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Zvartnots International Airport November 09 www. bus- ex. com 101 I t is estimated that around 11 million Armenians are scattered all around the world but only a little over three million still live in Armenia itself. And the diaspora seem to have done very well, with a reputation for hard work and the ability to seize every opportunity. A high proportion seem to have done outstandingly. From Levon Chilingirian, who founded one of the world's finest string quartets, to oil magnate Calouste Gulbenkian and the French Prime Minister from the 1990s Édouard Balladur, Armenians are well represented in the ranks of the rich and influential. Eduardo Eurnekian is a second- generation exile born in Argentina who has amassed a $ 1 billion portfolio of businesses, including over 35 airports in South America but who, like Gulbenkian before him, has retained strong ties with his ancestral homeland. Eurnekian has invested heavily in related businesses in Armenia and in December 2001, his company Corporación América, the parent of Armenian International Airports ( AIA), signed a 30- year concession agreement with the Armenian government for the management of operations at Zvartnots International Airport. This is the country's largest airport, serving the capital Yerevan. As part of the deal, Corporación América has invested millions of dollars in upgrading the airport to take it from its communist- era function as a point on the internal network of the USSR to a modern international airport in a strategic position. Originally opened in 1961, Zvartnots needed completely new facilities to make it capable of handling tourist and commercial traffic and taking what Marcelo Wende, managing director of AIA, sees as its natural position as the stopping point between east and west, Asia and Europe as well as north and south and the Middle East and Russia. Wende takes us back to all those expatriate Armenians. " We expect that once the facilities are there we will see a huge increase in Armenian tourists from the USA and Gemmo is one of the largest Italian companies in the technological plant and facility management sector. Founded in 1919 in Vicenza, near Venice, nowadays Gemmo competes all over the world. Among its most outstanding technological works are Zvartnots International Airport ( Armenia), Malpensa Airport ( Italy), Alexandria Library ( Egypt), Mont Blanc Tunnel, Liège Railway Station ( Belgium), Tripoli Hospital ( Lybia) and many, many more. Gemmo has more than 1300 employees around the world and in 2008 the company registered a turnover of ? 205 million. Gemmo SpA

102 www. bus- ex. com November 09