Yet another twist to P&O deal

Contributed by editor on Mar 10, 2006 - 05:31 PM


For more than three weeks, the pending sale of British-owned Peninsular & Oriental Steam Navigation Co., who operate cross channel ferries from Dover, to Dubai Ports World has generated controversy, splitting many US congressional Republicans from President Bush, who had said repeatedly that he supported the deal.

But now in the latest twist , the United Arab Emirates company said yesterday that it would give up its management stake in U.S. seaports, including Baltimore's, rather than continue to fight what increasingly appeared to be a lost battle.

Republican leaders told Bush at a White House meeting yesterday morning that the backlash was too extreme to overcome. Within hours, Virginia Sen. John W. Warner was o­n the Senate floor, announcing that DP World had decided to shed the U.S. holdings.

The company's move, however, left open a number of questions, such as who might buy the U.S. interests and what, if any, relationship would exist between DP World and an American company that takes over the holdings.

P&O runs major port operations in Baltimore, New York, New Jersey, Philadelphia, Miami and New Orleans, and has smaller stakes in seaports from Portland, Maine, to Corpus Christi, Texas. The American assets make up about 10 percent of the £3.5billion sale, which includes operations all over the world.

Yesterday's move was DP World's third attempt to put an end to a situation that caught nearly everyone by surprise.