U.S. Company Asks London Court To Block Takeover Of P And O

The Eller Company, based in Miami, Florida asked a London High Court judge on Feb. 27 to block the controversial takeover of Britain's Peninsula and Orient Steam Navigation Company (P and O) by Dubai Ports World, court sources said.

The Eller Company has a joint venture agreement with a P and O subsidiary and argued that the takeover by Dubai Ports World (DPW), controlled by the ruling Maktoum family in the United Arab Emirates, would harm its interests. Eller, which provides stevedoring services to 90% of cruise ships in the port of Miami, also argued that the deal would violate its joint venture agreement with P and O. Eller had filed a similar lawsuit against the takeover in the U.S. In its London petition, it said there was a "real prospect" that U.S. authorities, who had initially backed the transaction, would revoke their approval.

Paul Downes, an attorney representing Eller, said the company feared the takeover would result in the loss of $150 million (126 million euros) and could affect the job-status of 1,500 workers at the port. But Martin Moore, representing P and 0, contended that the company's U.S. operations, over which concerns have been expressed, accounted for only 6% of its worldwide operating profits.

DPW said late last week it would postpone its takeover bid and subsequently agreed to a 45-day review of the deal in the U.S.

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