Chisinau airport’s new concessionaire is adamant that its newly-established agreement to manage the Moldovan hub cannot be overturned, despite political moves towards such an end.
Moldova’s president, Igor Dodon, has described the privatisation as a “criminal decision” by the former government.
He has requested the economics and infrastructure ministry to gather information on the transaction, under which management firm Avia Invest sold a 95% shareholding to NR Investments, as well as the status of investments planned for the airport.
Dodon chaired a security council meeting earlier this month at which the privatisation was discussed, with the president’s office insisting that Avia Invest’s contractual rights should be terminated and the airport “restored to state ownership”.
NR Investments’ Nat Rothschild says the company and other financial firms need to have confidence – before undertaking any investment – that the airport will not be arbitrarily renationalised.
“We observe with serious concern mounting political events surrounding our involvement, which are being expressed by government officials,” he adds.
“We stand firm, there is no legal basis, whatsoever, to challenge our contract under Moldovan law.”
NR Investments is intending to channel a “significant percentage” of pledged funding this year to runway modernisation and enhancement of Chisinau’s terminal building.
“Our focus since the outset has been to meet all the agreed-upon contract terms with the state of Moldova as we improve the management and day-to-day operation of this expanding airport and promote continued growth in passenger numbers,” Rothschild adds.
But he stresses that Avia Invest must have “certainty” that its “legitimate” property rights under the concession contract are respected.
Moldova is a signatory to multiple bilateral investment protection treaties, he adds, and the Moldovan supreme court previously upheld the legality of the concession contract.