Andrew Ross Sorkin and Ben Protess
December 16, 2010
- A d v e r t i s e m e n t
Erik D. Prince, the founder of the private security firm formerly known as Blackwater Worldwide, has reached a deal to sell his embattled firm to a small group of investors based in Los Angeles who have close ties to Mr. Prince, according to people briefed on the deal.
Blackwater, now called Xe Services, was once the United States’ go-to contractor in Iraq and Afghanistan. It has been under intense pressure since 2007, when Blackwater guards were accused of killing 17 civilians in Nisour Square in Baghdad. The company, its executives and personnel have faced civil lawsuits, criminal charges and Congressional investigations surrounding accusations of murder and bribery. In April, federal prosecutors announced weapons charges against five former senior Blackwater executives, including its former president.
The sale, which is expected to be announced on Friday, came after the State Department threatened to stop awarding contracts to the company as long as Mr. Prince owned the firm, people involved in the discussions said. These people requested anonymity because they were not authorized to speak about the confidential talks. The sale is intended to help shake the stigma associated with its ownership under Mr. Prince.