Sunday, February 15, 2015

Arctic Port Expansion to Deepen PEU Ties?

Alaska Dispatch News reported:

The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers is set to unveil its first steps toward expanding deep-water Arctic ports in Alaska, and Corps officials said Friday they plan to start by expanding the existing Port of Nome.
Another Alaska Dispatch News story addressed typical funding for port expansion:

.. the cost estimate is likely to be in the hundreds of millions of dollars for the project, a cost that will likely be shared between the federal government and the state. Costs for the construction of the actual ports is typically shared, with federal coffers footing 65 percent of the bill while the state pays for 35 percent.
The Alaska Dispatch News is majority owned by Alice Rogoff Rubenstein, wife of Carlyle co-founder David Rubenstein.  Here's her vision:
Experts say if sea ice continues to melt at the rate it is today, a new shipping channel will open up through the Arctic Ocean by the year 2050. Alice Rogoff (Rubenstein) says that scientific prediction informs her vision of Alaska’s future.  “That means the Panama Canal runs along the western coast of Alaska,” Rogoff says. 

She envisions a year round deep water Arctic port in Nome or Port Clarence; smaller seasonal ports in Barrow and Kotzebue; and increased search and rescue capabilities and other services for the shipping industry throughout the region.

“If you were looking down from Mars in 2050, the western coast of Alaska would be all lit up,” says Rogoff Rubenstein. “There would be some form of commercial activity all the way from Barrow to Dutch Harbor.”
Rogoff Rubenstein is in a unique position to profit from her vision, as owner of two Alaska news organizations and Senior Advisor to Pt Capital, an Arctic focused private equity underwriter (PEU).

Where there's federal money one frequently finds a PEU. It's no surprise that Alaska insiders and modern day robber barons have  positioned themselves for massive profits.  

Consider earlier comments by parties involved.  Two Alaska legislators, Sen. Lesil McGuire (R-Anchorage) and Rep. Bob Herron (D-Bethel) said last year:

Ports aren’t the only thing Alaska needs, but a northern deep-water port will be key, he said. At the same time, there also needs to be an enclosed place in the Arctic that can accommodate a C-130 during the winter, he said. “They’ve got to go inside. They have to be inside a hangar in those conditions,” Herron said.

McGuire and Herron say that bringing in private investors can help, even if the state has to play a role.

“I’ve met with Guggenheim Partners, Carlyle Group, Citibank Energy,” McGuire said. “There’s nearly $100 billion in development planned, but it may not come to Alaska.”
Bloomberg reported Pt Capital's and Guggenheim Partners' interest in the region.  Their piece from April 2014 offered Carlyle's latest head fake:

Putting money into the Arctic is too far-fetched to consider, according to Washington-based Carlyle Group LP, which manages more than $189 billion.  

“It is such a frontier place,” Marcel van Poecke, managing director of Carlyle International Energy Partners, said in an interview at a conference in Lausanne, Switzerland, on April 2. “That is for the big oil companies.”
Pensions + Investments tells a different story on Carlyle's interest in Alaska.  This comes from July 2013:

Alaska Permanent Fund Corp., Juneau, committed a total of up to $1.75 billion to Carlyle Group and Blackstone Group, with half of the money committed to co-investments

Alaska Permanent also committed up to $375 million to two or three Carlyle private equity funds. It has targeted investments in Carlyle International Energy Partners and NGP Natural Resources XI. A yet-to-be-formed agribusiness or metals and mining fund might also receive an allocation. 

Mr. Burns said the sovereign wealth fund also committed up to $375 million for co-investments with Carlyle, focusing on the natural resource, metals and energy sectors. The specific funds for the investments have not been determined, he added.

Surely the Alaska Permanent Fund has expectations that some of its investments occur in state and that they benefit citizens.   Alice Rogoff Rubenstein and her husband David are intertwined with Alaska and its future, be it infrastructure, energy, real estate or other.  Managing the narrative is critical, thus it helps to control major news sources.  Garnering federal, state and local subsidies is the PEU way.  It's currently in play in Alaska.

Two things struck me as ironic as I wrote this story.  The first came from the Bloomberg article.

There’s a “tremendous irony” that burning fossil fuels has contributed to global warming, which makes it possible to extract more fossil fuels in the Arctic.--Michael Klare, political science professor, Hampshire College

The second is private equity, which took apart so many with its financial manipulation of acquired companies, is offered as the tonic for Alaska's widespread subsistence living.  Consider these words from a former reporter for a major financial publication:

I have seen so many people -- particularly those in their 50s - 70s -- taken apart by what has happened in their industry as greed has hollowed out the economy. These are people took pride in their jobs and held themselves to this invisible standard that we all just took for granted, but is being wiped out.
The Carlyle Group scares me more than anything I've ever seen on Wall Street. It seems to exist to corrupt politicians and it's hard to know who they even represent.

 It appears they represent the future of Alaska.