STEALTHGAS INC. ANNOUNCES ENTRY INTO AGREEMENTS TOTALING APPROXIMATELY $204 MILLION TO ACQUIRE FOUR NEW RESALE HANDY SIZE LPG CARRIERS, ONE SECOND HAND HANDY SIZE LPG CARRIER AND THE CONSTRUCTION OF FIVE NEW HANDY SIZE LPG CARRIERS.Â
STEALTHGAS INC. ALSO ANNOUNCES THE DELIVERY OF TWO NEW PREVIOUSLY ANNOUNCED PRODUCT CARRIERS AND THE DELIVERIES OF PREVIOUSLY ANNOUNCED SALES OF TWO HANDY SIZE LPG CARRIERS.
ATHENS, GREECE, March 3, 2008. STEALTHGAS INC. (NASDAQ: GASS) (the âCompanyâ), a ship owning company serving primarily the liquefied petroleum gas (LPG) sector of the international shipping industry, announced today that is has entered into agreements to acquire ten vessels described below for approximately $204 million in the aggregate.
The Company has ordered five new Fully Pressurized (âF.P.â) Handy Size LPG Carriers from a shipyard in Japan, three of which are 5,000 cbm and two are 7,500 cbm.Â Delivery of the 5,000 cbm vessels is expected at the end of September and November 2010 and the end of March 2011, respectively.Â Delivery of the 7,500 cbm vessels is expected at the end of July and December 2011, respectively.
The Company has also entered into agreements to acquire from an affiliate four new âF.Pâ Handy Size LPG Carriers, two 5,000 cbm vessels,Â the Gas Defiance and the Gas Shuriken, and two other 3,500 cbm vessels as yet unnamed,Â which are all currently under construction in Japan.Â The Gas Defiance is expected to be delivered to the Company by the end of July 2008 whereupon she will commence a one-year time charter to a major international gas trader.Â The Gas Shuriken is expected to be delivered at the end of October 2008 whereupon she will commence a two year time charter to the same charterer.Â The 3,500 cbm vessels are expected to be delivered at the end of April and June 2009, respectively.
The Company has also entered into an agreement with an affiliate to acquire the Gas Natalie, a 3,213 cbm, 1997 Japanese-built, F.P. LPG Carrier to be delivered by the end of September 2008.Â The vessel is deployed on a bareboat charter to a major international LPG operator, which runs until September 2011.Â The charterer has an option in September 2009 and 2010 to cancel the existing charter upon the payment of a cancellation fee in the amount of $336,000, if exercised in 2009, or $180,000, if exercised in 2010.
The aggregate charter rate for the Gas Defiance, the Gas Shuriken and the Gas Natalie is $667,500 per calendar month.
The Company also announced that it has completed the previously announced purchases of two new resale 47,000 deadweight M.R. type Product Carriers.Â The Navig8 Fidelity was delivered to the Company on January 9, 2008 and the Navig8 Faith was delivered to the Company on February 27, 2008.Â Both vessels, as previously announced, are employed on seven-year bareboat charters.
The Company also announced that it has completed two of the three previously announced agreed upon sales of Handy Size LPG carriers.Â The Gas Oracle was delivered to her new owners on January 28, 2008, the Gas Nemesis was delivered to her new owners on January 29, 2008 and the Gas Renovatio is expected to be delivered to her new owners on or around March 10, 2008.
Commenting on the acquisitions CEO Harry Vafias said âAs I discussed recently on our earnings call we have since the summer of 2007 found it increasingly difficult to acquire secondâhand Handy Size LPG vessels, our core sector, at attractive prices as due to the improved market conditions existing owners are reluctant to sell ships, or they are asking uneconomic prices for vessels in our opinion.
Therefore to continue increasing our presence in the Handy Size LPG carrier sector we have for the first time since we went public in October 2005 taken the decision to order five modern state of the art fully pressurized vessels from a shipyard in Japan with deliveries scheduled during the latter part of 2010 and during 2011.Â The construction will be undertaken by a very well established yard specializing in high quality LPG carriers and we feel that this new initiative by the Company further demonstrates the continued establishment and presence of STEALTHGAS INC in its main market sector.
Also as detailed above, to continue our growth over the short term we have entered into agreements to acquire from an affiliate four new Handy Size LPG vessels two 5,000 CBM Fully Pressurized vessels the Gas Defiance and the Gas Shuriken to be delivered by the end of July and October 2008, respectively, both of which we have already secured period employment upon.Â Plus two further 3,500 CBM F.P. ships, as yet unnamed, that will be delivered to us in the first half of 2009.Â Similarly, the Gas Natalie, a second hand vessel that was acquired by an affilliate, will be acquired in September 2008.Â Upon her delivery to us she will continue a three-year bareboat charter until September 2011.
With these acquisitions, in addition to the Gas Premiership that is being delivered to us this month, we will, as a minimum, increase the Companyâs LPG fleet on a net basis to 39 ships by the end of 2008.Â Additionally, we now have two new Product Carriers delivered to us that are deployed on long-term bareboat charters.
We believe these acquisitions of more modern and efficient tonnage is the beginning of the second phase of expansion for STEALTHGAS INC, following the very rapid initial phase that ran from the IPO in October 2005 until the end of 2007.Â All of the vessels to be delivered in 2008 have employment fixed upon them from the day they are delivered to us so they will further contribute to the companyâs growth in profitability during 2008 and beyond, while at the same time enhancing our secure and transparent earnings profile.
The ordering of brand new state of the art new tonnage at the upper end of our size sector to be delivered at a time when there is both negative worldwide fleet growth in our core sector, and when more LPG is expected to be produced worldwide, thus increasing the demand for shipment of the product, should in our view prove to be a sound and accretive strategic step in the development of our Company.â
Fleet Profile and Fleet Deployment:
The table below show the Companyâs fleet development and deployment as of today:
LPG Carrier Fleet
Product Tanker Fleet
- F.P.: Fully-Pressurized
- S.R.: Semi-Refrigerated
- M.R.: Medium Range
- Earliest date charters could expire.Â Most charters include options to shorten or extend their term.
- Gas Chios is currently employed under a time charter expiring in March 2008, which has been extended until March 2010.
- Lyne is employed under a bareboat charter until May 2009. Thereafter, at the chartererâs option, the bareboat charter can be extended for an additional year.
- Gas Emperor is currently employed under a time charter until June 2008.Â Thereafter she will be employed under a new four-year time charter to a major international gas operator until June 2012.
- Sir Ivor is employed under a bareboat charter until May 2009. Thereafter, at the charterâs option, the bareboat charter can be extended for an additional year.
- Gas Icon is currently employed under a time charter with an initial term expiring in July 2008, which has been extended for two years until July 2010.
- Gas Kalogeros is currently employed under a time charter until May 2008, which has been extended to April 2010.
- Gas Sincerity is currently employed under a time charter until July 2008, which has been extended to July 2009.
- Gas Spirit is currently employed under a time charter until June 2008, which has been extended to June 2010.
- Gas Zael is currently employed under a time charter until March 2008, which has been extended to March 2009.
- Gas Prophet has for the three year duration of bareboat charter been renamed the M.T. Ming Long.
- Gas Shanghai is currently employed under a time charter until September 2008, which has been extended until September 2009.
- Gas Legacy is currently employed under a time charter until April 2008, which has been extended for two years until April 2010.
- Gas Eternity has for the duration of bareboat charter been renamed the M.T. Yu Tian 9.
- Gas Sikousis is currently employed under a time charter until May 2009. Thereafter, at the chartererâ option, the time charter can be extended for two one-year periods, the first one to be negotiated in May 2009.
- Gas Ice is currently employed under a bareboat charter until April 2008. Thereafter, she will be employed under a new three year bareboat charter, until April 2011.
- Gas Premiership will commence a four year charter upon expected delivery in March 2008 expiring in February 2012.
- Gas Renovatio is contracted to be sold for delivery with her current charter attached during March 2008.
- Gas Defiance is expected to be delivered by the end of July 2008 whereupon she will commence a one year time charter to a major international gas trader.
- Gas Nathalie is expected to be delivered by the end of September 2008 whereupon she will continue a bareboat charter for a further three years to a major international LPG operator.Â The charterer has an option in September 2009 and 2010 to cancel the existing charter upon the payment of a cancellation fee in the amount of $336,000, if exercised in 2009, or $180,000, if exercised in 2010.
- Gas Shuriken is expected to be delivered by the end of October 2008 whereupon she will commence a two year time charter to a major international gas trader.
Headquartered in Athens, Greece, STEALTHGAS INC. is a ship-owning company serving primarily the liquefied petroleum gas (LPG) sector of the international shipping industry. STEALTHGAS INC. currently has a fleet of 36 LPG carriers with a total capacity of 156,399 cubic meters (cbm) and two MR Product Tankers. In addition, the company has also entered into agreements to acquire two second-hand LPG carriers with expected delivery in March and September 2008; four new resale LPG carriers with expected delivery from July 2008 and June 2009; and five newbuilding LPG carriers with expected delivery from September 2010 through December 2011.Â It has also agreed to sell one LPG carrier in its current fleet, with delivery to the new owner by March 2008.Â Once these acquisitions and sale of vessels are completed, STEALTHGAS INC.âs fleet will be composed of 46 LPG carriers with a total capacity of 210,499 cubic meters (cbm) and 2 MR Product Tankers with a total capacity of 94,000 deadweight tones (dwt). STEALTHGAS Inc.âs shares are listed on the NASDAQ Global Select Market and trade under the symbol âGASSâ.
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, managementâs 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 charterhire rates and vessel values, changes in demand that may affect attitudes of time charterers to scheduled and unscheduled drydocking, changes in STEALTHGAS INC.âs operating expenses, including bunker prices, dry-docking and insurance costs, 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.
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Andrew J. Simmons
Chief Financial Officer