DP World sells U.S. port interests

March 19, 2007 at 12:00 PM
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DUBAI, United Arab Emirates, March 19 (UPI) -- The Dubai company at the center of a U.S. ports takeover controversy last year has sold all its U.S. business.

Gulf News on Saturday quoted a Dubai Ports World spokesman as saying all operations of its wholly owned subsidiary, P&O Ports North America, have been sold to AIG Global Investment Group.

AIG, based in the United States, plans to name its new ports operations "Ports America."

The sale fulfills the commitment made by DP World last year to sell its U.S. assets to an American buyer," the spokesman said.

DP World acquired control of key terminals in a number of major U.S. ports - including New York - when it bought the P&O, a British company.

The prospect of a Middle Eastern company running U.S. port terminals sparked an immediate controversy amid concern over national security.

Britain had already approved the P&O sale, and a U.S. government panel had not objected to the DP World takeover, but public and congressional furor led to DP World's promise to divest any U.S. ports interests

"We cannot say we are happy to be leaving the U.S. but it is good that we are over this controversy," DP World Chief Executive Officer Mohammad Sharaf told the newspaper.

Dollar amounts involved in the transfer of ownership were not disclosed. But Gulf News said industry sources had previously said the U.S. port terminal operations involved were worth about $700 million.

The vulnerability of U.S. ports to terrorism remains a major concern given the amount of cargo entering the United States and the inability to screen all incoming cargoes and containers.

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