The Malta Independent 23 May 2019, Thursday

Maltese man killed in Somalia: Employer says what happened was ‘terrorism’

Friday, 15 March 2019, 12:00 Last update: about 3 months ago

The CEO and chairman of the company which employed a Maltese man who was killed in Somalia last month today described the attack as “terrorism” and expressed concern about the safety of the company’s employees.

DP World group chairman and CEO Sultan Ahmed bin Sulayem said the firm remains "very concerned about the safety of our people" and works to ensure their security, according to a report on the Associated Press.

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"Unfortunately, what happened in Puntland is terrorism," he said. "There's something that we are very concerned about and we are taking measures to make sure that nothing happens to our people."

Paul Formosa was shot and killed by Somalia’s al-Qaida-linked al-Shabab extremist group on Monday 4 February while working for a Dubai government-owned port operator in the country’s semi-autonomous Puntland region.

Al-Shabab, or "the youth" in Arabic, is a Sunni Islamic extremist group in Somalia born out of that country's years of anarchy following its 1991 civil war. The al-Qaida-linked group has launched attacks across Somalia and into Uganda and Kenya.

DP World has expanded aggressively into East Africa, where the Emirati government has begun building military bases. That's had its problems, such as in February 2018, when Djibouti seized control of its terminal there. A year later, Al-Shabab militants shot and killed Formosa, saying the UAE firm "occupies" the area.

Global port operator DP World said Thursday its profit rose 10 percent to $1.29 billion last year despite worldwide trade tensions, buoying a firm that may try again to enter the U.S. market after a failed attempt a decade ago became a political maelstrom.

DP World group chairman and CEO Sultan Ahmed bin Sulayem told The Associated Press that the U.S. under President Donald Trump was "open for investment." He declined, however, to offer any specifics of what ventures his government-backed firm would pursue.

"I think DP World is different than DP World what was, because we were just starting and nobody knew us and now they know us," he said. "What stops us from going to America is really finding good opportunity. If we find a good opportunity, we will go."

DP World reported revenue for last year of $5.6 billion, up from $4.7 billion the year prior. That's an increase of 19.8 percent for the port operator.

It attributed its revenue growth to acquisitions like the Dubai-based businesses Drydocks World and the Dubai Maritime City zone near the Dubai Creek. It said it plans capital expenditures of up to $1.4 billion in 2019, with investments planned in the Emirates, Ecuador, Egypt, Senegal and Somaliland.

DP World, the world's fourth-largest port operator, runs operations across the world from as far east as Brisbane, Australia to as far west as Prince Rupert, Canada.

Sulayem dismissed any concerns that Trump's protectionist policies could hurt DP World, which is backed by Dubai's government. However, their effort to enter the U.S. and run major ports there in 2006 drew criticism over security concerns about a foreign government having control of American ports.

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