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We present a method for learning representations of entities, that uses a Transformer-based architecture as an entity encoder, and link prediction training on a knowledge graph with textual entity descriptions. We demonstrate that our approach can be applied effectively for link prediction in different inductive settings involving entities not seen during training, outperforming related state-of-the-art methods (22% MRR improvement on average). We provide evidence that the learned representations transfer to other tasks that do not require fine-tuning the entity encoder. In an entity classification task we obtain an average improvement of 16% accuracy compared with baselines that also employ pre-trained models. For an information retrieval task, significant improvements of up to 8.8% in NDCG@10 were obtained for natural language queries.