AD Ports buys majority stake in key Georgian dry port

Deal comes after the UAE and Georgia signed a Comprehensive Economic Partnership Agreement last year

AD Ports, which has a portfolio spanning 27 terminals, currently has a presence in more than 40 countries. Photo: AD Ports
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AD Ports Group, the operator of industrial cities and free zones in Abu Dhabi, has signed an agreement to buy a majority stake in a key dry port in Tbilisi, as the UAE and Georgia aim to boost bilateral ties after signing a Comprehensive Economic Partnership Agreement.

As part of the deal signed with Inveco, AD Ports will acquire a 60 per cent stake in Tbilisi dry port, the company said in a statement on Friday to the Abu Dhabi Securities Exchange, where its shares are traded.

It did not reveal the value of the deal.

A dry port is an inland terminal directly connected by road or rail to a seaport, operating as a hub for the transport of cargo to inland destinations.

The project, currently owned by Inveco and Wilhelmsen, is a logistics hub situated along the Middle Corridor – an emerging trade lane linking manufacturing hubs in Western Asia to consumer markets in Eastern Europe with a combination of sea and dry ports in Kazakhstan, Azerbaijan, Armenia, Georgia and Turkey.

The Middle Corridor is regarded as the shortest trade route between Asia and Europe, covering nearly 7,000km, with a journey time of 10 to 15 days.

The latest deal comes after the UAE and Georgia signed the Cepa in October, which aims to increase bilateral non-oil trade between the two countries to Dh5.5 billion ($1.5 billion) in five years.

AD Ports Group’s investment in the port “is set to deepen trade and investment ties, develop global trade lanes, and generate market access opportunities for UAE and Georgian businesses”, said Minister of State Ahmed Al Sayegh.

The project consists of two land parcels and will be developed in phases, said AD Ports.

By the end of the initial phase, the handling capacity at the port is expected to reach 96,500 twenty-foot equivalent units (TEU), with 10,000 square metres of warehouse and a car storage yard.

After the completion of phase three, the project will have a handling capacity of 286,000 TEUs, 100,000 square metres of warehouse and a significantly expanded car storage yard, AD Ports said.

The project is expected to be completed by the fourth quarter of 2024 and will be operated and managed by AD Ports subsidiary Noatum Logistics.

“By investing in, and operating, new strategic infrastructure and logistics hubs along the Caspian Sea-Black Sea Corridor, AD Ports Group is delivering on our strategy to strengthen global supply chains,” Capt Mohamed Al Shamsi, managing director and group chief executive of AD Ports Group, said.

AD Ports, which has a portfolio spanning 27 terminals, currently has a presence in more than 40 countries. Under Kezad Group, part of AD Ports, it also operates more than 550 square kilometres of economic zones in Abu Dhabi.

The company has been rapidly expanding its presence in recent years. In January, its Spanish operations division Noatum Terminals fully acquired APM Terminals Castellon for €10 million ($11 million) in a move to strengthen operations in the western Mediterranean region.

Last June, AD Ports signed a 50-year agreement with Karachi Port Trust, to boost infrastructure at the port in Pakistan’s commercial hub.

In February, AD Ports, with Kaheel Terminals, also secured a second port concession agreement in Karachi for bulk and general cargo operations. The joint venture plans to invest approximately $75 million in the first two years, with a further investment of $100 million within five years.

The company is also investing $3 million to develop three cruise terminals in Egypt as part of a 15-year concession agreement with the Red Sea Port Authority that covers the Safaga, Hurghada and Sharm El Sheikh ports.

Last year, AD Ports also signed a 30-year concession agreement with the government of the Republic of Congo to manage and operate a multipurpose New East Mole Terminal in the city of Pointe-Noire.

Updated: March 22, 2024, 10:24 AM