Latvia sells Ventspils port through eBay

By bne IntelliNews February 1, 2008

Mike Collier in Riga -

The Baltic states have always been progressive when it comes to reforming their economies, but the Latvia took things to a new level on Friday, February 1 by putting the Ventspils port terminal up for sale on eBay.

The starting price for the auction is $2m (£1m) for which the prospective buyer will get 5,500 square meters of administrative buildings, workshops, garage, warehouse and there is even an indoor swimming pool and sauna are included in the price.

Ventspils transit port is an important oil export terminal for Russian crude oil and a major entrepot for goods coming into the countries of the former Soviet Union. There are no bids for the port yet, but there are a few enquiries asking for more information.

The sales description says: "The land and the berth are owned under the long-term leasing agreement with the state port authoritues [sic] for 45 years. The terminal is located on the teritory [sic] of the Free port of Ventspils, Latvia (Baltic sea). Distance to the railway track - 10 m. Object could be used as the crago [sic] transit terminal, goods` storage, fishing base, water tourism centre, hotel (sauna and indoor pool are included) or yacht club."

While bizarre items that turn out to be bogus offers aren't uncommon on eBay, this one is unusual in that it is apparently a completely genuine listing.

Potential buyers are unable to check the seller's reputation as unsurprisingly this the first time the seller has used eBay. Moreover, under the "check how you're protected" link eBay has in bold text: "this item is not covered by buyer protection on eBay."

bne has learned that the zero-feedback seller, '968annam' is lawyer Anna Marchak, acting as an agent for the current leasing company which wishes to remain anonymous.

"It was my idea," Ms Marchak told bne. "It was the first thing that I thought of so I decided to just do it. I hope we get a lot of interest from serious buyers." She did not believe that the fact that this is her first eBay sale would prove a handicap.

Sarma Kočāne, spokesperson for the Latvian Transport Ministry, couldn't see what all the fuss was about. "Okay, so they want to lease a terminal to another business. What's the problem?" she said.

Marketing manager Igors Udodas of the Port of Ventspils Authority was surprised to learn that a terminal was for sale online. "This is the first I have heard of this," he told bne.

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