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Italian firms sign deals in Russia

Friday, June 17, 2016 - 08:00

[ROME] Italian companies signed deals with Russian firms on Thursday at a forum in St Petersburg where Italian organisers expect agreements worth billions of euros.

The Italian Conoscere Eurasia association said five contracts, two memorandums of understanding and two letters of intent were signed.

"The potential value of orders with Italy today and tomorrow will be a few billion euros in total," it said in a statement.

The European Union imposed sanctions after Russia annexed Crimea from Ukraine in March 2014 and stepped them up as the Kremlin backed rebels in eastern Ukraine. However, the sanctions apply mainly to some Russian banks and oil companies.

European Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker defended his decision to attend the St Petersburg forum, saying it was common sense to talk despite lingering tensions.

Italian companies in the construction, start-up financing, energy, electricity technology and infrastructure sectors signed Thursday's deals. No value was given for any of them.

Memorandums of understanding were signed between builder Salini Impregilo and Russia's Rosavtodor to develop road infrastructure, and between building firm Pizzarotti and the North Caucasus Development Corporation.

Italian cable maker Prysmian agreed to supply Russian power generation firm Rosseti with extra-high voltage cables produced at its Russian plant at Rybinsk, Prysmian chief executive Cesare Biggiogera told Reuters by phone from Russia.

"There is no exact figure attached to the agreement, but we can expect around 50 million euros (S$75.8 million) additional (annual) revenues thanks to today's accord," Mr Biggiogera said.

Rosseti also signed up with Italian firm CESI to set up a development and testing centre for electrical technology. Tesmec agreed to provide Rosseti with technology for electricity lines.

Financing firm Mikro Kapital and lender Gorod Deneg signed a contract to set up and run a fund to give guarantees to investors in start-ups. Amusement rides company Zamperla agreed to plan an amusement park in the Stavropol area.

Builder Codest, engineering firm Tenova and Silarus signed a letter of intent to build a metalised silicon plant in Russia. Codest signed another with Maire Tecnimont and Azot to build a fertiliser factory in Western Siberia.

Italian Prime Minister Matteo Renzi is due to attend the forum, as are Eni CEO Claudio Descalzi and executives from utility Enel, defence group Leonardo-Finmeccanica , tyremaker Pirelli and pasta maker Barilla.

Italian export credit agency Sace said separately it had signed an agreement with Russia's state development bank VEB to help Italian companies in Russia, where Sace said it was looking into potential projects worth about 1 billion euros.

REUTERS