* To invest in toll roads, ports, airports
* Follows Putin’s recent plans for new investment in roads, railways
MOSCOW, Sept 11 (Reuters) - Abu Dhabi plans to invest $5 billion in Russian infrastructure in a venture to be set up with the country’s state-backed private equity fund, aimed at funding toll roads, ports and airports, the Kremlin and the Russian fund said on Wednesday.
Moves to improve infrastructure, some of which has changed little since Soviet times, are considered vital by investors to modernise Russia and make its economy more competitive.
President Vladimir Putin unveiled a $13 billion investment plan to build new roads and railways at an economic forum in St Petersburg in June.
“We believe we can deliver attractive returns investing in Russian infrastructure,” said Kirill Dmitriev, chief executive of the state-backed Russian Direct Investment Fund.
“We see there is a huge (development) pipeline of toll roads, ports and airports. So it means investing in attractive cashflow businesses with significant government support.”
Dmitriev expects investments in projects to start next year and that it will take five to seven years for the funds to be invested.
The accord with Abu Dhabi is expected to be signed during talks between Putin and Crown Prince Sheikh Mohammed bin Zayed on Thursday, the Kremlin said in a statement.
The emirate’s finance department will co-invest in the joint venture together with the RDIF. The RDIF will co-invest in each project, although is not disclosing by how much.
The RDIF, created to give major foreign investors greater comfort in Russia’s uncertain business environment, expects other sovereign wealth funds and investors to join the venture at a later date.
The announcement comes months after the RDIF set up a $2 billion fund with Abu Dhabi-based Mubadala Development to fund projects in Russia across industry sectors.
Russia has been trying to attract investment from around the world for various projects, and the Middle East’s oil wealth is a key area to tap.
Investment so far from the region has been minimal, although there have been some commitments made over the past year.