zoom Greece-based dry bulk shipowner Safe Bulkers, Inc. has agreed with ING Bank N.V. to amend certain terms of an existing committed revolving credit facility of up to USD 32 million for its newbuilds.The loan, which has a five-year duration period, is secured by two newbuild vessels.Following this amendment, Safe Bulkers said that its the total consolidated liabilities divided by its total consolidated assets charter inclusive “must not exceed 90% until and including year-end 2017 and 85% from 2018 onwards.”While other financial covenants state that the ratio of the company’s EBITDA to its interest expense must be not less than 2.0:1 on a trailing 12 month basis, applicable from 2018 onwards.Furthermore, under the amendment the consolidated net worth of Safe Bulkers, defined as total consolidated assets charter inclusive less total consolidated liabilities is waived until and including year-end 2017 subject to a minimum fleet size of 30 vessels and not less than USD 150 million from 2018 onwards.The company added that the covenants include the aggregate market value of the vessels under the facility, which, divided by the aggregate outstanding loan value, must exceed 110% until year end 2017 and 120% from 2018 onwards.“This is the second agreement we announce targeting to align financial covenants amongst our banks and increase our financial flexibility for the coming years,” Loukas Barmparis, President of the company, said.In March, Safe Bulkers agreed with Unicredit to amend an existing loan secured by four vessels with an outstanding balance of USD 51.8 million, delaying the balloon payment initially scheduled to be made in 2019 for 2022.
The UN-supported relief, rehabilitation and development programme in Timor-Leste has managed to make progress in rebuilding several components of the country’s infrastructure, the Secretary-General says in his report to the UN General Assembly, which covers developments between July 2001 and May 2002. Meanwhile, the presence of UN peacekeepers in Timor-Leste has ensured a stable security environment necessary for the rebuilding and development activities, the Secretary-General notes. The return of refugees from West Timor also must remain a firm priority to guarantee that security on both sides of the board is enhanced. Mr. Annan says that raising the economic and social status of the country’s poor will be a major challenge, with more than 40 per cent of the Timorese living in absolute poverty, earning less that the national poverty line of 55 cents per person each day. He notes there is also a grave shortage of qualified and experienced Timorese across all areas of government activity, particularly the justice sector, the private sector and civil society. “Building human and institutional capacities will be a challenge,” he writes, stressing that the initiatives of the Timorese Government and donors in reaching Dili’s development targets need to be well coordinated and monitored to ensure their maximum impact and value. In underscoring the vital need for continuing UN support in building and strengthening the country’s public administration, the Secretary-General encourages Member States to continue to back efforts “to build on the success already achieved and to assist [Timor-Leste] along its development path to self-reliance.”
“Despite the difficult regional context and the challenges on the ground between Israel and Palestine, this is not an opportunity that either can afford to lose,” Under-Secretary-General Jeffrey Feltman said in his briefing to the Security Council. “After 20 years of talks and too many negative developments on the ground, we don’t need lengthy negotiations,” he added. “What we, and the parties, need are decisions, the right decisions, and leaders who are committed to usher in an agreed political solution.” Direct negotiations between the Israelis and the Palestinians stalled in September 2010, after Israel refused to extend its freeze on settlement activity in the occupied Palestinian territory. Following efforts by United States Secretary of State John Kerry, the two sides resumed negotiations this August. “Despite the welcome intensification of negotiations, there have been worrisome developments on the ground that we cannot ignore,” Mr. Feltman said, reiterating the UN’s unequivocal call on all to refrain from violence and incitement, reinforce calm and reverse negative trends in order to preserve the “tentative” opening in the political process. He cited a number of violent incidents that led to deaths and injuries on both sides; settlement activity, which is “an obstacle to peace and against international law”; ongoing clashes between Palestinians and settlers; growing provocations at holy sites; and Israeli demolitions.The calm in the Gaza Strip is also showing “worrying” signs of erosion, he added, referring to a recently discovered tunnel between the territory and Israel as well as Palestinian rocket fire into Israel and Israeli incursions into Gaza. Meanwhile in Lebanon, security continues to be affected by cross-border shelling and shooting from Syria. In light of the multiple impacts of the Syrian crisis on Lebanon, Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon last month convened the inaugural meeting to launch an International Support Group for Lebanon. Mr. Feltman said the UN anticipates an expansion of the Group to embrace additional countries and organizations that share the goal of helping Lebanon.“The tragedy in Syria continues to test our collective resolve and ability to end the violence there,” he said, referring to the conflict that is now in its third year and has already claimed more than 100,000 lives. “While important progress has been made on the chemical weapons file, it will by no means bring an end by itself to the appalling suffering of the Syrian people.”The UN is working to convene a peace conference in Geneva in mid-November aimed at helping the Syrian sides launch a political process and establish by consent a new transitional governing body with full executive authority.“With a political process, however difficult it may be, there is hope that a new Syria will emerge. Without it, there is little on the horizon but the further destruction of Syria and the further destabilization of the region as a result of this conflict,” said Mr. Feltman.“We are working at all levels and hope that a common vision for apolitical solution can soon emerge among Syrians, in the region and globally,” he added.The Council, he said, is meeting at a time of “heightened diplomacy” on several issues, from the Syria catastrophe to the Middle East peace process to questions regarding nuclear proliferation. “While the challenges on each front should not be underestimated, it is important to maintain and even increase the momentum behind diplomacy,” he stated. “We encourage and remain committed to supporting this Council and its members in fully exploring all opportunities at hand to resolve peacefully, though dialogue, the difficult issues that bedevil peace and security in the region.”