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  • After Naftogaz, Reformers Worry About Politicians and State Companies
  • Kobolyev Hands Over Office Keys to Avoid ‘Circus’
  • Next Down: Mustafa Nayem
  • America’s Bechtel, Australia’s Volt Come to Ukraine
  • Lviv Has Ukraine’s Highest Salaries

 

The legal maneuver used to fire the CEO of Naftogaz raises doubts about Ukraine’s commitment to shield state companies from interference by politicians. That was the fear expressed by a host of Ukraine-watchers: the State Department spokesman in Washington, the G7 Ambassadors in Kyiv, the speaker of the Rada, and the American Chamber of Commerce in Ukraine. To fire Andriy Kobolyev one year into his 4-year term, the Cabinet of Ministers resorted to suspending the Naftogaz Supervisory Board for two days, and then switching Kobolyev for his former deputy, Yuriy Vitrenko.

Few complaints were aired about Vitrenko, widely seen as Western-oriented reformer.

Concorde Capital’s Alexander Paraschiy wrote: “Vitrenko could be at least as efficient at the position of Naftogaz CEO as Kobolyev was, so there is no risk to Naftogaz operations with the top management replacement.”

Critics target what they see as Ukraine’s faltering commitment to running state companies on corporate lines. “Dismissal of Naftogaz CEO raises doubts over Ukraine’s corporate governance reforms,” headlines an Atlantic Council blog by Aura Sabadus, a regional expert on the energy industry.


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Dragon Capital wrote in a note: This breach of corporate-governance standards is likely to create a new point of tensions with international financial institutions and Ukraine’s other Western partners…Naftogaz is set to experience a turbulent period, as the new CEO is likely to move to rid the management team of Kobolyev allies.”

Firing by the Cabinet “contradicts the requirements of Ukrainian law,” reads a letter signed by members of the Naftogaz Supervisory Board. Noting that the Board has power over personnel decisions, the letter charges that the Cabinet’s move “seriously jeopardizes the business continuity of the Naftogaz Group, as well as the implementation of the corporate governance reform in the public sector of Ukraine’s economy.” Written during the Board’s 2-day suspension, the letter is signed by Clare Spottiswoode as “Ex-Chair of the Supervisory Board.”

“I do not think that the decision of the Cabinet of Ministers was legitimate,” Kobolyev told Interfax Ukraine. “I believe that this decision puts an end to corporate reform. It is important not only for Naftogaz or for me personally, it is important for the entire corporate governance system that has been built over the past seven years.” In a Facebook post, Kobolyev said he left his office keys for Vitrenko to avoid “a circus” but intimated that he plans to appeal his dismissal.

The Rada moved forward, appointing Herman Halushchenko as Energy Minister, succeeding Vitrenko, who had held the job in an acting capacity for four months. For the last year, Halushchenko served as vice president of Energoatom, Ukraine’s state nuclear power company.

President Zelenskiy signed a law allowing resumption of sales of large state companies, a privatization process that was suspended one year ago due to the coronavirus pandemic. All sales are to go through electronic auctions. Zelenskiy said: ““Despite the coronavirus crisis, our goal of privatizing state-owned enterprises, which are often managed extremely inefficient and breeding grounds for corruption, remains unchanged.”

Ukoroboronprom, the defense industry conglomerate, has reorganized its structure to eliminate Mustafa Nayem, the reformer who worked for two years as Deputy General Director for Asset Management. “Today is my last day at Ukroboronprom,” Nayem wrote on Facebook. Of his work, he wrote: “Our team has moved the company closer to corporatization than anyone before us. We completed the inventory of all property, increased revenues from the sale of non-core assets by almost one third, tripled the processing of applications for property transactions, and transferred 17 companies to the State Property Fund.”

This spring’s cool, wet weather will boost grain harvests by 14.5% and exports by 28%, the Ukrainian Grain Association predicted. In reality, this would return Ukraine to the bumper year of 2019/2020. Looking ahead, corn exports are to jump 27% in the coming marketing year, to 30 million tons. Wheat exports are to increase by 37%, to 21 million tons. The sunflower harvest is to increase by 28%, to 16.5 million tons, slightly more than the 2019/2020 level.

Ukraine increased its exports to China during the first two months of this year by 44% yoy, Taras Kachka, Ukraine’s Trade Representative, said after meeting with China’s ambassador Fan Xiangong. Overall, Ukraine’s trade rose 18%, to $2.5 billion, with China, the nation’s largest trading partner. One focus of the meeting was to expand the access of Ukrainian food product to the Chinese market. Food accounts for 53% of Ukraine’s exports to China, reports Ukraine’s Economy Ministry.

Executives from Bechtel, the largest American construction company, were briefed by Infrastructure Minister Vladyslav Krikliy about public private partnerships to build highways in Ukraine. “We plan to attract in the medium term more than $9 billion in private investment to restore and maintain more than 4,500 kilometers of state roads,” Krikliy said of the program developed by the World Bank and Ukravtodor, the highway agency. Attending for Bechtel were: Justin Sieberell, regional president for Europe and Middle East, and Andrew Patterson, global manager for business development.

Australia’s Volt Resources Limited is paying $7.6 million to buy control of Ukraine’s Zavalivsky Graphite LLC, one of the 10 largest producers of natural graphite in the world. Volt says it is buying 70% of the company to become a producer of graphite for li-ion batteries. With a production capacity of 30,000 tons a year, Zavalivsky Graphite has been mining the deposit in Kirovohrad since 1934.

With Russia’s Rosneft cutting diesel supplies to Ukraine, traders plan to increase diesel imports in May from Belarus, Lithuania, Hungary and Turkey, Ukraine’s Economy Ministry reports after meeting with “key stakeholders of the oil and gas market.” Last week, two companies won tenders to supply diesel to Ukrzaliznytsia. In addition to using diesel to power half of its locomotives, the state railroad has 1,300 tanker cars, enough to move about one third of Ukraine’s annual imports of 7 million tons.

Lviv has the highest average salary in Ukraine, the hryvnia equivalent of $1,130 a month, according to a survey of Ukraine’s largest cities by grc.ua, a personnel portal. Lviv presumably edged out Kyiv, the traditional leader, due to the high concentration of IT jobs and wage competition with nearby Poland. Of the five cities, the lowest average monthly wage was in Dnipro – $692.

Passenger traffic was down by one third during the first quarter, compared to January-March of 2020, the State Statistics Service reports. The number of rides taken by passengers was down 30.5%, to 624 million. The number of passenger kilometers was down 35%, to 12.3 billion.

 

 

  • Coup d’Etat at Naftogaz: Kobolyev Out, Vitrenko In
  • Cabinet Bypasses Board
  • Nuclear Exec to be Energy Minister?
  • Kyiv Lifted Corona Lockdown

 

Yuriy Vitrenko started work last week as the new CEO of Naftogaz, reported the government portal. The Cabinet of Ministers fired Andriy Kobolyev, a 20-year company veteran, who had held the CEO post since March 2014. Kobolyev is credited with cutting corruption, but criticized for failing to increase gas production. His downfall came after news of last year’s disastrous results – the loss of $685 million, the first loss since 2015.

To fire Kobolyev, the Cabinet of Ministers suspended the Supervisory Board for two days, the body charged with personnel decisions. Tomorrow a search is to start for new Board members. Vitrenko, the former number two at Naftogaz, has won a 1-year contract. Since December, he has served as Acting Energy Minister.

The Rada is to meet to vote on the candidacy of Herman Halushchenko for the post of Energy Minister. Supported by the Rada Energy Committee, Halushchenko, is Vice President of Energoatom, the state company that runs Ukraine’s four nuclear power plants. Nuclear supplies half of Ukraine’s electricity.

Defenders of Kobolyev noted that despite last year’s loss, the company paid $5 billion in taxes – 17% of Ukraine’s tax receipts. Kobolyev leaves Naftogaz with $2 billion in cash on hand, a war chest to buy gas for the winter.

Objections swirl over the legal maneuver used to bypass the Board and fire an executive who was one year into a four-year contract.This violates the charter of Naftogaz and violates our obligations, in particular, to the IMF to ensure the independence of Naftogaz,” said Inna Sovsun, a Rada Energy Committee member from the pro-Western Holos party, on the party’s website. A major demand of Ukraine’s pro-Western reformers is the installation of independent boards to control state companies.

The dismissal of Kobolyev “is legal manipulation” and “demonstrates a return to practice manual management of state enterprises,” reads a defiant statement posted by the company’s outgoing management on the Naftogaz Group Facebook page. The change at the top comes as Naftogaz was planning to issue a Eurobond. In this light, the manifesto, posted also on the company’s website declares: “This is clear signal to investors in securities of Ukrainian issuers: the working conditions of state enterprises of Ukraine are unpredictable and can be changed depending on political expediency.”

“Dismissed. Reappointed. Andriy gone. $2bn cash reserves in company,” one foreign member of the Supervisory Board emailed the UBN last night. “Prospect of developing serious new gas basin in Black Sea and others and were going to raise a bond issue next week – killed. As are longer term plans to transform Ukrainian gas reserves. What are they playing at? Perfect gift to Russians. Incomprehensible.”

Kobolyev made no public comment about his dramatic fall. Vitrenko, his former deputy, said the CEO switch is a “logical” response to “inefficient management of Naftogaz Ukrainy.” “The state must be an active owner,” he said in an interview last night with Interfax Ukraine. “The Cabinet of Ministers has the right and obligation to respond to problems in the company…When you submit a financial plan and promise something, and, then, instead of the planned 11 billion UAH [$400 million] of profit, you receive 19 billion UAH {$685 million] of loss, it leads to the fact that your owner reacts.”

Naftogaz Group has cut its capital expenditures by 44.5% last year, to $54 million, from $99 million. The biggest area, exploration and production, fell by 26%, to $39 million. Oil and gas production by Naftogaz, the nation’s largest producer, has been stagnant for the last several years.

PricewaterhouseCoopers was won the contract, which is valued close to $2 million to audit the Naftogaz Group’s financial statements for 2021 and 2022, the state company has reported. The Cabinet of Ministers made the choice after reviewing results of a ProZorro competition. In addition to auditing the accounts of nearly 30 companies of the Group, PWC is review financial statements to support the issuance of Eurobonds.

In one year, a Hague tribunal is expected to rule on Naftogaz Group’s $9 billion claim against Russia for property seized during the March 2014 annexation of Crimea. Russia seized Chornomornaftogaz, a Simferopol-based unit of Naftogaz that owned about $2 billion worth of offshore drilling platforms and jack up rigs in the Black Sea. This June, Naftogaz is to argue the amount of compensation in an oral hearing at the Permanent Court of Arbitration in The Hague. A ruling is expected one year later.

In a different kind of complaint about a Ukrainian state company Supervisory Board, Richard Deitz, President of London-based VR Capital Group, charges that the Ukrzaliznytsia board has failed to act decisively to negotiate a deal for debt obligations VR bought two years ago from Prominvestbank. Last week, Ukraine’s Supreme Court confirmed UZ’s obligation in four cases. Instead of settling the debt at a discount in 2019, UZ is running up interest and penalties, pushing the total owed over $100 million. “The amount keeps going up,” Deitz tells the UBN of the 14 cases. “The real issue is the failure of corporate government governance. The management board and the supervisory board did not do what they are supposed to do. The loser is the taxpayer in Ukraine.”

Kyiv lifted its strict lockdown Saturday, opening the Metro to all riders, allowing indoor restaurant dining, and opening shopping centers, gyms and open-air markets. The opening comes in time for Orthodox Easter. In theory, Kyiv schools open Wednesday, but in reality most reopen on Tuesday May 11.

The opening comes as Kyiv still records about 1,000 new coronavirus cases a day, Mayor Klitschko reports. Among the reported cases, 40% are men and 60% are women. On a national scale, 9,590 new cases were reported yesterday, half the level of the peaks in early April.

Officially, there have been 2 million cases of coronavirus in Ukraine over the last year. However, in a UNICEF survey of 2,027 Ukrainian adults interviewed by cell phone in April, 22% of respondents said they had fallen sick with coronavirus. If this percentage is applied to Ukraine’s adult population of 30 million, it indicates that around 6 million Ukrainians have had coronavirus.

 

 

  • Naftogaz Financial Big Losses
  • Ukrainians Bought Dollars During Russian Standoff
  • Blinken to Visit to Kyiv

 

Naftogaz veered from a $93 million profit in 2019 to a $685 million loss in 2020, the state oil and gas company reported. Naftogaz CEO Andriy Kobolev said the company turned a net profit during the first quarter of this year. “The company bottomed out and started generating profit” declining to go into details. He said the company might seek to place a Eurobond, noting: “We now believe that the borrowing market for Naftogaz is very positive and attractive.”

Naftogaz blamed the 2020 loss on several factors: writing off $830 million in long overdue debts with private gas distributors; the 2019 ‘unbundling’ that shifted revenues from Russian gas transit outside the Naftogaz group; and “record low prices” of gas. In December 2019, Naftogaz made a wrong way bet on European natural gas prices, which then plummeted by almost two thirds in the first quarter of 2020, to the lowest level in a decade. In April, Andriy Favorov, the company’s director of gas sales, was fired.

Analysts are welcoming Ukraine’s placement of a $1.25 billion 8-year Eurobond at 6.875%.

Adamant Capital wrote: The placement occurred with a small (10-20bps) yield premium to the market, suggesting that it was well received, despite the apparent delays in the state’s program with the IMF. The timing suggests that the book runners were able to make use of a wave of optimism that followed Russia’s decision to pull back the troops.”

Concorde Capital’s Alexander Paraschiy wrote that the new issue “looks like a success.” He added: “It is too naive to expect Ukraine would be able to get more than one IMF tranche this year. Therefore, the Ministry of Finance’s reliance on such financing looks too optimistic, and most likely it will have to continue issuing market bonds this year.”

The Finance Ministry raised the equivalent of $370 million at its weekly auction, the Ministry reported on its Facebook page. Yields in hryvnia reflect the Central Bank’s increase in the nation’s prime rate to 7.5%. The yields were: 6-month – 9%; 1-year – 11.2%; 1.5 year – 11.3%; 2-year – 11.96%; 3-year – 12.28%. In the foreign currency placements, the Ministry sold $21 million worth of 1-year dollar bonds at 3.7% and €42 million worth of 1-year euro bonds at 2.5%.

Two Citibank strategists recommend investors buy Ukraine’s GDP warrants, saying they could rise from 105.5c today, to 125c. In a note to investors Luis Costa and Dumitru Vicol wrote: “Mounting fiscal pressures to finance the planned 5.5%/GDP deficit for 2021 are likely to push the government to deliver the promised institutional reforms.”

Demand for dollars hit a 4-year high during the recent military standoff between Russia and Ukraine, Bohdan Danylyshyn, chairman of the National Bank of Ukraine, announced on the banks Facebook page. Since the start of April, Ukrainians bought $422 million more dollars than they sold, according to Central Bank figures. By comparison, the figure in March was $182 million. After Russia’s Defense Minister promised to withdraw troops from positions near Ukraine, the hryvnia strengthened against the dollar by 0.5%.

US Secretary of State Antony Blinken will travel to Kyiv in May as part of preparations for a Biden-Putin summit this summer, CNN has reported, citing a Ukrainian government official. Blinken has already spoken to his Ukrainian counterpart, Dmytro Kuleba, several times since taking office in January, including two weeks ago in Brussels. “A proper Ukraine strategy needs two parts,” Daniel Fried, who served as US Ambassador to Poland in the late 1990s, told CNN. “One arm around their shoulder to help them resist aggression from the Kremlin and a foot on their back to get them to fix things at home, so that Ukraine is not simply a corrupt state vulnerable to that Russian aggression.”

Ukraine will supply gas turbine engines for Turkey’s new ATAK-II combat helicopters, reported the Ukrainian Military Portal. The 11-ton helicopters will be twice as large as current attack helicopters now produced by Turkey. Temel Kotil, General Director of Turkish Aerospace Industries, confirmed the contract signing.

After the lockdown in Turkey, Pegasus Airlines start services on May 27 from Kyiv Boryspil to Gazipasa, an Antalya province city facing Cyprus. On that same day, SkyUp will commence services flights from Kyiv to Izmir and expands service from Kharkiv and Zaporizhia to Istanbul.

Zakarpattia’s new airport will be located outside of Mukachevo, the region’s second largest city, announced Kyrylo Khomyakov, the Head of the Ukrinfraproject, on Facebook. Zakarpattia’s current airport, outside of Uzhgorod, has proven unviable because the runway ends at the national border with Slovakia. A search committee recently abandoned a site at Seredenje, midway on the 40 km highway between the two cities. Local businessmen had snapped up land to resell at high prices. Mukachevo, a city of 85,000, is already a transportation hub, served by trains from Hungary and Slovakia on European gauge tracks and trains from Lviv on broad gauge tracks.

Zakarpattia’s new airport is to cost almost $150 million to build and is to be completed by the summer of 2024. This will be the end of President Zelenskiy’s current term. A priority for the government’s ‘Big Construction’ program, the airport is to have two 2,800-meter runways capable of handling A320 and B737 jets and a privately built terminal capable of handling 1 million passengers a year. This year’s state budget has allotted $1 million for the airport design. Coupled with large scale road paving and reconstruction in Zakarpattia, the airport will boost Ukraine’s Carpathian Mountains as an international tourist destination, says the regional government.

To boost domestic air travel, the Cabinet of Ministers is drawing up a bill to abolish VAT taxes on internal air tickets, Prime Minister Shmygal wrote on Facebook. He said: “This will support airlines during the crisis, as well as promote the development of tourism potential of our country.” Noting that the measure has the support of the Ministers of Economy, Finance and Infrastructure, he said: “These legislative changes must be made as soon as possible in order to increase the tourist flow this summer.”

Betting on the tax break and that on EU Covid curbs making for another summer of Ukrainian domestic tourism, Windrose recently unveiled its summer schedule. Starting June 1, it will fly from its Kyiv Boryspil hub to 12 Ukrainian cities. On May 17, Windrose restores flights between Kyiv and Mykolaiv.

Other airlines are breathing new life into Ukraine’s domestic airports:

At the end of May, SkyUp starts flights to Odesa from Kharkiv, Lviv, Zaporizhia and Kyiv Boryspil. Also this month, SkyUp plans to start flights to Istanbul and Larnaca, Cyprus from Kharkiv, Lviv, Odesa, Zaporizhia and Kyiv. SkyUp says that half of its flights this summer will be from Ukraine’s regional airports.

Bees Airline, Ukraine’s 10-week-old budget airline, won permission to fly from Kyiv Sikorsky to Kherson, Lviv and Odesa. The State Aviation Service also has permitted Bees to commence services from Kherson to Tbilisi and to Antalya, Turkey.

 

 

  • Ukraine Places €1.25 Billion Eurobonds at Low Rates
  • Gas Traders Brush off Geopolitical Risk
  • Foreign Donors Spend €2.5 billion to Seal Chornobyl
  • Cold, Wet Spring Means Good Harvests

 

Enjoying a peace window, Ukraine placed 8-year Eurobonds worth $1.25 billion at 6.875% per annum – the lowest yield of the government’s 11 outstanding Eurobonds, reported Bloomberg. The benchmark was 7-7.25%, but demand was almost three times supply, pushing down the final interest rate, reports Interfax.ru.

ICU wrote, referring to the government hryvnia bond market: “There has been very important improvement in market sentiment after the risk of escalating hostilities in the east of Ukraine declined, with immediate increase in Eurobonds’ and VRIs’ prices.”

J.P. Morgan has predicted that Ukraine’s GDP will grow by 5.6% this year, said the bank in its April commentary. This is higher than Ukraine’s Central Bank, which lowered its forecast last week to 3.8%. The Economy Ministry came out last week with a ‘consensus forecast’ of 4.1%. J.P. Morgan bases its optimism on EU and global growth in the second half, and on a rebuilding of inventories and a jump in investment in Ukraine. The bank also has predicted that IMF money will flow again to Ukraine in August-September.

“Ukrainian gas storage injections hinge on price, not geopolitical risk – traders,” wrote the ICIS energy news site on the impact of the Russian military threat to eastern Ukraine. “European gas companies will consider storing gas in Ukraine depending on summer-winter spreads irrespective of the evolution of the Ukrainian-Russian military tensions,” read the analysis. With today’s summer-winter price gap 85% lower than last year, traders said they did not see much incentive to store gas. One trader noted that the bulk of Ukraine’s 12 underground storage areas – largely depleted gas fields – are in Western Ukraine.

Foreign companies own almost one third of the 15.4 billion cubic meters stored in Ukraine – up from zero two years ago, reported Sergii Pereloma, the Head of the UGS storage unit of Ukrtransgaz. The number of foreign customers has doubled and now includes companies based in UAE, Singapore, and Hong Kong. Key attractions for international investors are: duty free import and exports for three years, reasonable warehouse rates, and transparent procedures.

With Russia withdrawing troops, but leaving tanks and ships, Ukraine has asked Germany for anti-ship missiles and old corvettes, Germany’s dw.com news site reported. Separately, the Rada committees on defense, infrastructure and foreign relations want to hold hearings on a deal with Turkey to buy four Ada class corvettes. Ukrainian Navy officers fear the project will eat up a large part of the budget of Navy and that the corvettes will be easy targets for Russian anti-ship missiles.

Cargo tonnage handled by Ukraine’s seaports dropped by 20.5% during the first quarter, compared to January-March 2020, Ports of Ukraine has reported. The drop to 32.6 million tons is largely blamed on last year’s weak grain harvest. Reflecting the larger size of ships docking at Ukrainian ports, the number of vessels handled fell by 16.1% yoy, to 2,341.

UIA lost $161 million last year, a sharp reversal from $60 million profit in 2019, the company reported to the National Securities and Stock Market Commission in advance of the airline’s May 28 2021 shareholders meeting. Accounts receivable almost doubled, to $80 million. UIA says it refunded passengers $26.5 million for unused tickets between April 2020 and January 2021.

On the 35th anniversary of the Chornobyl nuclear fire, President Zelenskiy last week inaugurated a €448 million nuclear waste repository. Located near the shuttered nuclear power plant, the unit is “the largest dry spent fuel storage facility in the world” according to the EBRD which coordinated donation from OECD countries. Designed to last 100 years, the facility is to package in double-walled canisters and store in concrete the 21,000 spent fuel assemblies of Chornobyl reactors 1, 2 and 3.

The repository comes after international donors spent €2 billion to build the new sarcophagus that entombs the highly contaminated remains of reactor 4. Rafael Mariano Grossi, Director General of the International Atomic Energy Agency, said on Twitter that his agency “will continue working tirelessly in addressing decommissioning, radioactive waste and environmental remediation related with Chernobyl accident.”

In a new project, six companies are bidding in an international tending build a facility to store Ukraine’s vitrified radioactive waste that is currently stored in Russia. The tender should be held in May and the facility should be built by 2023, said Serhiy Kostyuk, head of the State Agency for Exclusion Zone Management, (Ukrinform).

Germany’s Zeppelin, Ukraine’s only official Caterpillar dealer, is investing €10 million in new head office and service center in Vyshneve, a suburb of Kyiv oblast located 3 km southwest of the ring road. Under the guidance of Delta, an Austrian architectural firm, official construction started last week. Zeppelin Ukraine has 12 branches with over 600 employees and celebrates this year its 25th anniversary in Ukraine. Heiko Kreisel, General Director at TOV Zeppelin Ukraine mentioned on the groundbreaking ceremony on 25th of April 2021, “Our vision, which had and shall guide us in this construction project is driven by our deep aspiration to create a modern head offices and service center for all our employees, which promotes the highest possible collaboration between all employees through application of latest office designs and technology (e.g. digitalization) and a sustainability claim, which starts with a paperless office and goes beyond CO2 neutrality.”

Denmark is targeting Ukraine for a ‘nearshoring’ initiative – bringing factories and outsourcing work closer to home, to Eastern Europe. The move is prompted partly by the Covid epidemic reducing the mobility of Ukrainian workers and restricting Danish managers from flying to China.  In a first step, Antonina Leth Moeller, a Ukrainian business woman living in Denmark, recently opened the Ukrainian Danish Chamber of Commerce, with a bilingual Danish-Ukrainian website.

The snow and frost that hit central Ukraine during the nights last week will not harm harvests, said Tetyana Adamanko, the Head of Agrometeorology at the Hydrometeorological Center at a farm associations meeting. Due to the late spring, seedlings can easily withstand the air temperatures that fell to -3C, she said, (Ukrinform). By contrast, the wet cool spring has resulted in one of the best moisture penetrations of the soil in 20 years. Ukrinform concludes: “The situation with winter cereals looks extremely optimistic.”

As temperatures increase, solar and wind electricity production increase, but electricity consumption decreases, warned Ukrenergo. During the week of April 5-11, renewable production increased by 17% to 227 million kW, but electricity consumption decreased by 1%, to 2.86 billion kWh. Going into the high production season for renewables, Ukrenergo’s Guaranteed Buyer owes an estimated $750 million to solar and wind power producers.

DTEK is preparing to commission Ukraine’s first industrial energy storage system, reported Emanuele Volpe, innovation director of the power company. Located in Energodar, next to the Zaporizhia thermal power plant, the storage unit has a capacity of 1 MW and a capacity of 2.25 MW-year. Designed for the accumulation, storage and delivery of electricity to the grid, such systems could help smooth the peaks and lows of renewable production. The US company, Honeywell, supplied the lithium-ion energy storage system. A Canadian company, Sungrid, was a key contractor.

 

 

  • Privatization Goal: $430 million in 2021
  • China-EU Rail Freight to Triple by 2030
  • Chernobyl: UNESCO World Heritage Site?

 

Romania and Ukraine are ready to start a ‘strategic relationship,’ Ukraine’s Foreign Minister Dmytro Kuleba said after meeting his Romanian counterpart, Bogdan Aurescu, in Bucharest. “Ukraine seeks to officially start a strategic partnership with Romania,” Kuleba said. “This means a special relationship between our states. Aurescu and I agreed to make this a reality.” Kuleba said the two Black Sea neighbors will open more border checkpoints and facilitate more cooperation in natural gas. Romania will send a military unit to march in Ukraine’s Independence Day parade on Aug. 24.

YouTube has blocked three pro-Russian channels that President Zelenskiy shut down three months ago. After Zelenskiy ordered the channels off the air, and sanctioned their reputed owner Viktor Medvedchuk, the channels – 112 Ukraine, NewsOne and ZIK – reappeared on YouTube. As of last Sunday, YouTube had not blocked Pershy Nezalezhny, or The First Independent, a new channel started by staff of the three blocked channels.

Odesa’s 12-story Victoria Hotel will be put up for auction by the Deposit Guarantee Fund. Located a 10-minute walk from Arcadia beach, this Black Sea hotel has 229 rooms. The starting price is $7 million. The hotel is one of 862 assets that the Fund will be selling as it liquidates Misto Bank. This Odesa bank was declared insolvent in December 2020.

Ukraine’s goal of quadrupling revenues from the sale of state companies this year “is entirely realistic,” wrote Dmytro Sennychenko, the Head of the State Property Fund, in an Atlantic Council blog: “Ukraine moves closer to large-scale privatization breakthrough.” The $430 million goal will be met through the sale of “blue chip assets:” United Mining and Chemical Company, the President Hotel and six regional power distribution companies, or oblenergos. Sixteen companies – “mostly from abroad” – are interested in United Mining and Chemical, which mines titanium-zircon deposits and produces rutile, ilmenite and zircon concentrate.

The 17 state defense enterprises transferred to the State Property Fund two weeks ago are “the remnants of property that has been torn apart, plundered,” said Yuriy Husev, Director General of Ukroboronprom, the defense production conglomerate, in an online forum last week.  With names like the Ivano-Frankivsk Boiler and Welding Plant, the Transcarpathian Helicopter Production Association and the Lviv Research Radio Engineering Institute, these defunct Soviet-era companies might end up being sold for their real estate. By shedding these companies, Ukroboronprom now controls 97 companies.

Korrespondent magazine has ranked Ukraine’s five most valuable brands: Kyivstar (mobile) – $225 million; Rozetka (e-commerce) – $210 million; Darnitsa (pharmaceuticals) – $187 million; Morshynska (water) – $173.25 million; Nova Poshta (delivery) – $170 million. “Trust is almost a key component of a brand, and therefore, its value,” the magazine writes, referring to its annual survey. “The greatest growth in the value of brands was demonstrated by the three leaders – Kyivstar, Rozetka and the pharmaceutical company Darnitsa.”

China-EU rail container traffic could triple by the end of this decade, has predicted Eurasian Corridors, a new study carried out by Roland Berger, the Munich-based consulting company. Based on a 2020 figure of 878,000 containers, traffic could double by 2025, according to the study, which was commissioned by the International Union of Railways. Ukrzaliznytsia is working to handle more China traffic destined for Central and Southern Europe.

By June 1, the EU plans to implement a uniform vaccination certificate that will allow free movement by EU citizens within the bloc. “We can guarantee that the system will be operational by the summer season,” EU Commissioner for the Internal Market Thierry Breton said. Available in paper or digital form, it will certify that a person has been vaccinated against COVID-19, tested negative, or recovered from an infection. A QR code will ensure that certificates can be read through the 27 countries of the EU. The European Parliament is expected to vote on the measure this week.

35 years after a nuclear fire destroyed a reactor at Chernobyl, Ukraine is seeking to have the nuclear power plant and the surrounding exclusion zone declared a UNESCO World Heritage site. As a first step, the government is moving to have the site – and a neighboring Soviet era radar – declared a national monument. “The importance of the Chernobyl zone lays far beyond Ukraine’s borders,” Culture Minister Oleksandr Tkachenko told Reuters. “It is not only about commemoration, but also history and people’s rights.” Boosted by the HBO Chernobyl series, tourism doubled in 2019, to 120,000 visitors to the site.

 

 

Upcoming events:

JCC Ukraine Chapter Webinar

“Ukraine’s Infrastructure: New Opportunities”

May 25, 2021 (14:00-15:00 CET)

Speaker: Volodymyr Yaremko, Councel, FCI Arb, SAYENKO KHARENKO

Moderation: Sven Henniger, Partner, Henniger Winkelmann Consulting

Weitere Informationen und Anmeldung unter:

https://www.jointchambers.ch/jcc-events/jcc-ukraine-chapter-webinar-269.html

 

JCC Ukraine Chapter Webinar

“Ukraine’s Agribusiness: New Opportunities”

June 17, 2021 (14:00-15:00 CET)

Speaker: Gebhard Rogenhofer, Wurzelwerk GR GmbH

Moderation: Sven Henniger, Partner, Henniger Winkelmann Consulting

Weitere Informationen und Anmeldung unter:

https://www.jointchambers.ch/jcc-events/jcc-ukraine-chapter-webinar-250.html

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