Dubai Company Sells U.S. Port Operations

United States map, with locators for NEW YORK, PHILADELPHIA, NEWARK, BALTIMORE, MIAMI, NEW ORLEANS, ports that would have terminals leased by Dubai Ports World, under a deal now being criticized by members of Congress trying to stop the recently-approved arrangement, 2-21-06
Dubai Ports World, the company whose planned takeover of major U.S. port operations ignited a political firestorm earlier this year, has agreed to sell those operations to AIG Global Investment Group.

The company announced the deal Monday. The operations at six major U.S. seaports in New York/New Jersey, Philadelphia, Baltimore, Miami, Tampa and New Orleans were valued at approximately $700 million, but DP World did not disclose the sales price.

Rep. Ed Markey, D-Mass., a senior member of the House Homeland Security Committee, called the announcement "welcome news."

"It also should serve as a reminder of the urgent need for vigilant congressional oversight of Bush Administration policies so that we do not lose control of critical infrastructure without debate or consensus," Markey said.

Sen. Chuck Schumer, D-N.Y., who had been a chief critic of Dubai Ports World taking over U.S. ports, echoed Markey's sentiments.

"This transaction is happening in the broad light of day, where it should have been all along," Schumer said.

The deal also involves stevedoring operations in 16 locations along the eastern seaboard and Gulf Coast and a passenger terminal in New York City.

"While we are disappointed to be exiting the U.S. market, the price we received was fair," Sultan Ahmed Bin Sulayem, the chairman of DP World, said in a statement announcing the deal.

AIG Global Investment Group is an asset management firm with more than $635 billion in assets.

DP World is based in the United Arab Emirates and is the largest marine terminal operator with 51 terminals in 24 countries.

The Bush administration had agreed last January to allow DP World to acquire the U.S. port operations. But as soon as the deal became public, the move was fiercely attacked by members of both political parties.

Critics of DP World cited the UAE's history as an operational and financial base for the hijackers who attacked New York and Washington on Sept. 11, 2001, and the government's past support of the Taliban government before those attacks.

As a result of the public pressure, DP World ultimately agreed to sell off the U.S. assets.