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Mon 2 Apr 2012 07:00 PM

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UAE's Gulftainer eyes growth in Russia, Asia

UAE's second largest ports operator sets up $500m fund with Russian partners

UAE's Gulftainer eyes growth in Russia, Asia
(Photo for illustrative purposes only)

Gulftainer Co, the UAE's second largest ports operator, has set up a $500m fund with Russian partners as it eyes more acquisitions in Russia, the Gulf and Asia, its vice chairman said on Monday.

The ports operator signed a $275 million deal last year to co-develop and operate Russia's Baltic port of Ust-Luga.

"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 hopes to conclude at least one deal in Russia this year, he said.

The commercial potential for port operators is immense in Russia as only five ports currently manage 86 percent of the country's total container traffic, he said.

"We are also looking at potential acquisitions in the Gulf and Asia," he said, declining to be more specific.

Gulftainer operates ports in the UAE, Turkey, Iraq, Comoros, Brazil and Pakistan.

The planned $500 million logistics and ports fund will be jointly managed by Gulftainer and its Russian partners, he said.

"The size of the fund could be potentially doubled," he said, without giving a timeline.

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

Globally, Gulftainer handled 4 million TEUs, or twenty-foot equivalent units, in 2011, of which 3.3 million TEUs was in the UAE.

Gulftainer is a subsidiary of the Sharjah-based Crescent group of companies and the largest private port and logistics operator in the Middle East.

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