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20.08.2009

Unique (Flughafen Zürich AG) claims damage from Venezuela

In 2004, Unique (Flughafen Zürich AG) together with the Chilean company IDC signed a contract with the State of Venezuela covering the expansion and operation of the airport on Isla de Margarita. In the past, the consortium has repeatedly been constrained in operating the airport. Since several Venezuelan verdicts favoring the consortium's position were noneffective, the case shall now be judged by the International Center for Settlement of Investment Dispute (ICSID).

In February 2004, a consortium founded by Unique (Flughafen Zürich AG) and the Chilean Gestión e Ingeniería IDC S.A. (IDC) signed a strategic agreement with the Government of the Province of Nueva Esparta in Venezuela. This contract consisted of amplification and modernization work as well as the operation of the international airport on Isla de Margarita during the next 20 years. Unique (Flughafen Zürich AG) holds 49,5% of the shares of this consortium. The objective was to further develop the tourism on Isla de Margarita and to offer to all visitors and residents an airport of international standards. After producing deficits for decades the airport could be made profitable very quickly. This enabled the consortium to invest in accordance with the agreement in the improvement of quality and the increase of safety and security.

Lacking legal certainty in Venezuela
Despite these achievements, the in November 2004 newly elected governor of the Province of Nueva Esparta, Morel Rodríguez, declared the strategic agreement without justification as void and illegally took over the operation of the airport in June 2005. Following these events, the Administration Court of Venezuela ruled in favor of the consortium and stated the validity of the agreement. After another intervention by Morel Rodríguez in December 2005, the court affirmed its prior ruling in June 2006 and the airport was put under joint operation by a "Junta Interventora". This "Junta Interventora" was composed of several representatives of the Federal Court, the government of the province and of members of the consortium. On March 4, 2009 the management of the airport by the "Junta Interventora" was ceased by the Federal Court and handed to the Central Government of Venezuela.

This action is unacceptable for Unique (Flughafen Zürich AG). The airport operator will therefore try the case against Venezuela at the International Center for Settlement of Investment Dispute (ICSID) in Washington D.C., if no amicable settlement can be achieved in the next few months. This proceeding is based on the agreement for protection of investment between Venezuela and Switzerland. The participation of Unique (Flughafen Zürich AG) in the operating companies in Venezuela was completely written off in 2006.

Successful international activities in Latin America
Together with IDC Unique (Flughafen Zürich AG) is engaged at nine other airports in four Latin American countries. These engagements in Chile, Honduras, Colombia and the Netherlands Antilles are successful and run without major problems. Unique (Flughafen Zürich AG) affirms its international strategy and intends to conduct further minority investments in airports and participate in their operation in the markets of Latin America, India, Eastern Europe and the Middle East together with strong local partners.

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