Monday, May 7, 2007

Sher Value: Texas to Dubai

Halliburton, arguably the worlds largest energy services company has
caused a storm in a teacup in the US by announcing that its Chairman
and CEO, David Laser, is moving to Dubai, where part of the corporate
head office is also shifting. While the legal and corporate head
office will remain in Houston the 'close to business' reasoning has
been argument for the move, prompting a whole host of criticism from
US political circles, many of whom interestingly espouse long speeches
on open world trade. The political heat did seem to lose some of its
teeth through the weekend when Halliburton announced it would actually
be hiring more people in the US as well as indeed in Dubai.

Halliburton, a company that started out in 1919 as the New Method Oil
Well Cementing Company by a certain Mr. and Mrs. Erle P Halliburton,
has not been free from controversy and media attention. Apart from the
political figures who have graced its corporate offices, including
presidents and vice presidents, the company has never been far from
controversy, whether it be selling oil technology to both Iraq and
Libya during the 1990's (when it was banned to do so) or the highly
controversial 'Tehran' office of a company called HPS (with a similar
logo to Halliburton) and offering Halliburton services to the oil
sector, Halliburton catches the limelight, either way, time and again.

But relocating offices and being close to the business is an argument
commonly used by many companies and it would seem that Nokia's
announcement to open a corporate office in the United States and it
would seem a major uproar has been caused in the States by political
circles for mileage. Indeed, what American circles are learning is
that Dubai has been more forthcoming in welcoming the move and the
ease of entry into the Dubai business scene is a huge plus for the
Dubai government. After all it was only a year back when the Dubai
Ports deal in the US caused unnecessary controversy and comment on
what was effectively a business deal.

While the critics will point to Halliburton's controversial recent
history and argue that in the face of investigations and fines perhaps
Halliburton will find being in Dubai away from the media attention may
be conducive to business. Either way the beneficiary of the move will
be Dubai with an estimated 13,000 employees, most of whom will be
relocated here or new hires from other regions brought in, the move
will boost not only the image of Dubai but also the economics of the
market place. In the wake of the move there is a likelihood that other
smaller companies who do regular business with Halliburton and its
subsidiary KBR, will also consider beefing up a presence in Dubai, not
forgetting that KBR is the largest single contractor working in Iraq.
Guess it will all be good for business.

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