- London’s High Court has ordered a worldwide freeze of more than $2.5 bn of assets of Ukrainian oligarchs Igor Kolomoisky and Gennady Bogolyubov. The court ruled in favor of PrivatBank, the country’s largest commercial lender, which was nationalized last year to avoid its financial collapse. The freeze was granted “on the basis of detailed evidence put to the court that Messrs Kolomoisky and Bogolyubov extracted almost $2bn from the bank.” Speaking to TSN.ua, a news website he owns, Kolomoisky minimized the ruling, saying: “This is a temporary arrest during the trial of the case in court.” According to the National Bank of Ukraine, the former owners and managers of PrivatBank have filed more than 400 lawsuits in Ukrainian and British courts challenging the nationalization. Concorde Capital’s Alexander Paraschiy writes: “This is a good start for the Ukrainian government, but it still has a long journey to prove that Kolomoiskyi and Bogolyubov extracted money from the bank bypassing Ukrainian laws.”
- Finance Minister Oleksandr Danilyuk accuses the Prosecutor General's Office of hindering an investigation into actions by former managers and owners of PrivatBank. Citing five cases presented earlier this year to the Prosecutor General, he said: “None of these cases have been submitted to the court for consideration, as pre-trial investigations in these industries are progressing very slowly, and in some cases, investigative actions are not conducted at all.” He noted an “accidental meeting in Amsterdam of Yuriy Lutsenko with I. Kolomoysky, just on the eve of the trial in London, raises even more questions." Danilyuk told reporters Thursday: "I demand the resignation of Prosecutor General Yuriy Lutsenko.”
- Real, post-inflation salaries of Ukrainians are 19% higher than last year, Economic Development and Trade Minister Stepan Kubiv, told reporters Thursday, citing figures through October. At the same press conference, his deputy minister, Mykhailo Titarchuk, forecast that 2017 will close with inflation at 13.4% . Separately, Prime Minister Groysman predicts that real, average salaries will increase by 35% next year.
- Ukraine is preparing international tenders for three oil and gas projects for production sharing agreements, Energy and Coal Industry Minister Ihor Nasalyk, told reporters Thursday. The projects are expected to require investments from $200 to 600 million. He said: "We expect that companies with medium and high level of technologies will enter the Ukrainian market."
- Coal production is down 13.6% through November, the Ministry of Energy and Coal Industry reports. Of the 5.5 million ton drop, the biggest drops were in Donetsk region - 26.4% - and in Luhansk – down 62.7%. In March, DTEK announced loss of control over all its enterprises in the separatist-controlled portion of the Donbas, notably Sverdlovanthracite, Rovenkyantratsit and Komsomolets Donbassa. Before the armed conflict, these three coal companies were producing a total of about 18 million tons of coal annually, Interfax reports.
- The EBRD is loaning EUR 25 million to convert chicken excrement into biogas, or methane, at a Vinnytsia plant of Myronivsky Hliboproduct, Ukraine's biggest chicken meat producer, MHP CEO Yuriy Kosyuk writes on Facebook. With a capacity of up to 20 MW, this will be MHP's second biogas plant. The first was launched in 2013 in Dnipropetrovsk region. According to the Ukraine Bioenergy Association, Ukraine, a major food power, has the potential to produce 9.5 billion cubic meters of biogas per year from agricultural and food waste. This is the equivalent to 2.6 billion cubic meters of natural gas, almost 10% of current national gas consumption.
- Ukraine's exports to Canada in 2017 are increasing by 76%, and imports - by 93%, Foreign Minister Pavel Klimkin said Thursday at a joint press conference in Kyiv with Canada's Foreign Minister Chrystia Freeland. A Canada-Ukraine free trade pact went into effect last August.
- Nordic countries will loan EUR30 million to increase energy efficiency at Ukrainian universities through 2022. The loan by Northern Environmental Finance Corporation, or NEFCO, will cover almost 20% of the program to modernize university buildings in Chernihiv, Kharkiv, Kyiv, Lviv, Poltava, Sumy, Kharkov and Vinnytsia.
- Ukraine is doubling funds for film production in 2018, Prime Minister Groysman writes on Facebook. He wrote: “This means that Ukrainian children and adults will see more high-quality domestic movies and animation.” As an example, he noted “The Stolen Princess: Ruslan and Lyudmila” animation feature will be released in the spring.
- Cyborgs goes into the Christmas season as Ukraine’s strongest film, earning $303,000 in its first weekend. About half of its $1.7 million budget came from the national budget. This war drama follows a Ukrainian unit doggedly defending Donetsk airport from assaults by mixed Russian-separatist troops in the winter of 2014-2015.
- Uber is opening in Kyiv its regional headquarters for Central and Eastern Europe, Alexey Stach, regional general manager, told reporters Wednesday. He said: "All employees of the company from the countries of Central and Eastern Europe will move to Kyiv and will work here.” Focusing on regional development, Stach plans to double staff in 2018 at the new Uber headquarters, at 9 Naberezhne Highway, in Podil. Launched last year in Odesa, Lviv, Dnipro, Kharkiv, Vinnytsia, and Zaporizhia, Uber gradually raised rates five times in the capital. Stach said there had not been a dropoff in users. In time for holiday travel, Uber launches this week a new service, uberVAN, with vehicles capable of carrying six passengers.
- US-based Marriott International Int. will open its second hotel in Kyiv on Feb. 15. Aloft Kiev, a 310-room hotel, stands at Esplanadna 17, next to the Olimpiskiy Sports Complex. Under its Design brand, Marriot also has 11 Mirrors hotel in Kyiv.
- Ukraine’s air traffic control agency is starting to invest again in new equipment, ending a spending freeze imposed after the July 2014 shoot down of the Malaysian Airlines flight over eastern Ukraine. That event prompted a 55-60% drop in overflights and a 70% drop in revenue, Dmytro Babeichuk, director of the agency, UkSATSE, told Interfax. Now, $24 million dollars in equipment upgrades are scheduled, with about $5 million coming from European Bank for Reconstruction and Development and the European Investment Bank.
- Ukraine's shortest commercial flight – between Kyiv and Vinnytsia -- will be launched March 25, avianews reports. Ukrainian International Airlines will use an Embraer 145 regional jet to fly twice a day from Vinnytsia to the airline’s Boryspil hub. A one-way ticket for the 200 km flight will be about $50.
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UBJ a.m. is reported by UBJ Editor in Chief James Brooke, a former New York Times foreign correspondent and Bloomberg Moscow bureau chief. For comments and story tips, Brooke is reachable at email@example.com