UAE to sell US port interests

The statement from Dubai Ports World was welcomed by Democratic Senator Chuck Schumer, who had angrily raised questions about the company’s commitment to offloading the ports.

“An expedited sale process is under way and with the cooperation of the port authorities and joint venture partners, it is expected that a sale can be agreed within four to six months,” DPW said.

The company said it plans to sell the port operations to an “unrelated US buyer”. Until then, it said, they will continue under the independent management of British company P and O Ports North America.

“That is very good news. That is what we were seeking from the beginning,” Senator Schumer told reporters.

DPW was forced to bow last week to a ferocious clamour in Congress and announce it would cede control of the six US ports, which it had acquired as part of a takeover of the P and O Group.

But on Tuesday Senator Schumer demanded that the US administration provide proof that the UAE firm was proceeding with the sale after leaked internal emails raised questions about its commitment to divesting the port at Miami.

He said on Wednesday that if the sale occurs “and it occurs quickly, it will obviate the need for the legislation that I have authored”.

An amendment proposed by the senator would forbid control of a US port falling into the control of any government that recognised Afghanistan’s Taliban regime, as was the case with the UAE.

Members of Congress had also accused the Gulf state of being a haven for terrorism and money-laundering in arguing that DPW should be prevented from running the ports.

No buyer has yet been identified for the port operations at Baltimore, New York, Miami, New Jersey, New Orleans and Philadelphia but private equity funds or investment banks have shown some interest.

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