Dubai port operator sails off with P&O

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The Independent Online

The future of P&O, the port operator that was once a bedrock of the British empire, seemed settled yesterday after a turbulent three-month bid process.

PSA International, Singapore's largest port company, said it would not be raising its takeover offer to compete with a £3.88bn bid from DP World, Dubai's port business.

P&O is putting DP World's 520p a share offer to investors at a meeting on Monday, with every expectation that it will be approved.

Singapore said that raising its own 470p a share offer "would not be compatible with commercial business sense".

P&O was founded in 1837, the year Queen Victoria took the throne, and was a key part of Britain's expansion overseas, carrying cargo to Sydney, Calcutta, Singapore and Hong Kong.

The P&O chairman, John Parker, said: "The combination of P&O and DP World has compelling strategic logic."

The news that PSA would withdraw from the race sent P&O shares down 20.75p to 516.75p by the market close.

Dubai, boosted by high oil prices, always seemed likely to be able to offer a higher bid than its rival.

"We are confident, we have always been confident," said the DP World chairman, Sultan Ahmed Bin Sulayem.

P&O has 29 ports around the world and also runs a ferry service between the UK and France.

Five meetings will take place on Monday for different classes of shareholders, with a 75pc majority needed in each class for the deal to go ahead. Some small investors are upset at P&O passing into foreign hands.

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