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FACTBOX-Georgia's booming foreign investment

Sunday, December 30, 2007


Dec 30 (Reuters) - Ex-Soviet Georgia, which votes in a presidential election on Jan. 5, has seen a sharp rise in foreign investment under President Mikhail Saakashvili as his government pushed through economic reform and sold state assets.

In 2007, according to the government's estimates, Georgia will receive $1.5 billion in foreign direct investments compared with $1.0 billion in 2006.

Below are few facts about biggest purchases of Georgian state firms by foreign companies in the past few years:

* Russian mobile operator Vimpelcom has bought 51 percent of Georgian cellular operator Mobitel in 2006 for $12.6 million and started operating in Georgia this year.

* Turkey, Georgia and Azerbaijan signed an agreement to jointly construct a railway branch line that will connect Georgia to Turkey. The $422 million project is expected to boost cargo transit from Central Asia and China to Europe.

* Georgian-Russian company Energy Invest acquired the Azot plant in the city of Rustavi for $20 million in 2005.

* GeoProMining, a subsidiary of Russia's Industrial Investors, owns a controlling stake in Madneuli ore enrichment plant in Georgia.

* Rupert Murdoch's News Corp. (NWSa.N: Quote, Profile, Research) holds a 49-percent stake in the Imedi television station. The rest is owned by Georgian businessman Badri Patarkatsishvili.
* HSBC (HSBA.L: Quote, Profile, Research), Europe's biggest bank, plans to open a new banking division in Georgia, following other international lenders that have taken stakes in leading banks in Georgia.

* Bank of Georgia (BGEOq.L: Quote, Profile, Research), the country's No.1 bank by assets, is now more than 80 percent owned by institutional investors -- including funds such as Firebird and East Capital.

* Bank of Georgia is the most liquid stock on the Georgian Stock Exchange and was the first Georgian firm to trade in London, where it raised $160 million in an initial public offering and issued $200 million of Eurobonds last year.

* Among other big investors in Georgia's booming banking sector are French Societe Generale (SOGN.PA: Quote, Profile, Research), VTB, Russia's second-largest state bank, and TuranAlem BTAS.KZ, Kazakhstan's No.2 lender.

* Most power stations and distribution firms are now in the hands of private investors such as Russia's Unified Energy System (EESR.MM: Quote, Profile, Research) and Czech company Energy Pro. Energy Pro bought electricity distribution company UDC, which supplies energy to consumers in almost all regions of the country, for $132 million.

* Owners of Batumi oil terminal include Kazakh state oil firm KazMunaiGas and France's bank BNP Paribas.

* Hotel operators Radisson, Hyatt, Intercontinental have bought properties in Tbilisi.

* Swiss Multiplex Solutions has bought Georgia's state-owned water supply company, Tbilisi Water Ltd, which includes a hydro power plant, for $85 million. (Reporting by Niko Mchedlishvili and Margarita Antidze)

Posted by MOHAMED SAID at 11:29 AM  


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