DP World not ruling out future foray into U.S. market
Despite being the subject of a firestorm of political activity in spring 2006, port operating giant Dubai Ports World is still hoping to one day gain access to the U.S. market, vice chairman Jamal Majid Bin Thaniah said Thursday in an interview with American Shipper.
Speaking in the company’s headquarters near the Jebel Ali Port in Dubai, Thaniah said DP World “did not close the door and did not stop pursuing the U.S. market” when a stampede of politicians forced DP World to divest itself of U.S. holdings acquired when it bought out P&O Ports in 2006.
“As part of our global expansion, we looked at the U.S. as a market we should be in,” he said. “We appreciated the international security sensitivities, and we appreciated the sensitivities toward foreign port operators, but it was a politically driven case, rather than a business case.
“When we took P&O over, we knew the U.S. market would be a sensitive one. We thought there would be some opposition, but we did not think it would get to the point where they would ask a prominent port operator to leave the U.S.
“If there is a change in the future, yes we would love to be in that big market operating.”
In a far-ranging interview, Bin Thaniah said Jebel Ali and Dubai have grown in concert with one another, to the point that the UAE port could handle more than 10 million TEUs this year.
He also said the port’s ability to handle such volume, as well as vast quantities of breakbulk goods to feed Dubai’s insatiable construction sector, has prepared DP World well to export its port operations expertise to other markets — particularly niche ports in developing nations.
He also said it’s no surprise that the three biggest terminal operators in the world all have used the same model — a strong home base — while operators without that base have fallen by the wayside.
“It gives us a platform of strength to develop international operations,” he said. “You look at DP World or (Singapore’s) PSA or (Hong Kong’s Hutchison), they all have a common platform.”