America

Sunday, February 18, 2007

Ports to come under U.S. control

As set out here, the end(?) of the Dubai Ports World flap:
Six major U.S. port operations will come under U.S. ownership after Dubai Ports World cleared a $50 million hurdle Friday to end a yearlong political conflict over security at the nation's cargo terminals.

DP World, based in United Arab Emirates, agreed in December to sell its U.S. ports operations to AIG Global Investment Group, following months of criticism that the UAE firm could not be trusted to run the security-sensitive shipping apparatus.

That deal suddenly foundered this week when the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey, which must consent to the sale, asked the two companies for tens of millions of dollars in cash and future infrastructure work at the Port Newark Container Terminal.

The business brinksmanship led two U.S. senators on Thursday to dub the Port Authority's demands greedy and to threaten political payback if the agency didn't back down.
***
The latest standoff began when Port Authority officials asked for roughly $30 million in past improvements to the Port Newark Container Terminal -- and a commitment from AIG for future infrastructure work. The companies said the agency originally demanded $84 million, and that the Port Authority was the last obstacle to completing the sale.

At that, Sens. Charles Schumer, D-N.Y., and Robert Menendez, D-N.J., found themselves in an odd position: coming to DP World's defense after more than a year of publicly ripping the company.

Both senators on Thursday threatened the Port Authority with less federal aid if the agency didn't back down.

Schumer called Friday's deal fair and said he was glad the Port Authority ``has come to its senses.''
More than a little irony in all this.

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