Friday, October 19, 2007

'Blackwater Worldwide' - Company re-brands for growth

Reflecting confidence in future demand for its products and services, Blackwater USA has re-branded itself as Blackwater Worldwide. The change has been in the works for 9 months, and has taken effect amid the global media controversy about its diplomatic security services in Iraq.

Longtime Blackwater critic Bill Sizemore of the Virginian-Pilot, the Norfolk-area daily that's a hometown paper of sorts to the company, says that Blackwater has lots more business beyond its State Department security contracts, and that it can afford to lose Foggy Bottom as a client.

Says Sizemore, "Losing the huge State Department contract – which has brought the company more than $800 million in revenue since 2004 – would undoubtedly be a blow to Blackwater, but it would not be a death knell. The 10-year-old company has developed many other lines of business:

  • It provides tactical training to every branch of the armed services and many federal, state and local law enforcement agencies.

  • In the past two months, it has been named one of five companies to share a five-year federal counter narcotics contract that could be worth up to $15 billion and has won a four-year, $92 million contract to provide aviation services in central Asia. Its aviation affiliate owns 40 aircraft.

  • It has acquired an oceangoing ship for training and potential paramilitary use.

  • It is building and marketing an armored personnel carrier and a surveillance airship.

  • It continues to seek a role providing private armed forces in support of international peacekeeping and nation-building operations. The company is organizing a symposium to promote the idea Dec. 4-5 in Washington.

Reflecting its broadening horizons, the company has recently changed its name from “Blackwater USA” to “Blackwater Worldwide.” Anne Tyrrell, a company spokeswoman, said the rebranding has been in the works for nine months.

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