A.P. Moller-Maersk would increase its investment in Russia if the chance arose, its chief executive said, undeterred by a fall in the value of its Russian ports operator Global Ports.

“Irrespective of the fact the market has been cooling, we continue to be convinced that Russia is a growth economy and that the increase in the middle class will give a basis for continued growth,” Chief Executive Nils Smedegaard Andersen told Reuters in an interview at a major investment conference, the St Petersburg Economic Forum.

APM Terminals in September struck a deal to buy a 37.5 percent stake in Global Ports from N-Trans for $860 million, the largest direct foreign investment in Russia’s transportation sector.

Global Ports’ shares have since fallen 11 percent in a poor few months for many Russian-exposed companies, hit by a worsening outlook for an economy which saw first quarter growth of just 1.6 percent - its slowest since 2009.

Moscow’s dollar-traded RTS stock index for comparison is down 15 percent.

“It is going according to plan,” said Andersen. “It is too early to give a real estimation of the first year, but we have good cooperation with our partner here.”

Under the deal struck last year, APM runs the company on an equal basis with N-Trans, each owning 37.5 percent, with 25 percent being listed in London.

“Given the strong position we have here and the good result so far, we would be very comfortable if there were opportunities coming up to increase our investments,” Andersen said.

Andersen said he would not exclude any of Maersk’s business lines as potential for expansion in Russia. (Reuters)