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DP World gets nod for London; shows interest in Panama

Dubai: DP World's project for a £1.5bn container port on the Thames moved forward significantly, the same day the group disclosed an interest in multiple investments centred around the Panama Canal.

The UK Government has issued notification that it 'remains minded' to approve the London Gateway project for a deepsea containership port. The £1.5bn plan, inherited from P&O, envisages building a London Gateway Port with a 2,300 metre long quay with a fully developed capacity of 3.5m teu on the former Shell haven oil refinery in Thurrock, together with associated 300-hectare logistics and business park. A 10- to 15-year development timeframe is envisaged.

'This is important news and we are delighted with the UK Government's continued support,' said Sultan Ahmed Bin Sulayem, chairman of DP World. 'London Gateway is unique because of its scale and location.'

'London Gateway was a compelling factor in our acquisition of P&O,' added Mohammed Sharaf, ceo of DP World, 'as we had already identified the potential of these projects in the heart of one of Europe's largest consumer economies.'

The official notification effectively means that detailed infrastructure planning, upon which final approval is conditional, can now take place. It has been suggested that the decision to hold the 2012 Olympics in east London could now complicate that process but all involved with the long-running Gateway project will be heartened by the latest indications of support from both the UK government and P&O's new owners.

 Separately, Bin Sulayem has been quoted in the Dubai press as saying that DP World is interested in investing in the planned $5bn expansion of the Panama Canal, and would explore opportunities for developing new ports, industrial zones, a shipyard facilities, real estate projects and a commodities exchange in the Central American country.

The move follows a recent tour of Latin America by the DP World chairman, which also took in visits to Argentina, Peru, Venezuela  and the Dominican Republic ?" countries where it has already announced container terminal investments totalling some $800m.  [10.08.06]

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