Saturday, February 25, 2006

UAE ports deal - giving time to the opposition

Dubai Ports — Strategic Implications
By David Jonsson, Guest Columnist, Canadian Free Press

So far I've seen little from the opposition of the ports deal that warrants passing on, since it's laden with anti-Arab hysteria and fears of national security that do not exist.

In fairness, I ran across this guest column that, while reeking of the Islamic global "take over the world" charge, does raise points not offered heretofore. Odd thing is that Canada, also affected by the P&O/DP World deal, is not raising a stink in their own country. Yet Mr. Jonsson makes no mention of his own country's lack of concern.

Since the article is lengthy, I will only post some pertinent excerpts that relate to my own reactions, but it is worthy of a read in it's entirety.

DAE Airports is a subsidiary of Dubai Aerospace Enterprise (DAE), a recently launched holding firm that aims to invest $15 bln in manufacturing and services in the aviation sector. Its partners are real estate-based Emaar, air services supplier DNATA, aviation industry technology firm Mercator, Emirates National Oil Co, Amlak Finance and Dubai Airports Free Zone Authority (DAFZA).

In the case of DP World’s acquisition, the prices paid for acquisition cannot be justified based of strictly economic factors. The implications of Islamists creating global port control have strategic, security and religious implications.

This refers to a post I did on Feb 22nd, "If they don't like the ports deal, wait until they hear this". So far, no surprises.

With the acquisition of P&O, the company will have terminals in the most important areas of the world, stretching from Australia to Canada and Argentina to Eastern Russia and the heartland of America.

The $9.3 billion financing package put together by for the DP World’s takeover of P&O includes an innovative Islamic bond issue that is tied to a potential initial public offering (IPO) of the new group. The financing, which includes a $6.5 billion loan, is the largest takeover-related transaction in the Middle East to date. Barclay’s Bank and Deutsche Bank have underwritten the $6.5 billion loan. DP World plans to issue a $2.8 billion Sukuk bond that is partially convertible into shares in DP World, in the event of an IPO within the next three years. The bond will not pay regular interest, in order to comply with Shariah law. Instead, investors will be paid when the bond matures, after two years.

Again, the financing of the deal via Sharia compliant bonds was an issue that I was questioning, but didn't see what the bru-haha was about here. It is also a tact taken by Michelle Malkin.

The relationship of the financing by Sharia bonds and this business takeover of the world by Islam, as suggested by Mr. Jonsson?

Sukuk investors have an inherent right to information on the use of their investments, the nature of the underlying assets, and other particulars that would otherwise be considered redundant in conventional investments. The Sukuk bonds for the P&O acquisition are not guaranteed by the Dubai government even though Dubai's Ports Customs and Free Zone Corporation (PCFC) is fully state-owned. The Sukuk offers an attractive yield because repayments are not dependent on cash flows of the borrowing company but from a future IPO of a strategic government asset. Under the offer, the bonds will be repaid within two years, with 70 per cent returned in cash and 30 per cent as equity shares from the planned public offering. If no IPO takes place prior to the final redemption of the Sukuks, investors would be compensated with a higher yield. According to Sohail Zubairi - Vice-President and Head of Shariah Structuring, Documentation and Product Development, Dubai Islamic Bank, the PCFC Sukuk is based on Musharaka or partnership. It is Sharikat Al-Aqd or contractual partnership where an agreement is entered between the two or more parties to combine their equity (be it in cash or kind) for the purpose of investing the same in a Shariah compliant manner for making profits, which are then distributed according to a pre-agreed ratio.

The potential net result is that, as of now, the unknown "partners" have, because of their investment inherent right to information and use of the funds. These "partners" will also be in a preferred position for the launch of a future IPO. Such an arrangement has far reaching implications for all ports controlled by DP World.

There's no denying that "unknown" bond investors have the right to information and the use of the funds garnished by the profits. I'm not sure what information they would be privvy to that would affect any of the affected countries national security, but when addressing use of the profits - perhaps for use in funding terrorism - the same could be said for any profits obtained via legal investments.

Some of the red flags raised by Jonsson include the high investments of Iranians in Dubai assets.

Some 4,000 Iranian businesspersons have invested in Dubai due chiefly to poor facilities and restrictive investment regulations at home. UAE has provided foreign investors with convenient port services, banking and insurance facilities, low-cost labor, straightforward trading laws and inexpensive transportation. Lack of competition in Iranian banking system has largely benefited the tiny Persian Gulf state, which re-exports several billion dollars worth of goods to Iran per annum.

Iran... just the mere mention of them should fuel the already out of control hysteria. But what should be remembered about Iran is not everyone in that country is in league with the radical cleric ruling hierarchy. There is way too much rush to lump nationality together as one, condemning all simultaneously. We have many Iranian businessmen and women here in the US as well. And perhaps the radical element in Iran is the very reason there are so many are Iranian expatriates making their ways elsewhere.

Mr. Jonsson then launches into the already known fact that Dubai was a money hub for terrorists prior to 911. This I will discard in light of their post-911 clamp on money laundering and banking regulations.

Mr. Jonsson's referral to the shipment of centrifuges... again, a pre-911 action, was redeemed with their aid in not only shutting down such shipments, but the intradition and dismantling of the terror network on their territory, plus actions that led to Libya's surrender of their WMDs. These facts cam out during the CFIUS briefing to the SASC.

So what we are left with is Mr. Jonsson's vision that the P&O acquisition is another step in Islam's quest to take over the world thru business holdings - holdings that encompass in his worlds, "energy infrastructure, the transportation systems, currency, media, elections, immigration and education."

I can't say there may not be something to this grand scheme, but it seems to me that it would require a lot of business men and women involved in a multitude of companies to be jihadists with a goal to take a thriving and profitable world global economy (that includes them) and send it back to a 3rd world status under Islamic fundamentalism.

And this would benefit them how?

Seems unlikely at best to get that many fundamentalists who hate prosperity in power at so many companies. But hey... it's the best argument to date I've heard about "why not". Personally the take-over-the-world-via-controlling-then-destroying-the-economy" conspiracy hasn't changed my opinion for obvious reasons. But I'll leave you to form your own.

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