Sunday, February 19, 2006

UAE port operations - old news with a new twist

Dubai Ports to buy P&O for $5.7 bln
By Michael Smith and Dayan Candappa, (Reuters)
appearing in Boston Globe, Nov 29, 2005

Interesting how the "headline of the week" story is just really recycled news. But don't think this Reuters news blurp appeared only to the chosen few in Kennedy and Kerry's back yard. It also ran via ABC and sundry other syndicated news outlets as well. The sale has not been a media "secret" for quite a while now.

Despite the media's own reporting months ago, and assuming Congressional types still have reading ability, both are just now waking up to smell the coffee and frantically hitting editors and producers with sensational headlines and talking points. And still without doing their homework.

A tad late to be of genuine concern, don't you think? Where was the perceived indignation and fears of news that would seriously threaten our national security from these lawmakers back then? Either they or their watchdogs... er assistants... couldn't put three and three together, connecting P&O, port operations and the US.

Or more likely, it was a fact that the merger plainly didn't warrant the fu-fer-rah happening now. (See some basic homework here. )

Afterall, DP World has been a big player in Europe and South African regions (including Australia) prior to this deal. If the UK and those countries accustomed to doing business with the UAE company weren't upset at the prospect of the merger for their national security reasons, then why should we be concerned ?

Hummm... Low Congressional poll scores. Mid term elections. Are they trying to convince us they know what they are doing, and give a hoot?

Below the flash back news. Good news - the Arab owned company that Congress wants to thwart plans to keep the port staff pretty much status quo.

LONDON/DUBAI (Reuters) - State-backed Dubai Ports World agreed to buy UK ports and ferries group P&O for 3.3 billion pounds on Tuesday, creating the world's third-largest ports company.

Dubai Ports offered 443 pence per share in an all-cash bid for P&O, a 165-year-old maritime icon formed at the height of Britain's sea power, as part of an ambitious expansion strategy for Asia and Europe.


Dubai Ports, created by the merger of two state-owned entities in September, said it planned to retain P&O's management, staff and its UK-France ferries business. It said the deal was about expansion rather than cost-cutting.

"This clearly fits into the broader strategic picture given Dubai's ambitions to position itself as a hub, not just of shipping but of business," said Zahed Chowdhury, Head of Research, HSBC, Dubai.

Analysts and Dubai Ports executives said they did not anticipate any regulatory opposition. The deal is expected to be wrapped up by the first quarter of next year.


Dubai Ports Chairman Sultan Ahmed Bin Sulayem, one of Dubai's most powerful businessmen, told reporters on a conference call the deal included ownership of P&O's less-profitable UK-France ferries business.

P&O would remain headquartered in London, and Chief Executive Robert Wood would stay on as chief, he said.

P&O also expects UK government approval for a 1.5-billion-pound container port and business center near London by early next year


Dubai Ports' previous major acquisition was in December 2004 when it paid $1.15 billion for the global port assets of U.S.-based CSX Corp. (CSX.N).

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