- The Washington Times - Tuesday, June 13, 2006

P&O; Ports North America, the United Arab Emirates-owned company that runs port operations in six U.S. cities, this week assured U.S. lawmakers it will be sold to a U.S. buyer by this fall.

“The sale is proceeding as planned. … The necessary preparatory work is almost complete and we will begin marketing the business to potential U.S. buyers soon,” Nick Luff, former P&O; chief financial officer, said in a letter dated June 9 and delivered to Capitol Hill Monday.

Mr. Luff is overseeing the P&O; sale from company offices in London.

The Bush administration early this year approved Dubai Ports World’s $6.8 billion purchase of Peninsular and Oriental Steam Navigation Co., a private London company with operations in 18 countries, including the United States.

But the proposal sparked a heated debate — especially in Congress — over threats to port security from terrorists that might infiltrate DP World operations.

DP World, owned by the UAE government, was to operate some terminals at ports in Baltimore, Philadelphia, Miami, New Orleans, New York and Newark, N.J.

The UAE company completed the sale in March but only after promising to sell off U.S. operations in four to six months.

“A large number of parties have expressed interest in acquiring [P&O;],” Mr. Luff said.

P&O; will not discuss status of the sale, potential bidders and terms under discussion, Mr. Luff added.

P&O; Ports North America is expected to sell for roughly $700 million.

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