6:24 AM Sunday, March 25, 2018 Thursday, March 8
4G in July; 1 billion Viber calls in Ukraine; Record 2017 grain exports are triple 2010 volumes; Dragon buys Lviv’s biggest shopping center;
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Dragon Capital bought from two Turkish investors Victoria Gardens, Lviv’s newest and largest shopping center. The price was not disclosed. Attracted by Lviv, “one of the most dynamic cities in Ukraine,” Tomas Fiala, CEO of Dragon, said his priority is to finish construction and upgrade the tenant roll of the shopping center, which opened 18 months ago. With 1,500 parking spaces and a total leasable area of 48,229 square meters, Victoria Gardens is in a fast growing southern suburb, near the city’s international airport.

Ukraine’s 4G mobile service will be launched simultaneously in July by the big three mobile operators, their representatives tell Interfax. Echoing comments by Vodaphone and lifecell, Kyivstar President Peter Chernyshov said: "We will launch in the 1800 MHz band in July. Nobody has the right to launch it until July. Everyone should start simultaneously.”

Viber use is soaring in Ukraine. Users grew 11% last year, compared with 2016. “Every second citizen of Ukraine now has the messenger," claims the press service for Japan’s Rakuten Group, owner of the internet-based communication app. Rakuten did not say how many Ukrainians are on Viber. It did say that Ukrainian users sent 55 billion messages last year, an 80% increase over 2016. Ukrainian users made 1 billion audio and video calls last year, twice as many as 2016.

The new draft law on concessions and public private partnerships in infrastructure projects will go to the Rada within days, Mykhailo Titarchuk, deputy minister of Economic Development and Trade tells Ukrinform.

The share of Ukraine’s shadow economy declined last year to 33% of GDP, Titarchuk tells Ukrinform. By contrast, he says, in 2012, it was 45%. He says legalizing economic activity “improves the conditions for doing business and should contribute to economic growth."

Finance Minister Oleksandr Danylyuk is directing negotiators to bring EU macro financial aid over the one billion euro mark. He told RBC-Ukraine on Wednesday: "The program of one billion euros has been preliminarily approved, but we will continue consultations with the European Commission in order to find a way to increase this sum." EU officials say this aid is tied to Ukraine getting back on track with the IMF.

IMF representative in Ukraine, Goesta Ljungman, lists in an interview with Novoye Vremya the three hurdles standing between Ukraine and renewal of IMF lending: "So far, some parameters have not been met: the adoption of the law on an independent anti-corruption court, the reform of the energy sector and the provision of fiscal policy aimed at achieving the program's objectives." If these are met, he said, lending could resume this summer.

Ukraine exported 41.8 million tons of grain last year, 4% more than 2016 and three times the volume of 2010, according to the Institute of Agrarian Economy. Earnings rose by 7%, against 2016 to reach $6.5 billion. Ukraine exported a record amount of corn – 19.4 million tons. This was a 12.2% rise from 2016 and almost five times the level of the start of the decade. Wheat and barley were almost unchanged, but sorghum exports last year rose by 1.6 times compared with 2016. At 148,300 tons sorghum exports were almost four times higher than in 2010.

Ukraine more than tripled its potato exports last year, hitting 17,600 tons, reports Potatopro news site. The main destinations for Ukraine’s potatoes were Belarus – 10,500 tons for $2.6 million; Moldova – 4,000 tons, for $500,000; and Azerbaijan – 2,500 tons for $242,000.

MHP, the nation’s largest poultry producer, reports to the London Stock Exchange that its 2017 EBITDA was $459 million, 10.6% more than in 2016.

Energoatom, operator of Ukraine’s 15 nuclear power plants, lost $50 million last year, against a $8.8 million profit in 2016. Some losses may be due to the state company’s continued purchase of high priced nuclear fuel from Russia, while limiting purchases of cheaper fuel made by Westinghouse in Sweden.

From a low base, new registrations of electric vehicles were up 60% in January-February, compared to the same time last year. Of the 482 registrations, Ukrautoprom reports that 82% were for imported used cars.

Prime Minister Groysman has instructed the Justice Ministry and Naftogaz to identify overseas assets of Gazprom that could be seized in the event the Russian gas company follows through on its threat to ignore last week’s Stockholm court order to pay Naftogaz $2.6 million. The Cabinet press office quotes Groysman saying on Wednesday: “Ukraine's position in the situation with Gazprom must be strict and consistent: Gazprom must carry out the verdict of the Stockholm arbitration.”

President Poroshenko believes Gazprom will pay Naftogaz the $2.56 billion. He told three Ukrainian TV channels Wednesday evening: "First of all, I have no doubt that Ukraine will get everything to a penny… The position of the Russian Federation that it will not pay is a weak position. As we say: after a fight don’t wave your fists… tell me, please, who will further trust Russia as a reliable gas supplier? who will support the Nord Stream 2, if Russia is trying to continue using gas ... as a bribe or an instrument of political pressure?"

In an early sign of 2018 economic growth, industrial gas consumption was up 34% in January, while household consumption was down 13%. To a lesser extent, this split was seen last year. Industrial consumption was up 12.5%. Household consumption was down 7%.

Inflation cooled in February to 0.9%, compared to 1.5% in January, the State Statistics Service of Ukraine reports. This means that year over year inflation is 14%.

Seven Ukrainian billionaires are listed on Forbes annual ranking of the world’s wealthiest people. At the top is Rinat Akhmetov, owner of SCM, with a fortune estimated at $5.5 billion. Next is Konstantin Zhevago, owner of iron ore company Ferrexpo, with a fortune of $1.6 billion. In third place is Yuri Kosyuk, owner of MHP agricultural holding, with assets estimated at $1.5 billion. Coming in fourth is Victor Pinchuk, owner of Interpipe, EastOneGroup and media holding StarLightMedia, with estimated holdings of $1.4 billion. The next two are the former owners of Privatbank -- Gennady Bogolyubov -- $1.2 billion -- and Igor Kolomoysky -- $1 billion. The last Ukrainian billionaire on the list is Rada Deputy Vadim Novinsky with a fortune of $1 billion.

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