Looks like <i>this</i> Dubai deal won’t tank

Scott Tong Apr 28, 2006

Looks like <i>this</i> Dubai deal won’t tank

Scott Tong Apr 28, 2006


KAI RYSSDAL: Here’s a news flash. Washington does, indeed, understand nuance. You remember Dubai Ports, right? Where congressional opposition torpedoed a deal to sell off operations at six, big U.S. ports. Well, we learned today the White House has approved another Dubai purchase, of another American company doing some sensitive stuff. But the administration says this time is different. And it looks like, so far, Congress is buying it. Marketplace’s Scott Tong reports.

SCOTT TONG: Today’s story is brought to you by the acronym CFIUS. That’s the government panel that scours foreign deals for national security threats. Here’s the President today.

PRESIDENT BUSH: I’m convinced at the recommendation of the CFIUS Committee as well as our military that it’s a sale that should go through.

That means Dubai International Capital can buy Doncasters Group — it makes parts for American fighters and tanks. The deal is worth $1.2 billion.

Todd Malan speaks CFIUS, too. He represents US subsidiaries of foreign firms, and says the review panel looked longer and harder at this Dubai deal.

TODD MALAN: This time around the CFIUS process could be described as kind of the Full Monty. This was a very thorough review, the most senior people in the administration, reviewing the intelligence.

This time, the administration extracted promises from the company — to ensure the supply of weapons parts. And it made sure to clear the deal with Congress beforehand.

MALAN: Unfortunately for Dubai Ports, they tried to kind of take a keep-your-head-down strategy. And it didn’t work.

Much of the business lobby credits the White House for doing this. CEOs, banks and manufacturers all want Congress to stay out of the process. And, for now, the storm has passed.

Still, Bill Reinsch of the National Foreign Trade Council says it only takes one case for politicians to wave what he considers the xenophobia flag.

BILL REINSCH: Whether it’s, you know, an Arab acquisition or more likely a Chinese acquisition, I think the issue will come up in a big way, over and over again.

Especially in an election year, When lawmakers are particularly tempted to pick politics over nuance.

In Washington, I’m Scott Tong for Marketplace.

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