News & Analysis

In deep water: Georgia’s Anaklia port continues search for investors

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The Anaklia Development Consortium (ADC), a group of international and Georgian companies, has identified a potential investor “who is still interested” in the construction of Anaklia Deep-Sea Port, a flagship project aimed at creating a new deep water port in western Georgia.

“ADC is using every means it has within its control to push the project forward, while we wait for the government’s support which is necessary to finalise negotiations with the investor and ensure the future of the project,” said the consortium in a statement, adding that the potential investor needs to have direct support and approval from the Georgian government – something which has not been forthcoming so far.

While the consortium claimed on December 16 that it had informed the Georgian government about the new investor, Georgia’s infrastructure ministry said that no new documents had been provided.

Georgian opposition figures, as well as Mamuka Khazaradze and Badri Japaridze, the founders of Georgia’s TBC Bank and the former heads of the consortium, have repeatedly challenged the Georgian government over its alleged stance on the project, claiming that the government is blocking its development from being completed.

Speaking at a conference on December 16, Georgia’s economy minister Natia Turnava said that the country needed the project “like air.” However, she stressed that the construction had been repeatedly postponed since 2017.

The Anaklia project was launched as a joint US-Georgian venture to create a new, deep water sea port on the Black Sea. The current members of the consortium are TBC Holding, SSA Marine from the US, British investment group Wondernet Express and G-Star from Bulgaria.

The first phase of the port was set to be fully operational by December 2020 with a handling capacity of up to 10,000 vessels. The construction is the largest infrastructure investment in Georgian history.

The project was financially jeopardised after Conti Group International, a major American investor in the construction of the port, announced that it would leave the consortium. “The group has not felt the support from the Georgian government for the project,” the company said in a statement in August.

A postponed deadline to submit the project’s new bank loan agreements expired on December 16. The ADC has now until December 31 to raise new capital.

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