By Atom Markarian
The ethnic Armenian owner of an Argentine company that runs Armenia’s main international airport unveiled on Tuesday plans to invest millions of dollars in the country’s agribusiness sector as he set up a joint venture with a local firm.
Senior executives from Tierras de Armenia, a Yerevan-based company belonging to billionaire Eduardo Eurnekian, and Max Group said they are joining forces to develop 6,000 hectares of arid land in the southern Armavir region into fruit orchards. They pledged to invest up to $25 million in the venture in the next few years.
“In the next five or six years we will also set up a fairly big fruit processing plant in the area,” said Mher Bagratian, a major Max Group shareholder.
“We believe that this is going to be a long-term business project that could assist in the country’s further development,” said Marcelo Vende, the chief executive of Yerevan’s Zvartnots airport who represents Eurnekian.
Max Group’s activities are quite diverse, ranging from fuel imports to agribusiness. One of its two other owners is Harutiun Pambukian, a wealthy parliamentarian close to President Robert Kocharian.
Senior government officials present at the signing of the deal welcomed Eurnekian’s decision to expand his business presence in Armenia into agriculture. “Agriculture is gradually becoming a profitable area for doing business,” Agriculture Minister David Lokian told RFE/RL.
Eurnekian is primarily known as the main owner of a consortium operating 33 airports across Argentina and elsewhere in South America. He also owns 200,000 hectares of land and food processing factories in northern Argentina.
Eurnekian’s Corporacion America runs Zvartnots in accordance with a 30-year management contract which it signed with the Armenian government three years ago. The company launched last June the construction of a new terminal which is supposed to bring the airport into conformity with international standards. It estimated the total cost of the project at more than $40 million.
(RFE/RL archive: Eduardo Eurnekian.)