Dubai port firm DP World profit rises 18 percent

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By ADAM SCHRECK, Associated Press

DUBAI, United Arab Emirates (AP) — DP World, the Dubai-based port operator, said Thursday its profit rose 18 percent last year as cargo volumes increased through its network.

The cargo handler said it earned $532 million in 2011, up from $450 million the previous year.

Adjusted earnings, which included gains from the partial sale of the company's Australian business, were up 67 percent to $751 million.

DP World agreed to sell 75 percent of its Australian operations to an investment fund led by Citigroup Inc. for $1.5 billion in late 2010. The deal closed last March.

Sales for 2011 dipped 3 percent, to $2.98 billion, the company said. It attributed the decline to a change in how it accounted for the Australian ports.

DP World is the world's third biggest seaport operator, with a heavy emphasis on fast-growing markets in the developing world.

CEO Mohammed Sharaf said that although the health global economy looks uncertain this year, DP World remains "confident about the long term outlook for our industry."

The company has operations at more than 60 sea cargo terminals on six continents, so its earnings offer a window on global trade flows. It runs Dubai's immense Jebel Ali port, the Middle East's busiest, and is building Britain's first new deep-sea container port in more than a quarter century outside London.

The cargo handler is part of Dubai's troubled Dubai World conglomerate, but was excluded from its parent's $25 billion debt restructuring.

Earlier this week, DP World announced it will use spare cash it has on hand to repay $3 billion in debt next month, six months before it is due. It says it will still have $1.2 billion in cash and $4.7 billion in debt on its books afterward.

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