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Last Updated: Sunday, 26 February 2006, 20:10 GMT
High Court bid to block P&O deal
Tankers about to dock at the port of Philadelphia
Dubai Ports will be taking control of six US ports
A US company will try to block the controversial 3.9bn ($6.8bn) takeover of shipping giant P&O by a Dubai firm in the High Court in London on Monday.

Miami-based Eller & Co has lodged a petition arguing the purchase by Dubai Ports World may harm its interests.

Dubai Ports World (DPW) has meanwhile agreed to a 45-day review of the security implications of the deal in an effort to assuage US concerns.

The company said it was surprised by the outcry over the bid.

Security concerns

Many US lawmakers believe the deal could threaten US national security.

We consider our company to be a friend of the United States
Michael Moore, Dubai Ports World

Republican and Democrat politicians have criticised the transaction, which would hand control of 21 US ports to the United Arab Emirates firm, claiming it would make the country more vulnerable to terrorism.

Despite granting additional time for the security aspects of the deal to be scrutinised, DPW said it was determined to proceed with the acqusition.

"We consider our company to be a friend of the United States," Michael Moore, a company executive, told BBC Five Live.

"We are simply trying to be helpful," he said of the 45-day review.

"It is clear that the nature of who we are, our operations and responsibilities is clearly being misunderstood."

Concessions

The company had already agreed not to take over the management of the US ports until security issues had been fully addressed.

However, this has not deterred critics of the deal.

New Jersey officials are taking legal action to try and block the deal, while the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey is seeking to annul P&O's 30-year operating licence, claiming it failed to seek permission for the transfer of ownership.

US PORTS OWNED BY P&O
Freight being unloaded at the Port of Philadelphia
New York, New Jersey, Baltimore, New Orleans, Miami, Philadelphia

The deal had been expected to be formally sanctioned in a hearing in the High Court on Monday.

However, a judge is now expected to hear Eller & Co's petition to have the deal blocked, made late on Friday evening.

Eller, which provides stevedoring services at the port of Miami, is expected to argue that the deal could be revoked in the US and that it breaches contractual agreements it has with P&O.

'Licence threat'

"There is a real prospect that the arrangement will lead to US port authorities revoking licences and leases held by joint venture companies which will cause severe financial losses," its petition states.

Dubai Ports World said it was "fully committed" to the deal, which would make it the world's third largest port operator.

The Bush administration is backing the takeover, arguing that it poses no threat to US security interests.

However, it has supported plans to allow more time for Congress to be briefed on the details of the transaction.


SEE ALSO:
Arab firm to delay US ports deal
24 Feb 06 |  Americas
Bush threatens veto in ports row
22 Feb 06 |  Americas
US lawmakers criticise ports deal
21 Feb 06 |  Americas
P&O confident of Dubai takeover
20 Feb 06 |  Business
P&O shareholders back Dubai bid
13 Feb 06 |  Business


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