[FoRK] Nice piece on the DP World farce
Owen Byrne <
owen at permafrost.net
> on >
Sun Mar 12 06:27:47 PST 2006
Really need to read the blog post with the correct formatting.
If This Isn’t Racism, What is It?
The following paragraphs contrast the excellent Wall Street Journal
reporting on the recent Dubai Ports World’s aborted effort to acquire
certain U.S. ports with the also-recent acquisition of a toll road in
Chicago by the Australian investment bank, Macquarie Bank.
I have not added, changed, or modified a single word.
Dubai Ports World's offer to delay exerting corporate control over
operations at five U.S. ports did little to calm the political firestorm
in Congress as several key lawmakers dismissed the step and continued to
demand that President Bush reopen a federal review of the deal.
—Wall Street Journal, 2/25/06
Last year, the city of Chicago was in a bind. It faced a $220 million
budget deficit and its credit rating was under review for a possible
downgrade. Voters feared a jump in property taxes.
Then help came from a surprising place: Australia. Macquarie Bank,
Australia's biggest homegrown investment bank, organized a deal to take
over Chicago's historic Skyway toll road under a 99-year lease for $1.8
billion -- hundreds of millions of dollars more than some Chicago
officials thought it would fetch.
—Wall Street Journal, 12/6/05
Officials at the government-owned Dubai management company said they
plan to complete the $6.8 billion purchase next week of London-based
Peninsular $ Oriental Steam Navigation Co, but to freeze all operations
as they are at the five U.S. ports where P&O now manages terminals --
New York/New Jersey, Baltimore, New Orleans, Miami and Philadelphia.
Australia's emergence as Chicago's white knight illustrates a surprising
development in the world economy.
On a given day, Macquarie Bank has a dozen bankers roaming the U.S. in
search of deals.
But Sen. Charles Schumer (D., N.Y.), who has led the charge against the
transaction, shot back that "the cooling off period isn't going to
work." He and other Senate critics insisted that Congress needed more
than just additional briefings by the White House and DP World
officials, and should begin a full 45-day investigation of the security
implications of the deal.
In San Diego, one of its funds is building a 12-mile-long toll road. In
Virginia, a Macquarie fund invested more than $600 million to take
control of the Dulles Greenway, a 14-mile toll road outside of
Washington. Macquarie operates the tunnel that connects Detroit to
Windsor, Ontario, and just bought, with other investors, Icon Parking
Systems, one of the biggest parking-lot operators in New York City.
In another sign that the uproar hasn't subsided, Sen. Hillary Rodham
Clinton, (D., N.Y.) plans to introduce legislation barring all
foreigners from managing U.S. ports, despite the fact that the vast
majority are now run by foreign companies and that U.S. companies are
minor players in the industry. "We cannot cede sovereignty over critical
infrastructure like our ports. This is a job that America has to do,"
Ms. Clinton told a gathering in Miami.
Macquarie funds also hold stakes in the airports of Brussels, Copenhagen
and Kilimanjaro, Tanzania. Macquarie funds own stakes in a major port in
China, a Japanese turnpike and one of England's biggest toll roads. This
year, Macquarie said it was weighing a bid to buy the London Stock
Exchange, though it is unclear whether that deal will be completed.
Mr. Chertoff [Homeland Security Secretary] denied that DP World was
being held to different standards than other prospective foreign
investors, but said that because the company was the first foreign
terminal operator to be vetted by the secret Committee for Foreign
Investment in the United States, the safeguards could serve as a
template for future deals. "I would certainly anticipate that if another
country had a company taking over a port [terminal] we would do the same
thing," he said.
Chicago is certainly glad the firm came knocking. Opened amid great
fanfare in the late 1950s, the Skyway was supposed to be a critical leg
in a stretch of toll roads extending to New York City. The Skyway turned
into an epic white elephant. The toll road failed to generate enough
traffic. In the 1970s, Chicago defaulted on its Skyway debt.
[DP World] said they played by long-established rules that control the
government's review of foreign investments. "We just complied with what
was required," said Ted Bilkey, DP World's chief operating officer. Mr.
Bilkey said the company began working last October to get the
administration comfortable with the deal, and he personally met with
senior officials in early December. "We felt we've done everything
correctly, and all of a sudden there's this furor," he said.
Executives at Macquarie say U.S. drivers can expect to see more of them
in the future. Says Nicholas Moore, the head of Macquarie's
investment-banking division: "It's a firm bet that all of the roads that
are being talked about in America, we'll be looking at."
If the political outcry against unfamiliar and dark-skinned foreigners
from one side of the world owning ports in the United States, when
contrasted with the red-carpet treatment given a more familiar brand of
white-skinned foreigners from another side of the world, isn’t ignorance
at best and racism at worst—then what is it?
I Am Not Making This Up
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