12:50 PM Wednesday, November 14, 2018 Friday, July 27
Uklon taxi’s into Africa; Solar cools; 44 gas fields for sale; Official Apple store opens this weekend; NBU launches Royal Standard investigation; Azur Air leases new Boeing 767-300’s; No media bias, just the wrong messages.
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The popular Ukrainian taxi service Uklon, a local competitor to Uber, is expanding into Africa, the company has said. Next week, the 8-year-old company will unveil a new corporate identity and logo as they prepare to take their brand global. “Uklon's rebranding is one of the steps on the way to the forthcoming expansion,” the company has said in a statement “We've been thinking about scaling for a long time and a year ago we began to analyse foreign markets and conditions, the technical part was our advantage, and the design needed to be made more simple and clear," the company added. Uklon's move on the African market is ambitious and bold. While Uber and Grab have strongly consolidated their positions in Asia, Europe and the America's, Africa could be ripe for the taking for this young Ukrainian company.

Ukraine's solar energy boom is about to go through a cooling process, a top analyst tells the UBJ. The country's south and south-east has become heavily congested with solar energy projects as developers have scrambled to take advantage of lucrative green tariffs, but the infrastructure and energy grid is struggling to handle the increased output. As solar energy begins to become too hot to handle in the south, some developers are looking to undeveloped greenfield locations in central Ukraine. Norway's Scatec Solar might has just acquired a 51 percent stake in Ukrainian Rengy Development's solar portfolio on the Black Sea coast, but they're now eyeing up to 300MW of new solar projects in central Ukraine. One expert says it's time to move on from solar, however. He says that a number of large energy companies are ready to make their move on the country's largely untapped wind resources. The next green energy gold-rush could well take place on Carpathian hilltops, as opposed to on the sunny coast.

Gas prices for Ukrainians won't change until September 1, the Cabinet of Ministers has said. After that date, prices will almost certainly go up, other sources tell the UBJ. The issue of gas prices is a key debating point in Ukraine's negotiations with the International Monetary Fund at the moment. The IMF has said it won't unlock previously-agreed tranches of funding to the Ukrainian state until gas prices are put up. Negotiations are still ongoing but Acting Finance Minister Oksana Markarova has reported that Ukraine and the IMF are “very close” close to reaching a deal.

The Energy and Coal Industry Ministry must work harder to make state mines profitable enterprises, the Prime Minister has said. He made this point at a government meeting on Thursday, as reported by Ukrinform. “An important issue is Ukrainian coal: the Energy Ministry must finally fulfil its task and make state mines profitable enterprises, instead of constantly plunging miners into poverty," Groysman stressed. According to the Energy and Coal Industry Ministry, the total volume of coal production by state-run coal-mining enterprises has decreased by about 208,000 tons (or 8.8 percent) over the first six months of 2018, compared to the same period last year.

Ukraine is ready to put 44 gas fields, home to 150 billion cubic meters of gas stocks, up for sale, the government has said. “Today we are making a decision to open information about geospatial data and about holding auctions.” the Prime Minister said, opening a government meeting on Wednesday. Our task is to open all the geological information about the deposits and to provide opportunities for Ukrainian and world business on the basis of transparent auctions and extract Ukrainian gas so that we refuse to import it. As soon as we refuse to import gas, we would immediately decisively reduce gas prices, and we would not depend on the global gas price," he added.

The first official Apple Store is coming to Ukraine and is planning to open in Odesa today. Apple's official distributor in Ukraine, Asbis, has said the pilot store will be launched at MegaCitrus before the weekend. The shop will be run by local partners but is officially licensed and controlled by the American tech corporation. Apple specialists have reportedly been developing the design of the store and have provided all the fixtures and fittings so that it's in line with the company's global style and branding.

In South America, Antonov's Mriya AN-225 has so far completed twelve flights from Chile to Boliva as part of a transportation contract for heavy energy machinery. This represents the largest number of consecutive commercial flights in the aircraft's history, Antonov's press service has reported. As part of the operation, twelve gigantic generators for a combined heat and power plant have been brought from Chile to Bolivia, at the request of Hansa Meyer Global Transport & Co. Each Mriya cargo flight delivered machinery and components weighing up to 160 tons. The Mriya AN-225 is the largest and heaviest cargo aircraft in the world and is capable of carrying a total payload of 250 tons.

DLA Piper has advised Pegasus Aviation on the lease of new Boeing passenger aircraft to Azur Air Ukraine, the global law firm has said in a press statement. A number of Boeing 767-300 will be leased to the small Ukrainian airline. Azur Air currently has a tiny fleet of aircraft and a very small number of flights from Kyiv's Borispyl Airport but are reportedly planning to expand their service. “This will enable the operator to increase its number of international flights and expand its geographical reach,” said DLA Piper in their press release.

The National Bank of Ukraine has officially requested that law enforcement agencies investigate the activities of Royal Standard. NBU officials allege that the company is lending and managing deposits without proper licenses and authorisation. Neither the company or the NBU could be reached for comment at the time of publication.

The Cabinet of Ministers has pledged to set up a special inter-agency group to investigate Ukraine's logging industry, days after President Poroshenko controversially vetoed a new law that would place much stricter controls on the sector. “We are making the decision on the creation of a special audit group of inter-agency coordination,” Prime Minister Volodymyr Groysman said, as quoted by the Ukrinform news agency. The PM stressed in an open meeting that there's lots of “interesting information” on timber smuggling, in particular that “many companies were created about a year ago, specifically for this purpose.”

President Poroshenko was criticised for vetoing a new law to tackle the illicit logging trade, but said while he supports a process of strengthening criminal accountability for smugglers he doesn't want to violate commercial agreements with the European Union. Some EU countries, such as Austria, have supported the veto. Earlier this month, an NGO investigation found that billions of dollars worth of illegal timber is flowing into the European Union to be used in the production of everything from paper products to furniture.

If Ukraine gets bad media coverage abroad, it's likely a question of pitching the wrong stories, as opposed to bias against the country. That's the preliminary finding of research carried out by Whites Communication, a British-owned, Ukraine-based PR company. Some top editors of EU newspapers have confirmed in correspondence that western editors are less likely to publish articles about Ukraine if they fear the content isn't relevant to their audiences. Responses show that there isn't a bias against Ukraine and that editors are keen to publish Ukrainian news, but it needs to have an angle that's relevant to their audience. Some editors have showed a degree of confusion over Ukrainian issues and a disconnect from Ukraine's current, national dialogue. One Munich-based editor explained: “Bavaria is a German powerhouse and Germany is the financial powerhouse of the EU, so when Ukraine talks about wanting to join the EU, the first question in Bavaria is 'What is that going to cost us?” The research in part shows that Ukraine needs to do a better job of ensuring the country's messages are of interest and relevance to international audiences. Officials here are already starting to take note. Daniel Bilak, the Chairman of UkraineInvest said: "From our recent round-table with investors in London, it is clear that we need to enhance our engagement with media and keep highlighting the many success stories of foreign companies doing business in Ukraine, particularly in the UK, France and Germany."

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