UAE port operator consolidates acquisition fund with Russian partners

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A view of the Russian Baltic Sea port of Ust Luga. Photo - ust-luga.ru

The UAE’s second largest ports operator announced on Monday it is setting up a $500m fund with its Russian partners as part of extending operations in the Gulf, Asia and Russia.

Gulftainer Co. recently signed a $275 million deal to co-develop and operate Ust-Luga, a Russian port in the Baltic Sea.

“We see huge potential in Russia and we are looking at both – greenfields and existing ports – for acquisitions,” Badr Jafar told reporters on the sidelines of a conference in Abu Dhabi.

The company executive added that at least one more deal would be concluded in Russia later this year. He also added that the financial potential for port operators in Russia is immense due to the fact that only five ports currently manage 86% of the country’s total container traffic.

“We are also looking at potential acquisitions in the Gulf and Asia,” he said without giving further details.

Gulftainer, a subsidiary of the Sharjah-based Crescent group of companies and one of the largest private port and logistics operator in the Middle East also operates ports in Brazil, Comoros, Iraq, Pakistan and Turkey.

“The size of the fund could be potentially doubled,” he said but refused to give a timeline.

Gulftainer has seen an average 10% growth in Sharjah over the last five years, he added.

The Sharjah-based firm handled 4 million TEUs, or twenty-foot equivalent units, last year of which 3.3 million TEUs was in the UAE.

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