Friday, February 24, 2006

In the News: Port Agency to Break Lease in Bid to Block Dubai Sale

Ports and maritime operations play a significant role in the economy, environment, and security of our coasts and waterfronts in the Harbor Estuary. A recent deal made by the Federal government would provide a long-term operations contract to a company based in the United Arab Emirates, a deal that many have questioned on security and economic concerns. One of the six ports potentially affected by this deal would be Port Newark, which is owned by the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey, our region's major maritime agency. The Port Authority's stance on the deal in essence wishes to prevent operations from being transfered to Dubai Ports World comments the NY Times in the article below. JB

The Port Authority of New York and New Jersey will break the lease of a big container terminal at Port Newark to stop a company based in Dubai from taking over part of the operation there, the agency's chairman said yesterday.

Anthony R. Coscia, the chairman, said the company that holds a lease on the terminal through 2030 violated the contract by selling a half-interest in it to Dubai Ports World without seeking the landlord's approval. He said the Port Authority would ask a judge in New Jersey Superior Court in Newark today to affirm its right to end the lease.

"Fundamentally, this is a landlord-tenant dispute," said Mr. Coscia, who is a lawyer. "We're terminating their lease because they sublet illegally."

Separately, the State of New Jersey sued the federal government in United States District Court in Trenton yesterday afternoon to block the Dubai deal. The lawsuit said Bush administration officials failed to fulfill their duty to fully investigate the national security implications of the transaction.

The Dubai company has agreed to pay $6.8 billion to buy Peninsular & Oriental Steam Navigation, a port operator based in London. One of the subsidiaries it would acquire, P & O Ports North America, owns half of the company that operates the Port Newark Container Terminal.

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