Dubai World has been seeking to sell Inchcape Shipping Services (ISS). The port and shipping agent was put up for sale recently by Dubai World, with an $800m price tag. ISS is part of a sell-off of the assets it snapped up during theÂ real estate boom period, as the conglomerate seeks to restructure its $23.5bn debts. Inchcape is one of the few successful investments in Dubai Worldâ€™s Istithmar investment portfolio , which includes the QE2 ocean liner and the Canadian Cirque du Soleil. Istithmar bought ISS for $285m at the start of its buying spree between 2006 and 2008.
Few investors, large private equity groups, already have expressed interest, but the eventual deal could be postponed, because Dubai World had concerns that it would obtain fair value for the asset.
ISS, based in Chafford Hundred, east of London, describes itself as the worldâ€™s biggest independent marine management company. It services the US and British navies in the Gulf and manages oil tanker contracts with ExxonMobil and Shell. It has more than 200 offices in 63 countries, and it made $502m of revenue and $62m of operating profit last year. In 2005, it won a $50m five-year contract to provide husbanding services â€“ providing fuel, food and other essentials â€“ to the Fifth Fleet, the Bahrain-based US naval operations that span the Middle East and Indian Ocean. The companyâ€™s Bahrain operation won another contract for the US Naval Supply Systems Command as recently as February.