VILNIUS - Lithuanian businessman Igor Udovickij says a controversial deal on Biriu Kroviniu Terminalas' (Bulk Cargo Terminal, or BKT) investments in Klaipeda is necessary to be able to handle Belarus' growing fertilizer exports via the Lithuanian seaport.
Under the planned deal, BKT, which is co-owned by Udovickij and Belarus' potash fertilizer manufacturer Belaruskali, would buy shares in Nemuno Terminalas, another cargo handling company that is owned by the Udovickij family.
The businessman says the deal would help create a single complex with new warehouses for receiving cargo.
The Lithuanian government discussed the deal and took a decision last week, but no details were made public due to confidentiality reasons.
Several sources have told BNS that the Cabinet decided to allow the deal to go ahead, but instructed a governmental commission to put in place certain additional safeguards in light of risks identified by the State Security Department.
In his written response to BNS' request to comment on the Cabinet's decision, Udovickij said he was waiting for the procedure to be completed.
"BKT always carries out all of its activities using its own funds. In such cases, the formal procedure always requires approval from the Competition Council. Nemuno Terminalas' territory will be merged into BKT's territory to create a single production complex," he said.
Plans call for building warehouses on Nemuno Terminalas' grounds to be able to receive Belaruskali's increasing fertilizer volumes. Otherwise, fertilizer shipments will be go to other ports, he said.
"BKT's potential will increase from the current 12 million tons to 16 million tons per year. This is the volume that Belarus plans to export in 2024-2025. If we fail to do so, additional potash fertilizer volumes will be diverted to other ports," Udovickij told BNS.
According to the businessman, the draft at quays number 101-106 must be depend to 15.5 meters to ensure fertilizer flows. That would allow BKT to accommodate ships up to 100,000 deadweight tons.
In his words, Belaruskali has never raised the issue of increasing its shareholding in BKT.
Udovickij is the majority shareholder of both BKT and Nemuno Terminalas. The two companies are located next to each other in the port.
Based on data from the Center of Registers, Udovickij holds a 70 percent stake in BKT and Belaruskali owns the remaining 30 percent of shares. Nemuno Terminalas is 100 percent owned by Udovickij and Olga Udovickaja via Ferteksos Transportas.