By A. Tsimplakis
Mediterranean operators Attica Group and Grimaldi are apparently in the first stages of a "public discussion" over the future of Hellenic Seaways (HSW), given that coastal shipping rivals have found themselves "intertwined" in the latter, with Attica holding a razor-thin majority of 50.3 percent of HSW and Grimaldi 48.53 percent.
The looming developments for HSW comes days after Emanuele Grimaldi told reporters at a maritime conference on Sardinia that Attica Group's deal with Athens-based lender Piraeus Bank for a majority package of HSW will not get the approval of the EU Commission's competition directorate.
"We can't all be together - Superfast Ferries, Blue Star Ferries, Hellenic Seaways, ANEK though the consortium it has with Super Fast Ferries, and Minoan Group and Grimaldi Lines through HSW... Either they'll give us HSW, or they'll buy our share. However, because they (Attica group) don't have cash, I believe they'll give us ships and routes," he predicted.
Back in Piraeus, sources close to Attica Group said there was no proposal - by Grimaldi group - on the table, while adding that the goal of the coastal shipping company is to "maximize" results in favor of all shareholders and calling on the Italian side to "wait and see" what Attica's management of HSW will bring.
Nevertheless, no communication with the Grimaldi group has occurred, the same sources said.
Attica Group offered the highest bid for the majority of HSW shares, higher than its rival, Grimaldi.
Specifically, Attica Group will shell out 30.61 million euros for a little more than 39.03 million HSW shares, the bulk of which are held by Piraeus Bank. Additionally, it will issue 24,145,523 new common shares that will arise from an increase in its share capital.
On the other side of the ledger, Attica Group appears to have frozen new shipbuilding contracts and conversions from fuel oil to natural gas, at least until the HSW share package is transferred.