THE WEEK

THE WEEK

P&O Exits Bulk Shipping: P&O, the diversified British transport group, completed the sale of its remaining 50 percent stake in Associated Bulk Carriers. The sale to Eurotower for $64 million in cash completes a process that began in December 2000 when the private shipping investment group acquired 50 percent of ABC for $117 million. P&O recorded an operating profit of just under $10 million in the first six months of the year from its share in ABC, which has a fleet of five owned and seven chartered Cape-size dry-bulk ships ranging in size from 120,000 deadweight tons to 210,000 dwt. Over the past two years, P&O has sold 10 vessels to affiliates of Eurotower for $167 million. P&O is expected to intensify efforts to reduce its 50 percent stake in P&O Nedlloyd, the world's third-largest container shipping line, as it refocuses on global port terminal operations. Eurotower is part of a group of private shipping companies owned by First Omega Shipping Inc.

U.S. Waterways Groups Merge: Waterways Work!, and the Association for the Development of Inland Navigation in America's Ohio Valley have merged, forming the Waterways Council Inc. Based in Arlington, Va., the newly formed group elected Berdon Lawrence chairman. Lawrence is chairman of Kirby Corp. in Houston. The council also appointed Barry Palmer president and chief executive. Palmer served in those capacities at Waterways Work! The official adoption of the merger comes two months after a third organization - the National Waterways Conference - narrowly voted against merging with Waterways Work! and DINAMO. The new council's top priorities will be lobbying to maintain a modern infrastructure system for inland waterways and to ensure the national Inland Waterways Trust Fund is spent "efficiently," said Debra Colbert, manager of public relations for the Waterways Council.

Canadian National To Buy BC Rail: Canadian National Railway has agreed to acquire BC Rail Ltd. for C$1 billion (US$765 million) in cash from the provincial British Columbia government, along with the right to operate over BC Rail's tracks under a long-term lease. CN Rail is purchasing the railway, which the province has had up for sale for several months, but the railbed will remain publicly owned. CN assumes responsibility for rail transportation and for infrastructure maintenance, the company said. The transaction, which CN said is expected to close in the first quarter of 2004, requires approval of Canada's Competition Bureau.

Change Proposed For Carrier-Terminal Pacts: The Federal Maritime Commission has published several proposed changes to regulations that govern agreements between ocean common carriers and marine terminal operators. The proposal clarifies the type of information that must be included in filed agreements. It also would modify regulations governing transshipment agreements. The proposed rule also would modify the FMC's Information Form and Monitoring Reports regulations, and would grant additional authority to the director of the FMC's Bureau of Trade analysis. The commission said it pro-posed the revisions to reflect changes in the shipping industry since the Ocean Shipping Reform Act was passed in 1998. Comments on the proposed changes are due by Jan. 30.

U.S. Signs Global Rail-Security Pact: Federal Railroad Administrator Allan Rutter and Philippe Roumegu?re, chief executive of the International Union of Railways, signed a memorandum of understanding on rail transport security. The agreement sets the framework for future cooperation initiatives focusing on, among other things, exchanges of information, technological research and crisis management, including communications and hazardous materials haulage. The agreement caps work conducted jointly by the FRA and UIC in the wake of the Sept. 11 attacks.

Aviarc Wins New Backing: Aviarc Corp., a provider of digital and secure trade document services, said it has secured a financing agreement in which a large Alaska landowner and investor will become a majority shareholder. The company, Sealaska Corp., is the largest private landowner in Southeast Alaska and has principal investments in forest products, financial markets, telecommunications, entertainment, plastics and life sciences. The financing, the amount of which was not disclosed, will be used by Aviarc to expand its Internet-enabled trade document management services for importers, exporters, customs brokers and logistics providers. Aviarc is positioning its technology as a solution to the challenges of ocean container security.

Express Carriers Lobby China On Postal Law: The world's four major air-express carriers have joined forces to lobby China ahead of the release of a new draft postal law. DHL Worldwide Express, FedEx Corp., TNT Express Worldwide and UPS are taking on China Post, the country's state-run monopoly postal service and industry regulator. The group, calling themselves the Conference of Asia Pacific Express Carriers, or CAPEC, hope to convince China's policy-makers to adopt international standards for defining universal postal services and push for an independent industry regulator. The group also hopes to prevent China from imposing a special levy on express carriers to finance a national fund that would improve mail deliveries to remote areas by strengthening the country's postal infrastructure.