Former Silmet Owner Plans to Turn Sillamäe into Tourism Center

Tiit Vähi Photo: Djen za Dnom/Scanpix
5/12/2011 9:32 AM
Category: Economy

Investor Tiit Vähi, who sold his majority stake in rare earth metals company Silmet for 62 million euros last month, has said he wants to invest part of the proceeds into turning the northeastern town of Sillamäe into a center for tourism.

"Ida-Viru County and Sillamäe's old town are very beautiful and I consider it possible that this magnet can bring in roll-on roll-off ferries and cruise ships," he was quoted by Ärileht as saying.

Sillamäe, the home of Silmet's operations, has traditionally been an industrial town focused on mining and mineral processing. It does, however, have a unique, planned city center dating from the Stalinist period.

Vähi said, however, that he wouldn't invest unless he would immediately start to see returns, and that he wants to know more about what Estonia's stance toward Russia is likely to be, noting that the current situation, or a further deterioration, would make such investment more risky.

Steve Roman

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