- Exports to Europe grew by 21%, outstripping Ukraine’s global export increase of 16%, Prime Minister Groysman reports. In a sharp turn around from earlier dependence on Russia, EU countries bought 40.5% of Ukraine’s exports last year, or $20 billion.
- A new shopping center is to be built in Lviv, on a one hectare site next door to Aquapark Plyazh, 5 km southwest of Market Square, Zaxid.net news site reports. On the west side of Princess Olga Street, a busy divided boulevard, the location is near several other shopping complexes. Consumption is driven by the city’s booming tourism and tech industry, both dollar-denominated.
- The White House squarely blames Russia for last summer’s “Not Petya” cyber attack on businesses. The short statement reads: “In June 2017, the Russian military launched the most destructive and costly cyber-attack in history. The attack, dubbed “NotPetya,” quickly spread worldwide, causing billions of dollars in damage across Europe, Asia, and the Americas. It was part of the Kremlin’s ongoing effort to destabilize Ukraine and demonstrates ever more clearly Russia’s involvement in the ongoing conflict. This was also a reckless and indiscriminate cyber-attack that will be met with international consequences.”
- Ukraine’s Cabinet of Ministers proposes extending sanctions against Russia to ban the use of Russian software “in information and telecommunication systems of objects of critical infrastructure of the economy, national security and defense of Ukraine,” Interfax reports.
- Russia’s VTB bank will close almost all its Ukraine offices by this summer, Andrei Kostin, president of the bank, told RIA Novosti Friday on the sidelines of the Russian Investment Forum in Moscow. He said: “We will have only one or two offices in Kyiv. We are now very rigidly closing the branches across the country and paying off all the depositors.” Set up in 1990 as Russia’s Foreign Trade Bank, VTB has the Russian government as its majority shareholder. Until now, its bank office network largely has been in Eastern Ukraine: Cherkassy, Dnipro, Kharkiv, Kerson, Kriviy Rih, Mariupol and Poltava. Last March, the Poroshenko government imposed restrictions on the five Russian-owned banks operating here.
- Blocked from buying coal and coke from Ukraine’s separatist areas, ArcelorMittal is buying these raw materials for steel production from Russia, Girish Sardana, the company’s chief procurement officer, tells Metalurg news site. Despite delays with Ukrainian Railways supplying locomotives and wagons, the Kryvyi Rih mills were able to work at full capacity last year, hitting a record level of steel production -- 7 million tons.
- Germany and Poland diverged sharply Friday on Russia’s Nord Stream 2 pipeline, a pipe designed to deliver Russian gas directly to the EU without going through Ukraine. German energy groups Uniper and Wintershall, Austria’s OMV, Anglo-Dutch group Shell and France’s Engie are investing in the 1,225 km pipeline.
- German Chancellor Angela Merkel said at a Berlin press conference: “We think this is an economic project. We are also for energy diversification. We also want Ukraine to continue to have transit gas traffic, but we believe Nord Stream poses no danger to diversification.”
- Polish Prime Minister Mateusz Morawiecki told reporters later: “Once Nord Stream 2 is built, Putin can do with Ukraine whatever he wants…And then we potentially have his army on the eastern border of the EU.”
- “More than a dozen world-famous companies have declared their desire” to participate in the modernization and management of Ukraine’s massive, East-West gas transmission system, or GTS, President Poroshenko told reporters Saturday at the Munich Security Conference. Vice-Prime Minister Volodymyr Kistiona chairs a working group to select a foreign company partner to jointly operate the GTS with Naftogaz. The choice is to be made by this fall.
- President Poroshenko is expected sign a new law on limited liability companies that designed to modernize and streamline procedures for half a million companies, or about 43% of all business entities in Ukraine. The new law allows for debt to equity conversion, the practice of corporate deals, the use of corporate liability rights as collateral for loans, and introduces supervisory boards to Ukrainian private companies. Yulia Kovaliv, head of the Office of the National Investment Council, writes in the Kyiv Post: “Now there is less chance for anybody to illegally gain control over companies, appropriate their assets or block operational activities if there is a dispute with one of the co-owners.”
- Kyiv’s hotel industry has bounced back strongly, with revenue per available room growing by 20% last year. This was Europe’s third highest growth rate, lower only than Bucharest at 21% and Lisbon at 22%. Kyiv’s 50.9% occupancy rate is back to the pre-crisis level of 2013, Dennis Spitra, director of business development at STR Global, told the International Hospitality Conference in Kyiv on Saturday.
- By December, a train to the plane will take travelers from Kyiv’s central rail station to Boryspil International Airport in 35 minutes, Prime Minister Groysman promised after winning Cabinet Ministry approval Friday for the $30 million project. At present, taxis also can make the 35 km ride in 35 minutes. But bottlenecks form unpredictably at the Dnipro River bridges. Designed to carry almost 3 million passengers a year, the train could replace 1,000 car and 30 bus trips per day.
- Financed by Ukrainian Railways, work is to start June 1 on building five km of track, a highway overpass, and a station at Terminal D, the main international terminal. For rolling stock, Ukrzaliznytsya will renovate its existing Polish-made PESA passenger trains. One way tickets are to be $3, or $4.30 for first class. The line will start at Kyiv’s central station, stop at Vydubychi Metro/Bus station, cross the river, stop at Darnytsia Metro/Rail Station, and end at the airport. Groysman promised: "Quickly, punctually, and modern."
- Another regional airport is coming to life, as Poltava International Airport plans to start charter flights in May to Antalya, Turkey, Delo.ua reports, citing Andrei Pesotsky, first deputy head of the Poltava Regional Administration. At present, Poltasa has no scheduled flights. Last December, as part of an ongoing renovation, the airport won international status. Located 300 km east of Boryspil and 166 km west of Kharkiv, the airport was busy in the Soviet era, receiving dozens of flights a week.
UBJ is now free access. Please relay our link to your friends and business partners who want clear, reliable business information about Ukraine. -- www.theubj.com
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