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2012-01-12 - 09:11:00 - DJ Global Traders Concerned Over Kenyan Port Ownership - Analyst

DJ Global Traders Concerned Over Kenyan Port Ownership - Analyst

NAIROBI (Dow Jones)--Global commodity traders are concerned about port ownership in Kenya as political discussions over the possible privatization of Mombasa continue, an analyst with Infospectrum told Dow Jones Newswires Wednesday.

"Generally, our clients come to us because they want to know exactly who the counterparty is they're dealing with, and as such, transparency is of key importance," said Michael Ryan, the analyst with Infospectrum, a provider of counterparty risk assessment reports and company ratings focusing on shipping, energy and commodities trading companies, with clients including ship owners and operators, oil majors, banks and commodity trading houses.

"Given the global economic climate, and the torrid time being experienced by the maritime industry, our clients want to know the exact setup and reputation of the counterparty before they enter into a commercial contract," said Ryan. "Too many companies have been at the wrong end of a contract when their counterparty has defaulted."

The state-owned port of Mombasa has been earmarked for privatization, but the process has been bogged down for months by political debate from business and political representatives from the port region who want a share of any revenue when and if the port is privatized.

The state-owned port was earmarked for privatization in 2005 to improve its efficiency.

"With exports and imports from Mombasa increasing in volume, it seems increasingly the case that a 'public/private partnerships' will be of vital importance in developing the necessary infrastructure for the port," Ryan said.

Mombasa handles tea, coffee, gold and tin from the region, and imports commodities such as oil, industrial chemicals, grains, sugar, fertilizers, steel and coal.

The Kenyan Port Authority handled 7.7 million metric tons of cargo at the port of Mombasa in the first five months of 2011, slightly down from 7.8 million tons in the same period the previous year, the Central Bank of Kenya said in October.

The port serves Uganda, Rwanda, Burundi, northern Tanzania, South Sudan, Ethiopia and Somalia.

-By George Mwangi, contributing to Dow Jones Newswires; +254 735 781 853;

(END) Dow Jones Newswires

January 12, 2012 04:11 ET (09:11 GMT)

Copyright (c) 2012 Dow Jones & Company, Inc.

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