- Sergei Tigipko, a prominent Ukrainian businessman and politician, has bought VS Bank, one of Sberbank’s two subsidiaries in Ukraine. Tigipko plans to combine the bank with his own TASKombank without closing branches. Last March, after nationalist attacks on Russian banks, President Poroshenko imposed sanctions on VS and four other Ukrainian banks with Russian capital. Herman Graf, CEO of Sberbank, Russia’s largest bank, says he hopes his bank’s second subsidiary, Sberbank of Ukraine, also will be sold soon.
- Alexander Yaroslavsky, the Kharkiv-based owner of DCH, applied Friday to buy Prominvestbank, the Ukraine subsidiary of Russia’s Vnesheconombank, according to Kateryna Rozhkova, a deputy governor of the National Bank of Ukraine. Last week, Sergey Gorkov, chairman of Vnesheconombank told Rossiya 24: "We are in the final stage of selling, we are waiting for the decision of the regulatory bodies." The sale price is estimated at $100-120 million.
- Ukraine kicked off an international search Wednesday for a partner to jointly manage the nation’s massive gas transmission system. In advance, Naftogaz has signed memoranda of cooperation with four European companies: Gasunie, of Holland; GRTgaz of France; Snam of Italy; and Eustream of Slovakia.
- With Poland’s first LNG landing terminal to go fully on stream next year, Poland’s President Andrzej Duda is offering to supply Ukraine with gas. The terminal is located in Świnoujście, a Baltic port 1,000 km northwest of Lviv. At a Kyiv press conference with President Poroshenko, Duda said he hopes a Poland-Ukraine interconnector pipe will start operating in 2020, two years ahead of schedule. Pawel Stanczak, head of Ukrtransgaz, tells Interfax that this pipe could carry 5 billion cubic meters a year, helping Ukraine to become a regional gas hub.
- A major European gas exporting nation “is interested and ready to give Ukraine enough gas to develop a gas hub, given infrastructure existing in the country,” Igor Nasalik, Minister of Energy and Coal Industry, told journalists Wednesday. Such a hub could function without Russian gas. At the same time, Ukraine should more than triple production from its proven reserves of 1 trillion cubic meters of gas. He said: "We now produce less than 2% [of reserves]. The average production in Europe is 8-9%...Ukraine should produce 70 billion cubic meters of gas."
- Ukraine’s gas flows to Europe are back to normal after Tuesday’s explosion and fire at Austria’s gas hub in Baumgarten, Maxim Belyavsky, advisor to Ukraine’s Energy Ministry, tells Interfax. At one point on Tuesday gas flows west from Ukraine dipped by 23%.
- Ukraine’s production of steel pipe increased by almost one quarter through November, the Economic Development and Trade Ministry tells Interfax. Compared to the same period last year, pipe production is up 23.4%, on track to top 1 million tons this year.
- Interpipe Steel, one of Ukraine’s largest steel makers, increased its production by 36% to 779,000 tons through November, Interfax reports. Owned by Victor Pinchuk and his family, Interpipe is one of the world's top 10 seamless pipe manufacturers and the world’s third largest manufacturer of solid-rolled railway wheels.
- Ukraine will export 20.5 million tons of corn this marketing year and 17 million tons of wheat, according to US Department of Agriculture forecasts. Overall, grain exports will total 42.41 million tons, about 5% below last year.
- UkrAgroConsult reports that grain transportation to the Black Sea port is moving more smoothly compared to the last harvest season. The consultancy writes: “Compared to last year, grain transportation by railroad has improved, due to dispatch routes optimization, growth of rail car turnover, and new approaches to agricultural cargo transportation.”
- To speed grain to the Black Sea port of Mykolaiv, EUR300 million is to be loaned to Ukrainian Railways to electrify and double track two separate rail lines from interior farming regions. The European Bank for Reconstruction and Development and the European Investment Bank approved loans in recent days to upgrade the 148km Dolinskaya-Mykolaiv line and the 105km Kolosovka-Mykolaiv line.
- Debt restructuring for Mriya, the once London-listed agro-holding is nearly complete, Rothschild’s Moscow-based managing director Giovanni Salvetti told Ukrainska Pravda. Restructuring of the nearly $1 billion debt should be completed this spring, he said. Creditors took the company over almost two years ago. No member of the previous owner family, the Gutas, has been arrested. Salvetti said of the new management: “They saved the company, preserved its integrity and all 3,000 employees."
- Dragon Capital continues its commercial real estate investments buying RM Logistic, a 32,000 square meter warehouse terminal in Bucha, northwest of Kyiv. The complex is located on the E-373/M07 highway, which links Kyiv and Poland.
- President Poroshenko’s Roshen Corp. was not sold due to foreign buyer nervousness after Russia’s 2014 confrontation with Ukraine, Rothschild’s Giovanni Salvetti tells Ukrainska Pravda. During the spring 2014 presidential campaign, Poroshenko promised to sell his candy company and gave Rothschild and ICU investment bank the mandate to sell it. Salvetti said the company failed to attract buyers. "The Ukrainian-Russian crisis was at its peak, and its development was unpredictable, especially at that time,” he told the news site. “In fact, all interested parties told us that they were not prepared to take on such a high risk and politely rejected such an opportunity." He said Poroshenko then put his 85% company stake in a blind trust managed by Rothschild.
- Ukraine has applied to the EU for a new program of macro-financial assistance. The European Commission will determine the feasibility of a new program in coming months, Hugues Mingarelli, the EU Ambassador to Ukraine, told journalists on Wednesday. In a press release, the EU mission noted that Ukraine failed to receive a final EUR600 million tranche because it failed to fulfill four requirements. Looking forward, the note said: “We encourage Ukraine to maintain the reform momentum in the many areas that have progressed well, and complete the measures outstanding under the current program.”
- The US government is targeting two priority areas for economic modernization in Ukraine: establishment of an anti-corruption court and “energy sector reform, particularly with regard to gas tariffs,” Assistant Secretary of State A. Wess Mitchell told a U.S. Senate committee hearing Tuesday. “I have raised these subjects repeatedly. And I’m in constant contact with Poroshenko, Groysman, Foreign Minister Klimkin, [Rada Speaker] Parubiy, others, as is the Secretary [Tillerson]. We’re also coordinating very closely with the IMF to make sure that our messaging is in sync.”
- Ash Carter, US Secretary of Defense until 2017, calls for transparency in Ukraine’s defense budget. Speaking at a security panel organized in Kyiv by the Victor Pinchuk Foundation on Monday, he noted that 95% of US Defense Dept. budget is open to taxpayer inspection. He said: “5% of the defense budget is closed in the US. While 95% of the defense budget is closed in Ukraine.”
- Ukraine’s airports handled 29% more people through November than during the same period last year. Of the 15.3 million passengers, 89% percent flew internationally, according to the State Aviation Service.
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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 firstname.lastname@example.org