The economic crisis and financial difficulties have opened new doors of opportunities for Greek shipping industrialists. The drop in demand has decreased the prices of large tankers and transport ships significantly and today's leaders in maritime transport have the opportunity to invest in new vessels despite the economic crisis. The Greek shipping tycoon Thanassis Martinos owns Eastern Mediterranean Maritime. This year so far, he has invested € 350 million, mainly in the construction of new oil tankers and the restoration of an old VLCC tanker. Many analysts believe that such actions are a positive sign indicating the recovering economic stability after a long period of market stagnation.
The downward trend in recent years is the result of oversupply, due to the large number of ships ordered before the economic crisis, which started in 2008 combined with the anemic growth in world trade after it. The Eastern Mediterranean Maritime order of two medium size tankers from South Korea, which cost 111 million dollars and have a capacity 52,000 tons each gives a positive signal for a possible upturn in the market. They will be ready by the end of 2013, when the economy is expected to start to recover. The company is planning that the new vessels will be able to operate every day and that their price could rise and under appropriate market conditions, they could be sold even before they are finished. The biggest investment that impresses the sector is the purchase of a VLCC tanker (Very Large Crude Carrier), built in 2002 with a capacity of 300,000 tons, which will cost the Martinos family € 34 million. In times of economic stagnation, similar assets are considered to be a problem, but apparently, shipping industrialists are providing for positive economic development to make such big steps during a crisis.
The general climate in the shipping industry is not very good, especially when considering that it has made its sacrifices in fighting the crisis. Omega Navigation - the shipping company with Greek interests - had to resort to liquidation, although it is one of the strongest players on the market and its shares are traded on Wall Street. Another company on the brink is the shipping company of the shipping tycoon Petros Georgioiaulous, who recently has warned investors that most likely he would resort to Article 11 of the Bankruptcy Code established in the United States, where the headquarters of the company is. This is due to liquidity problems that have arisen as result of the crisis as well as to the current adverse freight market conditions related with expensive credits.
It became clear during the last forum of representatives of the shipping industry in Athens last week that currently, the main way to survive is recapitalization of companies and lower costs. Thanassis Martinos’ investments come to refute this claim and bring a note of optimism for the future of shipping, which is a crucial sector for the Greek economic development. Eastern Mediterranean Maritime manages 17 oil tankers, 13 cargo ships and currently, it is awaiting the delivery of seven vessels. It is considered one of the most stable companies in the Greek shipping.