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Deripaska Holds Talks on Future of Unprofitable Olympic Port

Russian billionaire Oleg Deripaska’s Basic Element is holding talks on the future of an unprofitable $200 million port built on the Black Sea near the resort city of Sochi for the 2014 Winter Olympics.

The port is handling one-fifth of its planned volume because freight was re-directed to roads and railways, Basic Element said in an e-mailed statement today. The Moscow-based company, which is in negotiations about the port, said it had “agreed to invest in this project under certain conditions which have changed over two to three years.”

Russia’s state-owned development bank, Vnesheconombank, may write off a loan of 4 billion rubles ($132 million) to Basic Element for the construction of the Imeretinsky port, the Kommersant newspaper said today, citing a person with knowledge of the talks and a state official, without identifying them.

Basic Element may transfer the port to Olimpstroi, the state company that supervises Olympic construction projects, without compensation, Kommersant said, citing an unidentified person. Another possibility is that VEB, as the lender is known, may sell the port’s land or real estate that may be built there to cover the debt, the newspaper said.

Basic Element said VEB financed part of the construction, without giving further details. VEB declined to comment, as did Olimpstroi.

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