KAI RYSSDAL: Let’s see if you can follow the bouncing ball with me on this one. Last year, a company called Dubai Ports World tried to buy an English firm that controlled operations at six big seaports in the U.S.
American politicians raised all kinds of cain about an Arab-owned company running things at six big seaports in the U.S. So Dubai Ports World agreed to sell off its operations at those six big seaports in the U.S. to the global insurance giant AIG.
Today, it appears Dubai Ports is having a hard time following through. From New York, Marketplace’s Amy Scott ties up the loose ends.
AMY SCOTT: DP World can’t officially sell its New York and New Jersey operations to AIG Global Investment Group until the Port Authority gives its consent. But the companies say the Port Authority won’t approve the deal until they pay a fee of up to $84 million.
In a letter to the Port Authority today, executives said they were unaware of such a fee at any other port in the world, and called it “far in excess of any reasonable administrative fee.”
Michael Moore is a senior vice president at DP World. He says the hold-up is especially frustrating because the company didn’t want to sell its U.S. terminals in the first place.
MICHAEL MOORE: We weren’t leaving the U.S. of our own volition. We were leaving the United States because we were asked to. The irony is, now we’re having a hard time leaving.
The Port Authority says it’s ready to go back to the bargaining table any time. Spokesman Stephen Sigmund says the authority invested $30 million in the terminal that AIG would be taking over. It wants its share of the profits from that investment.
STEPHEN SIGMUND: We are looking to make sure one, that those investments don’t just walk away through the profits that this company is making by selling the asset for a lot of money. And two, asking the AIG to make long-term capital investments so that we know that they’ll be a long-term partner.
The companies have an unlikely ally. U.S. Senator Charles Schumer of New York was among DP World’s fiercest critics when it appeared an Arab company would be running a major U.S. port terminal. Today, the senator called the Port Authority’s price greedy, and asked officials to approve the sale.
In New York, I’m Amy Scott for Marketplace.
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