Former Navy SEAL and Blackwater founder Erik Prince has a new security venture. This time he is helping Chinese firms to “take the drama out of Africa” by consulting on how the businesses should establish themselves and operate throughout the continent. Africa has become a major target for Chinese investment to secure access to the continent’s vast natural resources.
Prince’s new firm, Frontier Services Group (FSG), provides “logistics, aviation and risk management services to firms that want to set up in Africa.” Prince sold his stake in Blackwater in 2010 which is now known as Academi.
FSG is headquartered in Hong Kong and works closely with one of Communist China’s state-owned enterprises, CITIC Group. CITIC Group is a state-owned investment group worth approximately $12 billion with 44 subsidiaries and owns banks in Hong Kong, New Zealand, Australia, Canada, and the United States. At one time CITIC was in talks to acquire Morgan Stanley.
While the dictum “high risk, high return” applies to the continent, Prince said his customers – who are looking for bauxite, steel, energy, copper, tin or gold – should focus on another slogan: “happy locals, happy project”.
It is important for foreign companies to partner local businesses, he stressed, adding that Chinese firms face certain risks simply because they have a lot of people in Africa. “If there’s a concerted effort against some regime in a country, then anyone there helping that country build its infrastructure … will be subject to the wrath of that insurgency,” Prince said. “Some blame might get wrongly put on a Chinese firm that’s just there building a road, so there’s animosity directed towards them.”
Prince was in the news recently after one of his lieutenants allegedly told a US government investigator he could kill him without consequence in Iraq. Which apparently shut down the investigation into some of Blackwater’s activities during the US occupation of Iraq.
Now Prince will be operating in other parts of the world that often have difficulty enforcing the rule of law, this time on behalf of Communist China trying to secure needed resources in volatile areas. Something tells me Prince won’t be fearing government investigations.