In the mid-2000s, DP World and Djibouti signed a suite of contracts under which DP World designed, built, and manages a state-of-the-art container terminal in exchange for 33% ownership of the terminal and a management fee. The terminal is worth in the vicinity of $2 billion and earns tens of millions in profit each year. In the arbitration, Djibouti sought either to rescind the main concession agreement and take full ownership of the terminal or to terminate the agreement and receive hundreds of millions of dollars in damages.
Djibouti’s primary contention was that DP World had bribed Djiboutian businessman Abdourahman Boreh – the Djiboutian government chief negotiator – by entering into various consulting arrangements and other business dealings with Boreh around the time that the contracts were signed. Djibouti claimed that these transactions between DP World and Boreh entitled it to rescind or terminate the concession.
In response, Compass Lexecon Expert Professor Pablo Spiller, supported by a team led by Compass Lexecon Executive VP Santiago Dellepiane and included Lyle Boller and Rachel Marx from Compass Lexecon’s New York office, testified that given the vast wealth created by the Concession to both Djibouti and its citizens there was no viable way by which rescission could be implemented in such a way that the parties be brought back to the status-quo ante. In February 2017, an arbitration panel issued its decision rejecting all of Djibouti’s claims. As a result, DP World retains its partial ownership of a $2 billion port and maintains its position as manager of the port. Compass Lexecon worked closely with A. William Urquhart, Anthony Sinclair and Jonathan Cooper of Quinn Emanuel Urquhart & Sullivan, LLP.