times, even if it’s in transit. Consumers expect a speedy delivery. Airfreight provides tracking and shows how quickly a package arrives from location to location until it’s delivered to a consumer’s door.

 

Reliability

 In the world of international shipping, businesses and consumers want reliability with their shipments. Ocean carriers are nowhere near as reliable as air freight. Not only does air freight transport goods in a matter of days, but trackability is much more efficient as well. Ocean freight can take multiple days, or even weeks to arrive at the destination. Although air freight has a shorter history than ocean freight, it’s quickly progressed in terms of reliability and matching up to the expectations exporters have in the logistics industry.

 

Following an ocean carrier arriving at a seaport, there’s still land travel time that must be accounted for. Air freight has the ability to arrive closer to the final destination because of the numerous airports inland vs. the seaports on the coasts.

 

Shipping (Maritime) and Offshore Drilling (Oil & Gas) Industries and Uses of Offshore Companies

AlexShippingA Glance at the Offshore Industries

The global increasing demand for energy has led the growth of the two major offshore industries. The global offshore oil and gas and the offshore wind energy. Key role in the Oil and Gas industry’s’ Exploration and Production (E&P) phases, plays a specialized category of the shipping industry which is broadly recognized as the offshore shipping industry. These Offshore ships are the vessels which are particularly set to support the offshore industry (oil drilling or wind). They are the main means of transportation for carrying supplies and personnel to the huge oil stations deep inside the ocean or for example, drill ships which are used as offshore platforms in the oil and gas E&P cycle.  Offshore ships can generally be categorized into PSVs (Platform Supply Vessels), AHTS vessels (Anchor Handling Tug Supply vessels), CSV’s (construction support vessels), offshore barges, with all the other types and sub-types of these specialized sea vessels. The offshore shipping industry, despite the challenges, has kept up well with many technological developments that have taken place through the years. It is a well-known fact that these capital intensive businesses are called to operate in a very tough environment. Offshore operations are inherently difficult to execute and the smallest error could be proven disastrous, whereas at the same time the investment at stake is significant. In the case of a failure in the operations, the environmental, human and economic cost is huge. Another important fact is that as the offshore shipping industry players grew in number, so did the competition.  Therefore, it is crucial for the offshore shipping companies to attain the highest level of effectiveness and efficiency without compromising their success and at the same time by keeping the standards of environmental and economic sustainability high.

The Impact of the Regulatory Framework

There are many factors that contribute to the prosperity of this industry and one of the most substantial of them has to do with the regulatory framework and the tonnage tax regime under which the offshore shipping companies operate. In the conventional, standardized shipping industry (bulkers, tankers, and passenger vessels) major changes took place in the past 25 years and basically this happened in parallel with the introduction of the commercial friendly regimes in the shipping industry. However, there is no uniformity in these regimes, especially when it comes to a specialized category of shipping like that of the offshore shipping. As it is understood, the jurisdiction of the company plays an important role here and the research that has been conducted on the matter shows that the regulatory framework in many countries is outdated or not focused enough on the offshore shipping industry.

The difference on the jurisdiction’s friendliness is primarily due to the particular tariff regime followed like for instance, if it is a tonnage tax regime, a tax efficient regime but without any incentives for shipping companies, or a regime that is based on specific shipping benefits and incentives. However, the overall tariff and legislation framework is also affected by the specific type of offshore business. The business types of Oil and Gas Drilling, Ocean Wind Farms and the Offshore construction industries, also define the tax environment in a great extent. From an onshore perspective (i.e. the jurisdictions that cannot be purely characterized as offshore despite their beneficial taxation structures), there is a positive correlation, between most of the countries and their respective offshore business types that offer an advantageous and constructive environment for offshore shipping operations. Thus for international shipping companies the process to select the proper location from where they will conduct their business operations, is a demanding one. Tonnage tax regimes – are based on the tonnage of the vessels should be carefully observed as they can differentiate between different vessel types or they are phased out in certain regions. Taking into consideration several variables, starting from the qualitative capabilities of the company’s ship management and the accurate matching of the company’s specialized operations with the respective tariffs framework, to cost efficiency and financing decisions along with the whole capital and operational structure.

Going Offshore and Public at the Same Time

Due to the fact that both financing and tax-regime selection decisions are crucial for a company’s growth, there are companies that combine a going public strategy with headquartering in their Stock Exchange listed entities or their subsidiaries in offshore jurisdictions of good and long-established reputation. There are numerous companies headquartered in offshore jurisdictions like Bermuda, Marshall Islands, and the British Virgin Islands, in various sectors and industries, represented in major and non-major stock exchanges worldwide like London Stock Exchange, NASDAQ, NYSE, OSLO, Singapore, Hong Kong and others. From the Energy, Minerals and Industrial Services sectors, there are companies in the Oil and Gas production, Contract Drilling, Engineering and Construction, Oil and Gas Pipelines, Oilfield Equipment and Services and Mining. From the Transportation sector the Marine Shipping industry (mainly Deep Sea Freight Transportation, Marine Cargo Handling, categories of shipping) which are largely represented in the international stock exchanges. In the Financial sector with the industries of Banking, Investment Management and the Insurance sector with Property and Casualty Insurance at its core, these also are represented in the stock exchanges. In conclusion, despite the complexity level of decision-making in the offshore shipping industry, there are alternatives in relocating or repositioning offshore and being publicly listed on a stock exchange as well. These alternatives are friendlier towards some businesses in this industry. Companies operating in this industry face frequent risks and challenges as they operate in difficult and demanding environments thus every factor should be carefully weighted.

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