Halliburton's Dubai Move: Smart Or Un-American?


Dubai is again the flashpoint of a patriotism-versus-globalism debate. This time, it's not about a foreign firm encroaching on U.S. shores, but an American company shifting its headquarters to the emirate -- and when the firm is oilfield-services provider Halliburton, everyone has an opinion.

Sarah Anderson, a fellow at the Institute for Policy Studies, joined "Morning Call" to tell of her suspicions: She alleged that CEO Dave Lesar's decision to move corporate HQ to Dubai has an awful lot to do with Democrats taking control of Congress.

Anderson told CNBC's Liz Claman that she believes Lesar is moving ahead of an expected inquiry into Halliburton's "war profiteering" in Iraq -- where the firm has been accused of overbilling U.S. taxpayers to the tune of $2.7 billion.

But Brad Handler, securities analyst at Wachovia, scoffed at Anderson's allegation that Lesar is seeking a haven from scrutiny in the famously laissez-faire Dubai. Handler pointed out that Halliburton's work for the U.S. government is handled through its KBR subsidiary (likely soon to be spun off) -- which will remain headquartered in the U.S.

He said that there are "no tax implications" at all to Halliburton's move, and maintained that the relocation from Houston to the United Arab Emirates member was merely meant to harness resources more efficiently and build a "stronger local presence" in a country that remains a key U.S. ally.

Anderson declared that this "time of war" demands a sense of "shared sacrifice...like in WWII" -- and that Lesar is sending Americans a "terrible message" by apparently "taking the money and running." Handler, however, said the move "may be more nominal" than substantive.