Emboldened by its successful restart of Neorion Shipyard last year, Greek-US investor ONEX Technologies seeks to repeat the trick at ailing Hellenic Shipyards, the country’s biggest and most historic shipbuilding facility.

ONEX chief executive Panos Xenokostas is expected to submit a restructuring plan for Hellenic, with the blessings of Greece’s incoming government that won an election on 7 July with the pledge to boost investment in the debt-laden country.

“We’re very glad to see our vision of shipyard regeneration … becoming a national [government-backed] strategy,” Xenokostas told reporters last week after meeting Greek infrastructure minister Adonis Georgiadis in Athens.


Georgiadis said the new government took note of how well Neorion’s restructuring was progressing and that “the same steps” would be done at Hellenic Shipyards. Talks with ONEX will continue next week, added.

Neorion at the Greek island of Syros had shrunk to a mere scrapping facility but is now crawling back to its previous shiprepair capacity.

ONEX has not yet revealed how it plans to turn Hellenic around. At Neorion, it assumed part of the yard’s debts while pledging to invest in new ship repair and ship building facilities. The Greek government, in turn, agreed to cancel some of the yard’s overdue tax and social security debts. Employees signed new contracts.

Doing something similar at Hellenic Shipyards, a company saddled with debts and complex legal disputes, will be a much steeper challenge.

We’re very glad to see our vision of shipyard regeneration … becoming a national [government-backed] strategy

Infrastructure minister Adonis Georgiadis

Originally known as Skamarangas shipyard after its foundation by legendary Greek shipowner Stavros Niarchos, Hellenic was nationaliSed and put in liquidation in the 1980s. The company was privatised again in 2001 and sold on to ThyssenKrupp four years later.

Chequered history

In 2009, the shipyard passed in the hands of Abu Dhabi Mar LLC. By 2018 the investor had fallen out with the Greek government, which appointed a special administrator to attempt yet another sale.

The yard's chequered history gave rise to an almost impenetrable thicket of disputes, arbitrations and court decisions in which Greece, investors and the European Union have been suing each other over matters such as illegal state aid and breach of contractual obligations.

Asset sell-off

In the most recent development late last year, the European Court of Justice ordered Greece to recover a lump sum of €10m ($11.2m) for failing to recover past state aid, with an additional €7m charged for every six months of delay.

In the meantime, Hellenic Shipyards has suspended operations and is selling real estate, tug boats and floating docks to raise cash.

The company's facilities stretch over an area of more than 800,000 square metres. It has two graving docks, one of which is said to be among the biggest in the Eastern Mediterranean with a capacity to handle ships of up to 400,000 dwt.