Dubai Ports World, the combined United Emirates (UAE) port management company for the Gulf, has stepped up its challenge to win the operating rights of six major ports in the US, by claiming it has strong business ties with Israeli shipping company Zim Integrated Shipping Services Ltd..
Dubai Ports World has acquired the veteran British company Peninsular and Oriental Steam Navigation (P&O), which owned the operating rights to six US ports in New York, New Jersey, Philadelphia, Baltimore, Miami and New Orleans. The projected transfer of ownership to the Gulf port operator met with strong opposition from legislators in both parties and both houses of Congress on Capitol Hill. However, US President George W. Bush said he would veto any bill that aimed to block the transfer of the management of the ports to the Arab company.
Dubai Ports World has launched an intensive lobbying campaign to soften opposition on Capitol Hill, recruiting top-flight American lobbyists and politicians, including former Senator and Republican presidential candidate Robert Dole. The company also dispatched deputy CEO Ted Bilkey, an American citizen, who gave interviews in the media and met with legislators in an attempt to push the deal through.
Asked in an interview last week with “CNN” reporter Wolf Blitzer whether Dubai Ports World was doing business with Israel while the UAE refused to recognize Israel, Bilkey replied, “One of our very sound customers is Zim line. It's the largest shipping company. And the president of that company is very close to our company and supports us, because we have good relations with all of our clients.
” We handle their operations in a number of ports throughout the world because it's good commercial business for us. They wouldn't come to us unless we did a good job,” added Bilkey.
Blitzer: “Does the emir know this?”
Published by Globes [online], Israel business news - www.globes.co.il - on February 26, 2006