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Russian billionaire Khodorkovsky involved in major Tbilisi projects worth $100m

Wednesday, April 22
Russian billionaire Mikhail Khodorkovsky is involved in implementing two large-scale projects in Georgia’s capital Tbilisi, worth about one hundred million USD (about 203 million GEL).

The first involved opening the East Point Shopping and Entertainment Centre and the other was the establishment of the Tbilisi Garden residential complex, announced business and economic news website

Quadrum Global, the company responsible for building both facilities, was partly owned by the Russian billionaire, who was a former owner of Russian oil and gas company Yukos. The company is also jointly owned by Khodorkovsky’s business partner Platon Lebedev.

According to the Russian edition of Forbes, Quadrum Global’s assets were worth approximately $2 billion USD. To note, the company owned real estate in the United States, the United Kingdom, Vietnam, Ukraine and Georgia.

Some details of the East Point Shopping and Entertainment Centre have already been announced. The facility will occupy an area of 65,000 sqm and will be located on the motorway connecting the city centre with Tbilisi International Airport, on the eastern edge of Tbilisi known as the "Kakheti Highway”. It is a 10 minute drive from Freedom Square in central Tbilisi, a 15 minute drive from Rustavi city and about one hour from Armenia or Azerbaijan.

The area was regarded as a good transportation link with growing residential demand. It is believed the facility will enjoy approximately 70,000 patrons daily.

Project developers said this will be Georgia’s first open-concept retail and entertainment complex – a unique offering in a market with a growing demand for international-quality shopping.

Phase I of the development will encompass building the foundations and an area that will accommodate a hypermarket, the city’s first DIY store, the first electronics superstore and a 27,000 sqm outdoor fashion mall. The facility will also boast more than 2,000 parking places.

The mall will also provide a comprehensive leisure space the whole family can enjoy, with a multiplex cinema, bowling alley, children’s education and entertainment centre and food outlets. All shops will have front doors on the ground floor.

The total development cost of Phase I of East Point will reach approximately $60 million USD. This will be fully funded by the developer. Construction has begun, with ground and perimeter works already completed. The East Point website noted Phase I of the project was expected to be completed at the end of 2014, however this did not come to pass.

Regarding the second project, in 2011 Khodorkovsky and Lebedev purchased land measuring four ha in Tbilisi’s Saburtalo district. Here Quadrum Global was currently constructing the 150,000 sqm Tbilisi Garden residential complex, according to the Forbes Russian edition.

Global commercial real estate advisory company Colliers International noted that the Tbilisi Garden project will cost $30 million USD.

However, in 2003 Khodorkovsky was arrested and sentenced to eight years imprisonment for fraud, embezzlement and tax evasion, during is tenure as an owner of Yukos.

In 2010 Khodorkovsky again faced the wrath of the law, this time alongside his business partner Lebedev. His prison sentence was extended to 14 years. At the time the West criticised Khodorkovsky’s arrest and stated that the Russian billionaire was "Putin’s private prisoner”.

Russian President Vladimir Putin pardoned Khodorkovsky in 2013. (