- SigmaBleyzer, the Houston-based private equity fund, is mulling creating a Ukraine energy fund oriented toward gas production, Vadim Bodayev, vice president of SigmaBleyzer Ukraine, tells Interfax. "SigmaBleyzer plans to engage a Texas-based operator company that owns more than 200 wells in the US, uses unique technology, and has more than 50 years of production experience," Bodayev said after signing a cooperation agreement with the Association of Gas Producing Companies of Ukraine in Kyiv on Wednesday. Without naming the Texas operator, he said: "At the initial stage, we are planning an investment of $ 100 million."
- The liberalization of Ukraine’s gas market has attracted about 40 gas traders to Ukraine, about double the level of two years ago, Roman Opimakh, chief operating officer of the Association of Gas Producers, told Ukrainian News agency.
- Lviv is authorizing construction of two 25-story office towers, Ukraine’s tallest buildings west of Kyiv. Located 6.5 km south of the city center, in the Sykhivsky district, the towers will be part of Avalon Status, a mixed office and residential complex to built on a two hectare lot, at Chervonoyi Kalyny Ave. 60. By contrast, Kyiv has 14 buildings over 25 stories and Dnipro has two.
- Chinese Vice Premier Ma Kai told Xinhua at the end of his two-day visit to Kyiv: “China is willing to work together with Ukraine to bring bilateral cooperation in such sectors as economy and trade, agriculture, space aviation, science and engineering, to a new level.” In Kyiv on Tuesday, Ma met with President Poroshenko, Prime Minister Groysman and Economic Development and Trade Minister Stepan Kubiv. Last May, Kubiv met Ma in Beijing, when Kubiv led a Ukraine economic delegation to China.
- China and Ukraine have signed a program of investment cooperation in farming. The goal is to identify priority areas for investment, said Olha Trofimtseva, deputy minister of the Agrarian Policy Ministry. She said areas “which may be of interest to Chinese partners include: transport logistics, production and processing of agricultural products, machinery manufacturing.”
- While some Ukrainian crops fill their EU quotas early in the year, the EU is opening its doors to more Ukrainian fresh fruit and berries. Riding a health trend, EU consumption has been growing at 15% a year over the last five years. But production lags for this labor intensive food. To meet demand, a fruit and berry export training seminar is being held this week in Kyiv, organized by the UN’s Food and Agriculture Organization, the Agrarian Policy Ministry, and Ukrsadprom, the national association of gardeners and fruit and berry producers.
- The 16-year-old moratorium on selling private farm land will be extended for another year, Olha Trofimtseva, Deputy Minister of Agrarian Policy and Food, predicted Wednesday in an interview with the UBJ. “It seems the moratorium will be prolonged for one year again,” she said. The Rada, she said, will set preconditions for a land market: full cadaster of land; financial mechanism for small operators to buy land; and definition on who can buy land. Initially, land sales are expected to be restricted to Ukrainian nationals for land plots no larger than 500 hectares.
- Britain joined the U.S. and the E.U. in warning the Poroshenko administration that its faltering anti-corruption drive threatens Western support for Ukraine. On Wednesday, the Foreign & Commonwealth Office issued this statement: “The UK has growing concerns that Ukraine’s fight against corruption is being undermined. Corruption remains a major threat to Ukraine’s stability and national security and is cited by Ukraine’s electorate as the number one issue facing the country.”
- Over the last four years, U.S. anti-corruption assistance has helped Ukraine discover $3.24 billion in stolen funds, leading to the seizure of about $1.3 billion in cash, the State Department said in a press release before International Anti-Corruption Day, Dec. 9. The release said: “U.S. law enforcement professionals are embedded in Ukraine’s National Anti-Corruption Bureau to help build anti-corruption and asset recovery capacity and strengthen Ukraine’s overall anti-corruption efforts. U.S. support has contributed to 333 criminal proceedings, 207 notices of suspicion, and the finalization of 108 indictments in cases related to corruption.”
- In the last two years, 1,052 Ukrainians have been convicted of corruption, 1,747 more have been charged, and 104 fugitives have been arrested, Vasyl Hrytsak, head the State Security Service, told the Rada Wednesday. Public opinion polls indicate that many Ukrainians believe the fight against corruption has been weak or nonexistent.
- A new report rating levels of transparency at 61 government ministries and departments has been posted on line at: https://regulation.gov.ua/rating/transparency2. This EU funded project came up with three winning ministries: Ecology and Natural Resources, Education and Science and Economic Development and Trade. The three least transparent ministries were: Energy and Coal Industry, Information Policy, and Agrarian Policy and Food.
- Next year, for the first time in five years, Ukraine’s banking sector will return to profitability, predicts Fitch Ratings. The forecast reads: “In 2018, profitability should improve because of lower financing costs and higher GDP.” But obstacles remain, notably problem loans which account for 57% of all loans.
- Ukrainian bank consumer loans and loans to small and medium-sized businesses may grow by one quarter in 2018, according to a press release by the RVS Bank. Vladislav Kravets, RVS board chairman said: "Banks will not be able to increase the corporate lending portfolio in 2018, as the question remains how to clear the portfolios of banks and borrowers from toxic assets that appeared during the crisis.”
- As many as 10 more banks will close next year, Sergei Mamedev, chairman of Globus Bank, predicted at a round table on banking forecasts for 2018. Since 2014, the National Bank of Ukraine has closed about half of the nation’s bank, leaving 88 open today. Analysts say that an economy the size of Ukraine’s could function well with 30-40 banks.
- Ukraine’s international reserves grew to $18.9 billion last Friday, almost enough to cover four months of imports. The National Bank reported: “Since the beginning of this year, they have grown by almost 22%.”
- Sales of electronics and home appliances did far better during “Black Friday 2017” compared to the same week long sales promotion in 2016, according to the GfK Ukraine’s weekly point of sale tracking service. Overall, sales from Nov. 20-26 were up 58% this year, compared to a 24% jump recorded last year. Laptop sales were up 60%, compared to a 20% increase last year. Tablet sales jumped 67%, compared to a 13% increase last year. TV sales jumped 171%, about three times last year’s increase.
- Lviv and Ivano-Frankivsk are Ukraine’s most attractive cities for outsourcing, according to a new report by KPMG. Factors cited include: availability and cost of skilled labor, developed infrastructure, the cost of renting offices and convenient geographical location. The international auditing and tax advisory company says that Ukraine now has more than 500 outsourcing IT companies, and 100 global research and development centers.
- Zaporozhye has become the 11th region to be ‘digitized’ by Google Ukraine. Under the project, digital sites have been created for tourism, sports, environment, business, and education. Marina Tarasova, spokeswoman Google Ukraine, did not say which region would be next, noting that digitizing a region takes six to nine months.
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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