- In a big bet on Lviv, Dragon Capital is buying Victoria Gardens, the largest and most modern shopping center in Western Ukraine. Opened 14 months ago, Lviv’s 3-story Victoria Gardens has a gross leasable area of 54,000 square meters. At opening, it was valued at $110 million. The Antimonopoly Committee of Ukraine on Wednesday authorized Dragon, a Kyiv-based investment bank, to buy a majority stake in Victoria Gardens and in ECO Tower, the tallest building in Zaporizhia, Ukraine’s sixth largest city. Rising 19 stories with views of the Dnipro River, ECO is a shopping and business center that ranks as the city’s only Class A office space.
- Ukraine’s booming e-commerce market for goods and services is will expand by 30% this year, hitting $2.3 billion, predicts Denys Horovy, development director of EVO Group, a UK-based business supply company with internet-based marketplaces in Ukraine, Belarus and Kazakhstan. In a pre-Christmas press conference, he told reporters that the number of orders on his group’s marketplaces increased by 61% in 2017, to 14.8 million. He said: “In 2017, Ukrainians purchased 68% more goods on marketplaces of the EVO group -- Prom.ua, Bigl.ua, Crafta.ua, Kabanchik.ua -- compared to last year.” With the average order totaling $35, Ukrainians mainly bought online: shoes, clothes, accessories, electronics, goods for home and garden, cosmetics and perfumes.
- Russia is considering a ‘crypto-ruble’ to avoid Ukraine sanctions, the Financial Times reports from Moscow. The FT reports that Putin advisor Sergei Glazev said a crypto currency could be useful to carry out “sensitive activity on behalf of the state. We can settle accounts with our counterparties all over the world with no regard for sanctions.” Concorde Capital’s Zenon Zawada writes: “Whether or not the Russian government pursues this plan, it confirms our view that it is working desperately to relax or remove the Western-imposed sanctions related to the occupation of Ukraine.”
- ProZorro handled 31,000 successful tenders for medicines in 2017, the state-owned online procurement system reports. ProZorro officials estimated to Interfax that the online tenders saved the national budget about $20 million.
- Chinese demand for Ukrainian amber has pushed prices up four fold in recent years, fueling an illegal gem rush that is turning patches of northwest Ukraine into moonscapes, AFP reports from Rivne. Geologists believe that Ukraine has 15,000 tons of amber, second only to Russia. Ranging from pale yellow to deep brown, this fossilized tree resin is used for jewelry. Legal production is about four tons a year. Illegal prospectors in northwest Ukraine mine between 120 to 300 tons, largely using high pressure water hoses to loosen amber buried up 10 meters below ground. AFP interviewed one miner, a former assistant manager in a Kyiv trading company. In Kyiv, he earned $220 a month. In the amber fields, he earned $300 in his first five days.
- Lured by Ukraine’s high green energy tariffs, renewable energy facilities were commissioned last year at double the rate of 2016, reports the National Commission for Regulating Energy and Utilities. Last year, total installed renewable energy capacity increased by 23% - to almost 1,375 MW. Solar accounted for 82% of new capacity. Ukraine’s green tariffs are among the highest in Europe, a key part of the government’s 3-year drive to raise renewables from 1% of energy consumption today to 11% in 2020.
- Ukraine’s gas imports rose 27% in 2017, to 14.1 billion cubic meters, according to Ukrtransgas, the state pipeline operator. Rising imports underline the government’s challenge to attain ‘gas independence’ within three years.
- Ukraine plans to phase out foreign imports of anthracite coal by the end of 2019, Ihor Nasalyk, Minister of Energy and Coal Industry, said at a year end press conference in Kyiv. In 2017, anthracite consumption by Ukraine’s power plants dropped in half, from 10.6 million tons to 5 million tons. This year it is to fall to 3 million tons. Ukraine started importing anthracite coal after Kyiv’s decision last March to stop buying coal from mines in occupied Donetsk. Power plants that burned anthracite coal now are being converted to coal gas.
- Taxes collection hit 100% of the 2017 national budget target, the State Treasury Service reported Wednesday. The Treasury raised UAH 793.6 billion, or $28.3 billion at current exchange rates. The hryvnia total was up by almost one third from 2016. Inflation in 2017 was about 13%. Hryvnia tax payments were up 23%, and customs revenue were up 31%.
- Naftogaz payments of taxes and dividends to the national budget were up 50% in 2017, over 2016, the state oil and gas company reports. The $3.7 billion payment amounts to 14% of all revenues to the budget in 2017.
- During the second half of 2017, Ukraine exported 21.4 million tons of grain, 10% less than the 23.8 million tons for the same period last year. Wheat, corn, barley, and soybeans were all down. The only increase was for rapeseed, which is crushed for canola cooking oil. By the end of June, the end of the marketing year, Ministry of Agrarian Policy forecasts that Ukraine’s overall grain exports will be 41 million tons, down 7% from last year’s record of 44 million tons.
- Indigo Partners, the US-based private equity firm, has ordered 146 Airbus passenger jets for Wizz Air. Based in Budapest, Wizz Air carries the second largest number of passengers to Ukraine, after Ukraine International Airlines. The discount airline is tripling its jet fleet, to 288, by 2026.
- In 2022, passenger traffic at Kyiv’s Boryspil Airport is forecast to hit 25 million passengers, more than double the record 11 million that used the airport in 2017. To handle the growth, airport authorities are embarking on a five year, $350 million expansion project, reports Liga.net. Plans include: rebuilding one of the two runways; finishing construction of the parking garage; adding six sky bridges to Terminal D, the main international terminal; and conversion of Terminal B from cargo to a terminal for charter and low cost airlines.
- Investor Alert, from a Barcelona-based American investor friend of UBJ.am:
- “Who: Dmytro Kaganovski. Based in Kyiv, originating from Kharkiv. Former employers include Ernst & Young.
- What happened: Kaganovski has been actively soliciting funds for various start-ups in recent months. We are aware of four people who gave him funds -- and then almost immediately had them stolen. This includes both international investors such as myself, native Russian-speaking investors, and previous business partners based in Kiev. All of us considered Kaganovski to be a personal friend for many years. Our investment sin is that was a primary reason for providing the financing.
- Kaganovski's companies: Labracode, Transcendence Capital, Gardners.net, and Qoderoom.”
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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