Business news from Ukraine

Ukraine’s Antimonopoly Committee has revealed grounds for banning acquisition of mobile operator lifecell by French NJJ

The Antimonopoly Committee of Ukraine (AMCU) has identified grounds for banning the acquisition of control over lifecell group by French billionaire Xavier Niel’s DVL Telecom, a member of NJJ group.

In particular, the antitrust agency believes that it is necessary to check the relationship of control of lifecell itself and the parent company Turkcell with the person to whom the decision of the national security and defense Council of Ukraine applied personal special economic and other restrictive measures (sanctions).

“When considering applications for the acquisition of control over the group “Lifecell” by the company “DVL Telecom” arose the need to verify the relationship of control of the participants of the concentration, in particular the group “Lifecell” and the group “Turkcell” with the person to whom the personal special economic and other restrictive measures (sanctions) applied by the decision of the National Security and Defense Council of Ukraine,” – said the press service of the AMCU on Monday.

The report states that, having considered the applications on the acquisition of control by DVL Telecom over Lifecell LLC, Global Bilgi LLC and Ukrtauer LLC (lifecell group), the AMCU has identified grounds for banning the said concentrations.

“Given that the concentrations in the form of acquisition by DVL Telecom of control over Lifecell LLC, Ukrtauer LLC and Global Bilgi LLC constitute a single transaction and will take place under a single sale and purchase agreement, a separate authorization for DVL Telecom’s acquisition of control over Global Bilgi LLC cannot be granted by the Committee either,” the AMCU notes.

Considering the above, on March 7, 2024, the Committee again started consideration of the concentration cases in the form of acquisition by DVL Telecom of control over Lifesell, Global Bilgi and Ukrtauer LLC. At the same time began consideration of the case on concerted actions, which are directly related to the implementation of these concentrations, specified in the press service.

Earlier it was reported that at the meeting on March 7 AMCU allowed DVL Telecom to acquire control over Datagroup Holding Limited (“Datagroup-Volya”). In addition, the antimonopoly agency allowed concerted actions between NJJ UPAM (Paris, France), Lorimer II Ventures Limited (Nicosia, Cyprus), DVL Telecom (Paris, France) and a natural person – citizen of Ukraine in the form of implementation of provisions on refraining from competition, provided by Section 19 of the shareholders’ agreement, which will be concluded between these entities for a period of five years.

On December 29, 2023, Turkcell, a Turkish company, signed an agreement to transfer 100% of the shares, as well as all rights and debts of Lifecell LLC (TM lifecell), Ukraine’s third largest mobile operator, including contact center outsourcing company Global Bilgi LLC and tower rental service provider Ukrtauer LLC, to the French investment company NJJ Capital.

The decision to sign the agreement was made by the Board of Directors on December 20, but as early as May 9 it decided not to disclose information about the possible deal. Turkcell specified that the nominal price of Lifesell shares is UAH 12 billion 711.849 million, Global Bilgi – UAH 47.226 million and Ukrtauer – UAH 1 billion 964.04 million.

Authorized representatives of NJJ Capital (Paris, France) and Global Bilgi LLC (Kyiv, Ukraine) applied to the Antimonopoly Committee (AMCU) for authorization of NJJ Capital to indirectly acquire a part in the authorized capital of Global Bilgi, which provides for exceeding 50% of votes in the supreme governing body of the company, as well as parts providing for exceeding 50% of votes in the supreme governing bodies of Lifesell and Ukrtauer on December 29, 2023. The applications were returned to them as they did not meet the requirements set by the committee.

On January 23, 2024, AMCU received a second application to acquire the stake that provides control in Lifsell, Global Bilgi and Ukrtauer LLC from DVL Telecom, a member of the NJJ group.

According to market participants, a problem for the completion of the deal may also be the partial seizure of stakes in the companies being sold on charges against the under-sanctioned Mikhail Fridman, who indirectly controls a minority stake in Turkcell.

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Antimonopoly Committee returns Irish CRH’s application to buy Buzzi assets in Ukraine

The Antimonopoly Committee of Ukraine (AMCU) has returned without consideration the application of the Irish CRH group for permission to concentrate the assets of the Italian Buzzi in Ukraine, Forbes Ukraine reported citing the agency.

According to the publication, the application submitted by CRH did not meet the requirements of the committee. In addition, the AMCU pointed to the presence of an oligopoly in the Ukrainian cement market, with CRH already holding about a third of the market.

Interfax-Ukraine contacted CRH for comment.

As reported, Italian cement producer Buzzi has reached an agreement to sell its Ukrainian business and ready-mixed concrete assets in Slovakia to CRH for EUR100 million. The deal is expected to be completed in 2024.

Buzzi Unicem SpA (Italy) unites companies producing cement, concrete, sand, gravel, etc. The group’s core business is cement production, which is produced at its own facilities in Germany, the USA, Luxembourg, the Czech Republic, Poland, Russia and Ukraine. Buzzi’s Ukrainian subsidiary, Dickerhoff Cement Ukraine, operates branches based at Volyn Cement (Zdolbuniv, Rivne region) and Yugcement (Olshanske, Mykolaiv region). The group also operates in the ready-mix concrete sector in Kyiv, Odesa and Mykolaiv.

In Eastern Slovakia, Buzzi’s assets consist of six ready-mix concrete plants.

As reported, in March 2023, the National Agency for the Prevention of Corruption (NAPC) added the Italian cement producer Buzzi Unicem to the list of international sponsors of war. In Russia, Buzzi operates through SLK Cement LLC, which owns two cement plants, Sukholozhskcement and Korkino, a terminal in Omsk, and the Cemtrans transportation company. According to the NACP, the company is among the top five leaders in the Russian cement industry.

Ireland’s CRH Plc, the world’s largest manufacturer of building materials, which owned six construction mix plants in Russia, announced its withdrawal from the Russian market.

CRH entered the Ukrainian market in 1999 by acquiring the Kamianets-Podilskyi cement plant in Khmelnytskyi region. Currently, CRH also owns Odesa Cement Plant and Mykolaivcement (Lviv region).

CRH’s separate business in Ukraine is the production of concrete and reinforced concrete products. PoliBeton Energo, a Bila Tserkva-based concrete goods plant, is a specialized enterprise that produces power transmission towers. PoliBeton’s concrete hub in the north of Odesa joined CRH in 2020.


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Antimonopoly Committee fined “Fialka” and “Style-Decor” companies with 92 million UAH for collusion

The Antimonopoly Committee of Ukraine (AMCU) has fined the private companies Fialka and Style-Decor UAH 92 million for collusion in the tender for the reconstruction of the Avangard stadium in Rivne, the agency’s press service has said.
According to the statement, the committee found evidence of coordination between the two companies during the participation in the tender due to which the competition between them was eliminated. The expected cost of works at the tender was UAH 202.2 mln, the AMCU notes.
For the concerted actions at the auction the companies, in addition to the fine, are banned from participating in public procurement for three years.
According to Opendatabot, the owner and beneficiary of the private industrial and commercial firm “Fialka” (Sumy) is Vahid Kurbanov. According to the company’s financial statements for 2020, it was not engaged in economic activities.
The owner and beneficiary of LLC “Style-Decor” is named Vera Rozhchuk. In 2020 the company received 151 thousand UAH of net loss and 23 million UAH of income.

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Antimonopoly Committee opened a case against “Terra-Food”

The Administrative Board of the Northern Interregional Territorial Branch of the Antimonopoly Committee of Ukraine (AMCU) has begun considering a case against Terrafood LLC (Terra-Food TM) for the production and distribution of a cheese product, the packaging design of which could mislead consumers .
As reported on the agency’s website on Thursday, the Antimonopoly Committee of Ukraine opened a case on a complaint from a consumer who purchased the Mozzaretta cheese product produced by Terrafood LLC, confusing it with traditional mozzarella cheese due to a similar inscription on the package and its design in the colors of the Italian flag.
“During the consideration of the application, it was found that the dominant inscription in the Latin Mozzaretta placed on the front side of the package, in particular, that the font of this inscription (the letters “TT” are visually similar to “LL”) may give the consumer an erroneous impression regarding the method of manufacture and composition of the product (…) and influence his intention to purchase the product of this enterprise,” the Committee said in a statement.
The AMCU recalled that real mozzarella cheese, in accordance with international standards, may contain starters from lactic and/or aromatic bacteria, cultures of harmless microorganisms, rennet or other safe milk-precipitating enzymes, salt substitute, vinegar, flour and crumbs, in some cases safe dyes , acidity regulators, stabilizers and preservatives.
At the same time, in the composition of the Mozzaretta product under the TM “Terra-Food”, in particular, fats of non-dairy origin were found, which contradicts Article 1 of the Law “On Milk and Dairy Products”.
Given the above, the actions of the manufacturer in terms of product packaging contain signs of a violation of the law “On Protection against Unfair Competition”, the Committee reported and added that consideration of the relevant case had begun.
GC “Terra Food” develops business in three sectors – dairy, meat and agriculture. It is one of the five largest producers of dairy products in the country.
The production capacity of 10 milk processing enterprises of the holding before the Russian invasion was 31,000 tons of cheese, 78,000 tons of butter and vegetable butter, and 61,000 tons of whole milk products per year.
More than 100 types of meat products of the group are produced at the Tulchinsk Meat Processing Plant – more than 6 thousand tons of products per year.


Antimonopoly Committee of Ukraine opens case against Borshchahiv Chemical and Pharmaceutical Plant

On September 2, the Antimonopoly Committee of Ukraine began consideration of the case on the grounds that PJSC “Scientific and Production Center” Borshchahiv Chemical and Pharmaceutical Plant “(BHFZ) committed a violation under Article 16 of the Law “On Protection from Unfair Competition” in the form of unlawful collection of commercial secrets of PrJSC “Pharmaceutical firm “Darnitsa” (both from Kyiv).
“In a statement to the Antimonopoly Committee of Ukraine, the complainant said that during the consideration of the case in one of the domestic courts, his competitor noted in the text of the recall information about PJSC FF Darnitsa, which is a commercial secret. We are talking about information about active pharmaceutical ingredients imported by the company,” the antimonopoly agency said in a press release on Thursday.
According to the report, Darnitsa also alleges that it did not give the competitor permission to obtain, disclose or otherwise use information containing trade secrets. According to the applicant, the information was obtained in an unlawful way, since it cannot be known to third parties on legal grounds, since appropriate measures are taken to protect this data.
The Committee indicates that it has found that the applicant and the respondent are direct competitors.
The Office notes that this is the second complaint of this kind in its history. In 2018, by decision No. 30-r/tk, the Provisional Administrative Board fined Ergon-Electric LLC UAH 360,000 for misuse of the trade secret of its competitor, TIK Vector-VS LLC, received from its former employees.
The defendant unsuccessfully appealed against the decision of the Antimonopoly Committee of Ukraine to the Economic Court in Kyiv, the Northern Economic Court of Appeal and the Supreme Court. By a ruling dated November 23, 2020, the Supreme Court upheld the position of the committee and upheld the decision of the courts of first instance and appeal.
BHFZ and Darnitsa are among the largest Ukrainian pharmaceutical companies. Darnitsa owns 31.8037% of BHFZ shares.


Antimonopoly Committee of Ukraine opens case against trading system ProZorro.Sale

The Antimonopoly Committee of Ukraine has opened a case on the fact that ProZorro.Sale state enterprise had established additional terms of the contract and payment for access by operators of authorized electronic platforms to the electronic trading system ProZorro.Sale.
“The case was initiated on the statements of one of the operators, who complained about the unreasonable increase in fees for the development of the electronic trading system and the provision of access to ProZorro.Sale only after additional conditions are met,” the statement on the official website of the Antimonopoly Committee of Ukraine reads.
It is indicated that the state-owned enterprise requires a certain fee for the development of the electronic trading system, however, the AMCU has reason to believe that its size is not economically justified.
The committee also found out that ProZorro.Sale state enterprise provides operators with access to the ProZorro.Sale trading system only if they fulfill additional marketing obligations that do not directly relate to the subject of the access agreement and aim to promote the trading system.
The AMCU noted that back in 2021, the committee began to study the situation on the market for providing services for access of operators of authorized electronic platforms to the electronic trading system, which is used to conduct auctions in normatively defined areas.
As a result of the adoption of control measures, recommendations were provided to ProZorro.Sale aimed at eliminating the above problems. However, the state-owned enterprise has not taken comprehensive steps to prevent possible negative consequences for the competitive environment.
Now, in case of evidence of the negative impact of the actions of ProZorro.Sale on competition in the market, the company may face a fine of up to 10% of income per year preceding the decision on the violation.
The net income of the state enterprise in 2021 increased by 2.7 times, to UAH 141.81 million, and its net profit increased to UAH 42.43 million from UAH 950,000 in 2020.
In the first half of 2022, the revenue of ProZorro.Sale decreased by 36.3%, to UAH 25.14 million, and its net loss amounted to UAH 6.92 million against UAH 550,000 of net profit for the first half of 2021.

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