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DENVER-A high-level official in the locally based Broe Cos. tells GlobeSt.com that the company is considering making an offer to operate the portion of the six US ports that Dubai Ports World has agreed to sell. This follows the overwhelming political and public outcry regarding a Middle Eastern company being in control of US ports.

The Broe source says the company is uniquely qualified because it is one of the few US companies that actually owns a port. The Broe Cos. has more than $1 billion in assets in commercial real estate, short-line railroads, industrial land, energy, pain management and assisted living communities.

Its principal, Pat Broe, is extremely private and seldom speaks with the press. When, for example, the New York Times wrote a front-page story about one of Broe’s holdings–the Port in Churchill, Manitoba–Broe declined to comment.

The Port in Churchill, Manitoba, on the Hudson Bay, owned by the Broe subsidiary OmniTRAX, does a lot of trade between Canada, Northern Europe, Russia, and parts of the Middle East. Typically, companies simply operate ports, with a government entity actually owning it. In this case, Broe bought the port for about 10 Canadian dollars, or about $8, and pumped in tens of millions of dollars into the port and the railroad that serves it, which it also owns.

OmniTRAX is one of the largest private owner of short-line railroads in the US and Canada. Often, the railroads will serve buildings in industrial parks that need large shipments of raw materials to warehouse and distribute. Earlier, Dwight Johnson, president of OmniTRAX, said the company’s goal is to grow the port business until it could rival the size of its real estate and railroad holdings. The company could buy ports outright, he said, and buy or lease the land nearby depending on the situation.

DPW has offered $6.8 billion to buy the assets of London-based Peninsular and Oriental Steam Navigation Co. for its ports throughout the world, including a portion of the ports in Baltimore, New York/Newark, New Orleans, Miami and Philadelphia. Until about a month ago, P&O also owned the Denver Tech Center, the Meridian International Business Park and office buildings in Downtown and Cherry Creek. But Shea Properties, the owner of Highlands Ranch, recently paid $150 million for P&O’s Denver-area real estate.

Locally based Rick Pederson, principal of locally based Foundations Properties, believes the Broe Cos. would appear to be qualified to run the operations. Foundations Properties, which invests in real estate on behalf of foundations, educational institutions and others, has consulted with large companies such as Citigroup, Union Pacific Railroad and Chevron, in the past. Pederson says that given Broe’s track record and holdings, it is entirely possible that he could gain the access to the capital needed to take control of the ports.

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