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Ariston Commercial Services: The new power on the freight trading and commercial management divisions

The fluctuations of the shipping market consist of a common phenomenon against which every ship owner has to take all necessary measures by utilizing various commercial tools. By doing so, the ship owner is protected from abrupt changes in supply and demand of tonnage and cargoes.

It is widely known that sudden changes in the freight market are induced mainly by a variety of economic and geostrategic incidents which in the short run affect the commercial and money markets. Mr Nikolaos Nikiforos, managing director of ‘Ariston Commercial Services’, annotates that in commercial management it is important to maintain a proper balance amongst cargoes and vessels so as to steer clear of these sudden changes in the freight market.

The creation of enterprises with such potential is mostly made by charterers/traders and commercial operators and less by ship owners since ship owners use, short to long-term time-charters as a means of countering freight market risks. In this case though, they become exposed to credit risks, which today are recognized as high, mainly due to the long chain of charterers involved in most of the charters and the limited control they have over the cargo on board.
However, it should be noted that the shipping market was trading in high levels for the past 5 years which hopefully means that most of the shipping companies hold the reserves needed to endure ‘moderate’ market depression in the medium term.

Moreover, Mr Nikiforos notes that the surprisingly sudden and steep downturn of the market which shocked everyone is caused by two reasons mainly. Firstly, due to the absence of iron ore shipments from Brazil to China, which reduced heavily the tone-miles demand from the market and overturned the supply and demand ratio. Only the commencement of the iron ore movement from Brazil to China can provide some comfort to the market imminently.
The second reason is the credit crisis which erupted at the same time with the above issue and, hence, contributed to the unmitigated drop of the dry cargo market. Unfortunately, the recovery of the freight market from this reason will need some time, unpredictable how much, so to restore the lost trust and eventually lead the markets to the true supply demand ratio.

Additionally, according to Mr Nikiforos an unknown percentage of new building contracts are expected to get cancelled, for a number of reasons, the extent of which will define the time needed for the recovery of the freight market.

In general, Mr Nikiforos strongly believes that the perspective of the shipping market is more than positive since the population of our planet is constantly increasing, especially in the Far East, Russia, Brazil, India, China and other developing countries all of which demonstrate a low age average for their population meaning constantly increasing demand for medium to long term.

In this rapidly changing shipping environment ‘Ariston Commercial Services Sa’ aims towards it’s establishment in the commercial management of cargoes and vessels providing also other commercial services to the maritime industry. The company is newly founded (February 2008) by Mr. Nikolaos Nikiforos who was working in Oceanbulk as a commercial director for the past 12 years, whilst in the past had served from key positions at other shipping companies. He is accompanied by Mrs Christina Karalaki, who has a long course in the chartering market whereas the past 9 years she was also working in Oceanbulk as chartering manager and a team of about ten employees. The company is orientated towards freight trading, operating and commercial management.

Mr. Nikiforos notes that from its early years, Greek shipping community mostly dealt with managing vessels. The concurrent commercial management of cargoes and vessels is a new region for the Greek shipping industry which can prove equally profitable for those who decide to get involved and, at the same time, will prove as unique solution to the problems which will evolve during this difficult phase the freight market is going through now. Ariston has utilized modern commercial tools including risk management and FFAs by configuring a well-balanced shipping portfolio which secures its profitability levels regardless of the short term direction of the market. Concluding, Mr. Nikiforos points that ‘Ariston’ will keep on developing  commercial products to tackle important contemporary problems in commercial management and hopes to provide new perspectives to the Greek, and not only, shipping market.

ELNAVI - November, 2008

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