ATHENS, Greece, Feb. 3, 2014 (GLOBE NEWSWIRE) -- STEALTHGAS INC. (Nasdaq:GASS), a ship-owning company primarily serving the liquefied petroleum gas (LPG) sector of the international shipping industry, announced today as part of its fleet expansion program the acquisition of two newbuilding LPG vessels. Both vessels will be constructed in Japan. The first vessel is a 5,000cbm LPG carrier scheduled to be delivered in the fourth quarter of 2014; while the second vessel is a 3,500cbm LPG carrier scheduled to be delivered in the first quarter of 2015. This brings the total number of LPG carriers the Company expects to take delivery of from March 2014 to August 2015 to 17 for a total cost of approximately $345 million and the total value of its assets including the 17 vessels to approximately $1 billion.
Deposits of $75 million have already been paid and the Company intends to fund the remaining capital expenditure of approximately $270 million through bank finance and available cash. The Company has concluded negotiations with banks for firm commitments to finance 13 of these vessels for an amount up to $185 million, and has received indicative offers for additional bank finance of approximately $50 million for the remaining vessels including the two vessels whose acquisitions were announced today. The Company expects to conclude the remaining financing arrangements within the current quarter. The Company has entered into negotiations with the financing banks with respect to credit facilities under which balloon payments of circa $33 million are scheduled to be repaid during 2014 and based on their indications received expects to conclude the refinancing of such credit facilities within the second quarter of 2014.
The Company also announced the conclusion of the following chartering arrangements:
A one year time charter for its 5,018cbm, 1997 built, LPG carrier, Gas Monarch, to an international trading house until January 2015.
A three month extension of the current charter for its 5,014cbm, 1996 built, LPG carrier, Lyne, to an international gas trader, until April 2014.
A three month extension of the current charter for its 5,000cbm, 2003 built, LPG carrier, Sir Ivor, to an international gas trader until April 2014.
An eight year extension of the current charter for its 3,500cbm, 2009 built, LPG carrier, Gas Astrid, to an established owner-operator, until April 2022.
An eight year extension of the current charter for its 3,500cbm, 2009 built, LPG carrier, Gas Exelero, to an established owner-operator, until June 2022.
A four year extension of the current charter for its 4,011cbm, 2001 built, LPG carrier, Gas Zael, to an established owner-operator, until February 2018.
A four year extension of the current charter for its 4,123cbm, 2000 built, LPG carrier, Gas Sincerity, to an established owner-operator, until August 2018.
An eight year bareboat charter for its first eco newbuilding a 7,200cbm LPG carrier, to be delivered March 2014, to an established owner-operator.
An eight year bareboat charter for its second eco newbuilding a 7,200cbm LPG carrier, to be delivered June 2014, to an established owner-operator.
Excluding the first 3 vessels all other charters include purchase options by the charterer.
The Gas Astrid and Gas Exelero were scheduled to be drydocked in 2014, but as a result of the bareboat charter extensions, the drydocks will be undertaken by the charterers. As a result the Company was left with only one vessel scheduled to be drydocked during 2014, the Gas Emperor, which underwent drydock repairs earlier in January.
The average Time Charter Equivalent rate for all these extensions excluding the two 7,200cbm vessels is approximately $285,000 per month whereas the Time Charter Equivalent rate for the two 7,200cbm vessels is $335,000 per month.
With the above chartering arrangements charter coverage for the current fleet is elevated to 75% for 2014 and 41% for 2015. Three vessels are currently operating in the spot market. There are also three newbuilding vessels scheduled to enter the fleet in the second half of 2014 for which charters have not yet been arranged.
The Company has also announced the hiring of two senior executives. Mr. Stavros Papantonopoulos has joined the company as Finance Manager. As a result, Mr. Harry Vafias will assume the role of interim CFO replacing Mr. Constantinos Sistovaris. Mr Papantonopoulos was previously employed by Goldman Sachs in New York followed by Eurobank Properties S.A. and before joining the Company he was a senior analyst for a well known US shipping fund. In addition, Dr. Diamantis Andriotis has joined the company as Chief Technical Officer (CTO) to oversee the technical management of the growing fleet and vessels under construction. Dr Andriotis was technical manager at Stealth Maritime and holds a Doctorate degree in mechanical engineering from City University, while he is also a member of the technical committees of some of the leading classification societies.
Mr. Vafias commented, "I would like to welcome both Mr. Papantonopoulos and Dr. Andriotis and believe that with their experience and vigor they will be valuable additions to our fast growing company. I would also like to thank Mr. Sistovaris for stepping in to provide his assistance at a time we needed to secure bank financing for our expanding fleet. We stay committed to growing this company further and in that respect have added two more eco newbuilds to our orderbook at a time when markets have been improving compared to the seasonal weakness experienced in previous quarters and now with 17 eco LPG carriers under construction with prompt deliveries we offer great optionality to our shareholders."
Fleet Profile and Fleet Deployment
The table below shows the company's fleet development and deployment as of today:
|LPG Carrier Fleet|
|Gas Cathar||7,517||F.P.||2001||Time Charter||Jul-16|
|Gas Esco||7,500||F.P.||2012||Time Charter||Jun-17|
|Gas Premiership||7,200||F.P.||2001||Time Charter||Oct-16|
|Gas Haralambos||7,000||F.P.||2007||Time Charter||Jul-16|
|Gas Flawless||6,300||F.P.||2007||Time Charter||Jul-14|
|Gas Monarch||5,018||F.P.||1997||Time Charter||Jan-15|
|Gas Emperor||5,013||F.P.||1994||Time Charter||Dec-14|
|Gas Texiana||5,001||F.P.||1995||Time Charter||Jan 14|
|Gas Icon||5,000||F.P.||1994||Time Charter||Aug-14|
|Gas Defiance||5,000||F.P.||2008||Time Charter||Jan-15|
|Gas Shuriken||5,000||F.P.||2008||Time Charter||Oct-14|
|Gas Cerberus||5,018||F.P.||2011||Time Charter||Jul-14|
|Gas Myth||5,018||F.P.||2011||Time Charter||Nov-14|
|Gas Ethereal||5,000||F.P.||2006||Time Charter||Sep-14|
|Gas Inspiration||5,000||F.P.||2006||Time Charter||Aug-14|
|Gas Kaizen||4,109||S.R.||1991||Time Charter||Mar-15|
|Gas Legacy||3,500||F.P.||1998||Time Charter||Mar-14|
|Gas Alice||3,500||F.P.||2006||Time Charter||May-14|
|Gas Enchanted||3,500||F.P.||2006||Time Charter||May-14|
|Gas Arctic||3,434||S.R.||1992||Time Charter||Apr-14|
|Gas Ice||3,434||S.R.||1991||Time Charter||Jan-15|
|Gas Galaxy||3,312||F.P.||1997||Time Charter||May-16|
|Gas Pasha||3,244||F.P.||1995||Time Charter||Jan-15|
|Gas Crystal||3,211||S.R.||1990||Time Charter||Apr-14|
|TOTAL LPG CARRIER FLEET:||266,422|
|Navig8 Fidelity||47,000||MR Product Tanker||2008||Bareboat||Jan-16|
|Navig8 Faith||47,000||MR Product Tanker||2008||Bareboat||Feb-16|
|Alpine Endurance||46,000||MR Product Tanker||2009||Time Charter||Jul-16|
|Spike||115,804||Aframax Oil Tanker||2010||Bareboat||Aug-15|
|TOTAL TANKER FLEET:||255,804|
(1) Earliest date charters could expire.
About STEALTHGAS INC.
Headquartered in Athens, Greece, STEALTHGAS INC. is a ship-owning company primarily serving the liquefied petroleum gas (LPG) sector of the international shipping industry. STEALTHGAS INC. currently has a fleet of 38 LPG carriers with a total capacity of 182,322 cubic meters (cbm), three M.R. product tankers and one Aframax oil tanker with a total capacity of 255,804 deadweight tons (dwt). The Company has contracted for seventeen newbuilding LPG carriers with expected delivery by the end of 2015. Once the delivery of these acquisitions is completed, STEALTHGAS INC's fleet will be composed of 55 LPG carriers with a total capacity of 266,422 cubic meters (cbm). STEALTHGAS INC's shares are listed on the NASDAQ Global Select Market and trade under the symbol "GASS".
Matters discussed in this release may constitute forward-looking statements. Forward-looking statements reflect our current views with respect to future events and financial performance and may include statements concerning plans, objectives, goals, strategies, future events or performance, and underlying assumptions and other statements, which are other than statements of historical facts. The forward-looking statements in this release are based upon various assumptions, many of which are based, in turn, upon further assumptions, including without limitation, management's examination of historical operating trends, data contained in our records and other data available from third parties. Although STEALTHGAS INC. believes that these assumptions were reasonable when made, because these assumptions are inherently subject to significant uncertainties and contingencies which are difficult or impossible to predict and are beyond our control, STEALTHGAS INC. cannot assure you that it will achieve or accomplish these expectations, beliefs or projections. Important factors that, in our view, could cause actual results to differ materially from those discussed in the forward-looking statements include the strength of world economies and currencies, general market conditions, including changes in charter hire rates and vessel values, charter counterparty performance, changes in demand that may affect attitudes of time charterers to scheduled and unscheduled dry dockings, changes in STEALTHGAS INC's operating expenses, including bunker prices, dry-docking and insurance costs, ability to obtain financing and comply with covenants in our financing arrangements, or actions taken by regulatory authorities, potential liability from pending or future litigation, domestic and international political conditions, potential disruption of shipping routes due to accidents and political events or acts by terrorists. Risks and uncertainties are further described in reports filed by STEALTHGAS INC. with the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission.
Visit our website at www.stealthgas.com
Harry Vafias Chief Executive Officer STEALTHGAS INC. 011-30-210-6250-001 E-mail: