On October 25 the U.S.-based Conti International, one of the main partners of Anaklia deep sea port project, announced that it has changed its decision about quitting the Anaklia Development Consortium and that it will stay in the project.
Earlier on October 16, the government decided not to terminate the contract with the Consortium and give it time till the end of the year to fulfill its obligations.
News about Conti International’s decision to quit the Anaklia Development Consortium emerged on August 15. Commenting on the issue, Levan Akhvlediani, director general of the Consortium, then said that “this is not a pleasant fact, but nothing has happened that may critically harm the project.”
However, the Ministry of Regional Development and Infrastructure called on Consortium to submit to the government a plan on attracting “western strategic investor” to the project, which would replace Conti Group at the same value.
The Consortium has been involved in negotiations with several potential investors over past two months, even offering a cooperation plan to the government, but failing to get the latter’s consent. On October 15, the Anaklia Development Consortium held a news briefing, accusing the government of “sabotaging” the Anaklia deep sea port project.
The Anaklia Development Consortium, a joint venture of Conti International and TBC Holding founded by Mamuka Khazaradze, former chairman of TBC Bank’s supervisory board, was awarded the contract to build and operate the deep sea port in 2016; marine engineering works commenced in December 2017 and the first phase of construction ended last autumn.
Developments around TBC Bank, including money-laundering allegations against its founder, Mamuka Khazaradze, earlier this year have brought the fate of the Anaklia project into question. Although the government officials have said the project would not be imperiled, the Anaklia Development Consortium claimed lack of clarity around TBC Bank would impede finalizing of the pending agreements on funding with foreign lenders.
Mamuka Khazaradze and his deputy, Badri Japaridze announced about their plans to quit Anaklia Development Consortium’s Supervisory Board on July 26, after Tbilisi City Court ruled that the founder and former Board Chair of the TBC Bank, Mamuka Khazaradze and his Deputy Badri Japaridze had to post a GEL 700,000 bail each after being charged in a money laundering lawsuit.
In September, Mamuka Khazaradze founded a public movement Lelo, planning to set up a political party in December and to run in the 2020 parliamentary elections.
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