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Posts Tagged ‘North Carolina’

Former Blackwater bought by investment group

Posted by Admin on December 18, 2010

Blackwater Worldwide's new company logo--refer...

Blackwater now Renamed Xe Services

http://news.yahoo.com/s/ap/20101217/ap_on_bi_ge/us_blackwater_sale

Erik Prince

AP – FILE – In this July 2008 file photo, Erik Prince, founder and CEO of then Blackwater Worldwide, now called Xe Services

RALEIGH, N.C. – An investment group with ties to the founder of the company formerly known as Blackwater announced Friday that it has bought the security firm, which was heavily criticized for its contractors’ actions in Iraq.

USTC Holdings said in a statement that the acquisition of the company now called Xe Services includes its training facility in North Carolina.

Terms of the deal were not disclosed. But the statement said owner and founder Erik Prince will no longer have an equity stake and no longer be involved in Xe’s management or operations. The company will be managed by a board appointed by the equity holders and will include independent, unaffiliated directors, the statement said.

Prince founded the company in 1997 along with former colleagues from the Navy SEALs.

The ownership group is led by two private equity firms, including New York-based Forte Capital Advisors. Forte managing partner Jason DeYonker has been a longtime financial adviser to Prince, helping him expand the Moyock, N.C., training grounds and negotiating Blackwater’s first training contracts with the U.S. government.

“The future of this industry belongs to those companies with the highest standards of governance, transparency, and performance,” DeYonker said.

Xe announced in June that it was seeking a buyer. At the time, Prince said selling the company was a difficult decision, but constant criticism of Xe helped him make up his mind.

“Performance doesn’t matter in Washington, just politics,” he said.

In August, Prince moved to Abu Dhabi.

The private company became famous as Blackwater, which provided guards and services to the U.S. government in Iraq, Afghanistan and elsewhere. It became one of the most respected defense contractors in the world, but also attracted sharp criticism over its role in those missions.

It has been trying to rehabilitate its image since a 2007 shooting in Baghdad that killed 17 people, outraged the Iraqi government and led to federal charges against several Blackwater guards. The accusations later were thrown out of court after a judge found prosecutors mishandled evidence.

In March, Senate Armed Services Committee Chairman Carl Levin suggested the Pentagon should consider banning Xe from a $1 billion deal to train Afghan police. The Michigan Democrat said he thought the company’s involvement was hindering the U.S. mission in Afghanistan.

Earlier this year, Xe sold its aviation division for $200 million to Wood Dale, Ill.-based AAR Corp. Also, five former executives, including Gary Jackson, the company’s ex-president, were indicted on charges of conspiring to violate federal firearms laws. Jackson was among the top officials who left the company last year in a management shake-up.

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Island evacuations start as Earl nears East Coast

Posted by Admin on September 1, 2010

NASA Satellite Captures Hurricane Danielle, Hu...

Image by NASA Goddard Photo and Video via Flickr

RALEIGH, N.C. – Powerful Hurricane Earl wheeled toward the East Coast, driving the first tourists Wednesday from North Carolina vacation islands and threatening damaging winds and waves up the Atlantic seaboard over Labor Day weekend.

Visitors were taking ferries off Ocracoke Island and told to leave neighboring Cape Hatteras in North Carolina’s Outer Banks, and federal authorities have warned people all along the Eastern seaboard to be prepared to evacuate.

Virginia’s Gov. Bob McDonnell declared a state of emergency as a precaution, allowing the state to position staff and resources ahead of the storm. Emergency officials as far north as Maine urged people to have disaster plans and supplies ready.

Earl was still more than 700 miles south-southeast of Cape Hatteras, with top sustained winds of 125 mph. It was on track to near the North Carolina shore late Thursday or early Friday and then blow north along the coast, with forecasters cautioning that it was still too early to tell how close the storm may come to land.

The National Weather Service issued a hurricane warning for much of the North Carolina coast and hurricane watches from Virginia to Delaware.

Not since Hurricane Bob in 1991 has such a powerful storm had such a large swath of the East Coast in its sights, said Dennis Feltgen, spokesman for the National Hurricane Center.

“A slight shift of that track to the west is going to impact a great deal of real estate with potential hurricane-force winds,” Feltgen said.

Even if Earl stays well offshore, it will kick up rough surf and dangerous rip currents up and down the coast through the Labor Day weekend, a prime time for beach vacations, forecasters said.

The only evacuation orders so far affected parts of the Outer Banks, thin strips of beach and land that face the open Atlantic.

Tourist cars, some with campers in tow, lined up for the first ferries of the day from Ocracoke to the mainland. Another car ferry connects to Hatteras, which has a bridge to the mainland and came under the second evacuation order a little later Wednesday morning.

The evacuation orders are called mandatory, but Julia Jarema, spokeswoman for the state Division of Emergency Management, said it doesn’t mean people will be forced from their homes. Local law enforcement officials may do something such as going door-to-door and asking people who stay behind for their information about their next of kin.

Emergency officials said they hoped Ocracoke’s 800 or so year-round residents would heed the call to leave. But Carol Paul said she and husband Tom would stay put if the current forecasts hold. Only a direct hit from a stronger storm would drive them from the island where they’ve lived for seven years, running an antiques store.

“There’s never been a death on Ocracoke from a hurricane, so we feel pretty comfortable,” Carol Paul 57, said as tourists departed on ferries and her husband, also a construction contractor, worked to board up the windows of clients and friends’ homes. “Everything here is made pretty much with hurricanes in mind.”

The approaching storm troubled many East Coast beach towns that had hoped to capitalize on the BP oil spill and draw visitors who normally vacation on the Gulf Coast.

Carl Hanes of Newport News, Va., kept an eye on the weather report as he headed for the beach near his rented vacation home in Avon, N.C. He, his wife and their two teenage children were anticipating Earl might force them to leave on Thursday, a day ahead of schedule.

“We’re trying not to let it bother us,” Hanes said before enjoying the calm surf.

In Rehoboth Beach, Del., Judy Rice said she has no plans to leave the vacation home where she has spent most of the summer. In fact, the Oak Hill, Va., resident plans to walk around town in the rain if it comes.

“I kind of enjoy it actually. You know, it’s battling the elements,” Rice said. “I have seen the rain go sideways, and, yeah, it can be scary, but I have an old house here in Rehoboth, so it’s probably more important that I am here during a storm than anywhere.”

In the Florida Panhandle, which has struggled all summer to coax back tourists scared away by the Gulf oil spill, bookings were up 12 percent over last year at the Sandestin Golf and Beach Resort. The resort is nowhere near Earl’s projected path, and spokeswoman Laurie Hobbs said she suspects the increase in reservations was partly because of a discount the hotel is offering and partly because of the hurricane.

“Weather drives business,” she said. “They go to where the weather is best.”

If Earl brings rain farther inland, it could affect the U.S. Open tennis tournament, being played now through Sept. 12 in New York City.

“We’re keeping our eye on it very closely,” said United States Tennis Association spokesman Chris Widmaier.

___

Associated Press Writers Martha Waggoner in Raleigh, Jack Jones in Columbia, S.C., Kathleen Miller in Washington; David Sharp in Portland, Maine; Suzette Laboy in Miami; Bob Lewis in Bristol, Va., contributed to this report.

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