Business news from Ukraine

UKRAINE APPROVES HYGIENE REQUIREMENTS FOR PRODUCTION OF MINERAL WATERS

The Ministry for Development of Economy, Trade and Agriculture of Ukraine has approved the hygiene requirements for the production and circulation of mineral and spring waters that meet the requirements of EU legislation on their exploitation and marketing, the ministry said in a press release on Tuesday. According to the report, order No. 741 was signed by Minister Ihor Petrashko on April 13.
The document also defines the methods of processing mineral and mine waters and the requirements for the equipment used in their production.
The order, in particular, regulates the labeling of mineral waters and, among other things, prohibits the use of the indication on the labelling attributing prophylactic or medicinal properties to water. These requirements shall not apply to waters which are medicinal products, as well as to waters consumed by people at source or natural exit to the surface.
According to the Economy Ministry, the order meets the requirements of Directive 2009/54/EC of the European Parliament and of the Council of 18 June 2009 on the exploitation and marketing of natural mineral waters and will enter into force three months after the date of its official publication.
According to an explanatory note to the document, the implementation of the order will create uniform requirements for the production and circulation of natural mineral and spring waters, will have a positive impact on the health of the population and on the market environment in the circulation of this product.
“The order will introduce European requirements for natural mineral waters, remove barriers to investment in the production of such waters in Ukraine and create conditions for fair competition in the market,” Deputy Minister Serhiy Hluschenko said.

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UKRAINE’S JUSTICE MINISTRY TO ATTRACT ADVISOR TO DEFEND NATIONAL BANK IN $300 MLN DISPUTE IN US

The Ukrainian government has allowed the Ministry of Justice to engage a legal advisor to defend the state in an Oleh Zhukovsky’s $300 million lawsuit filed on January 4 this year against the National Bank of Ukraine with the United States District Court for the Southern District of Florida. According to an explanatory note to the document, the National Bank received a statement of claim on February 5 this year, after which it turned to the Ministry of Justice for help. On March 11, an interdepartmental working group was created to protect the interests of the state in this case, which considered it necessary to involve the advisor.
According to the lawsuit, Zhukovsky is seeking to recover $102.2 million of the principal amount of the debt and the interest, penalties and fines on deposits in Brokbusinessbank, invested by companies ZUKK Trading Limited, Intertransgroup LLC and ex-MP from the Yulia Tymoshenko Bloc Mykola Kovzel and his assistant Vitaliy Didylivsky in 2012-2013. They transferred the rights to compensation for losses to Zhukovsky, who engaged Shutts & Bower in the lawsuit.
It claims that the officials of the National Bank were “accomplices” of the scheme for allegedly withdrawing money from Brokbusinessbank by business man Serhiy Kurchenko, and after a part of the funds in the amount of $172 million was returned as a result of special confiscation in 2017, they sent them to pay interest on eurobonds of Ukraine to American mutual funds including Franklin Templeton Investments, T. Rowe Price and TCW.
According to the lawsuit, criminal cases of embezzlement related to the case are being investigated in Ukraine and the United States, which corroborates the plaintiff’s charges. In addition to Brokbusinessbank and Kurchenko, who bought it in 2013 without the permission of the Antimonopoly Committee of Ukraine and his Real Bank, the plaintiff also accuses ex-Governor of the National Bank Serhiy Arbuzov, who allegedly assisted them and Ihor Sorkin, who replaced him, as well as Viktor Yanukovych, who was then President of Ukraine. The list of those involved also included Valeriya Gontareva, who became governor of the NBU after the escape of Yanukovych, under whom the deposits in Brokbusinessbank could not be returned.
In addition, the list of those involved contains ex-owners of PrivatBank Ihor Kolomoisky and Hennadiy Boholiubov, their American partners Mordechai Korf and Uriel Laber, companies from the Optima group, as well as Ukrnafta and PrivatBank. The lawsuit alleges that the ex-owners of PrivatBank were involved in laundering Kurchenko’s money and buying real estate in the United States using this money.

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UKRAINIAN COURT UPHOLDS APPEAL OF PHILIP MORRIS AND CANCELS UAH 1.18 BLM FINE

The Pivnichny (Northern) Economic Court of Appeal upheld an appeal of CJSC Philip Morris Ukraine and Philip Morris Sales and Distribution LLC in case No. 910/17723/19, canceled the decision of the Kyiv Economic Court dated August 5, 2020, and canceled the fines for a total amount of UAH 1.18 billion imposed on them in 2019 by the Antimonopoly Committee of Ukraine (AMCU). According to the court’s decision, promulgated in the unified public register of court rulings, the Pivnichny Economic Court of Appeal ruled to invalidate paragraphs 1 and 11 of AMCU decision No. 697-r dated October 10, 2019 that concern the PMI group of companies, as well as invalidate paragraphs 3 and 4 of this solution.
In addition, the court ruled to collect UAH 14,400 of court fee from the AMCU in favor of OJSC Philip Morris Ukraine (the settlement of Dokuchayevske, Kharkiv region) and Philip Morris Sales and Distribution LLC (Kyiv).
The Pivnichny Economic Court of Appeal also ruled to return the materials of case No. 910/17723/19 to the Economic Court of the city of Kyiv.
The decision of the appellate instance entered into force from the date of its awarding.
As reported, the AMCU in October 2019 imposed a fine of UAH 6.5 billion on four tobacco producers and distributor Tedis Ukraine for anticompetitive concerted actions. Later, Philip Morris Ukraine paid a fine to the AMCU in the total amount of more than UAH 1.18 billion in order to avoid the accrual of penalties, but in February 2020, PMI submitted a notification to the Ministry of Justice of Ukraine that Ukraine had violated a number of obligations under investment protection agreements.
The companies of the Philip Morris International group on December 21, 2020 also filed a claim about bilateral investment arbitration against the government of Ukraine with the International Centre for Settlement of Investment Disputes (Washington, DC, the United States) in connection with the unfair, in their opinion, decision of the Antimonopoly Committee of Ukraine (AMCU) to fine them UAH 1.2 billion in the case of the wholesale distributor Tedis Ukraine.

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VODAFONE’S REVENUE IN UKRAINE LAST YEAR INCREASES BY 14% TO UAH 18 BLN

Vodafone Ukraine (PrJSC VF Ukraine) at the end of 2020 cut its net profit by 52.4% compared to 2019, to UAH 1.2 billion.
Vodafone Ukraine CEO Olha Ustynova said that the drop in net profit was due to the exchange rate difference.
“The only and main factor why this happened is the exchange rate difference on our loan. The U.S. dollar exchange rate has changed, the $500 million loan, which is more than [UAH] 1 billion of loss as a result to our net profit,” she said during the presentation last year’s results on Tuesday.
According to her, the company’s revenue last year increased 14% and amounted to UAH 18 billion, and the OIBDA (operating income before depreciation of fixed assets and intangible assets) grew by 18% year-over-year, reaching UAH 9.8 billion.
The number of Vodafone Ukraine customers in the country at the end of the year amounted to 19 million. The operator’s 4G network covers 81% of the country’s territory, which is 12% higher than the previous indicator for 2019.
At the end of 2020, the number of Vodafone Ukraine data users was 12.2 million, and the number of 4G users was 7.3 million.
Over the past year, the use of data traffic grew by 26%.
Vodafone Ukraine is the second largest mobile network operator in Ukraine.

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UKRAINIAN DAIRY PRODUCTS ESPECIALLY BUTTER MOST OFTEN COUNTERFEITED

Milk and dairy products (especially butter) were most often falsified among food products in the first quarter of 2021, and the most common violation in the production of butter is the presence of non-dairy fats, the State Service of Ukraine on Food Safety and Consumer Protection said.
According to the agency, the second common type of violation this year is the inconsistency of food labeling.
The service clarified that since the beginning of the year, it has carried out 85 scheduled and 2,900 unscheduled inspections. As a result, more than 31 tonnes of products were withdrawn from circulation, including 6 tonnes of milk and dairy products, 4.7 tonnes of fish, 3.3 tonnes of poultry, 2 tonnes of meat and meat products. The department made 49 decisions to suspend the circulation of food products, transferred 11 cases to law enforcement agencies and issued fines to violators in the amount of over UAH 1.6 million.
“The food products that Ukrainian consumers buy must be safe and meet all legislative norms and requirements. We must protect consumers. Work in this direction will only intensify,” head of the department Vladyslava Mahaletska said.
As reported, the State Service of Ukraine on Food Safety and Consumer Protection in March introduced a unified quality standard for raw milk, within the framework of which the Milk Module was launched – software for the automatic collection of research results for dairy raw materials.
According to Mahaletska, the Milk Module calculates the level of total bacterial contamination and the number of somatic cells in milk raw materials. Milk producing farms and milk preparation points in nine regions of Ukraine are involved in the raw milk control program. The project is already being implemented in Kharkiv, Vinnytsia, Mykolaiv and Poltava regions, while Khmelnytsky, Donetsk, Dnipropetrovsk, Kyiv, Volyn and Sumy regions are ready for its launch.

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FITCH RATINGS REVISES METINVEST’S OUTLOOK TO STABLE FROM NEGATIVE

Fitch Ratings has revised Metinvest B.V.’s outlook to stable from negative, the Long-Term Issuer Default Ratings (IDRs) and senior unsecured rating for the bonds of the Ukrainian integrated steel company are affirmed at ‘BB-‘, the recovery rating is ‘RR4’, the rating agency said on its website. “The revision of Metinvest’s outlook reflects strong cash flow generation linked to supportive steel and iron ore markets amid the global economic recovery and our expectation of a gradual reduction of gross debt to $ 2.9 billion ($ 2.5 billion net; both Fitch-adjusted values) over the next three years. It also takes into consideration that some of this cash flow will be used for earnings accretive growth, including taking control of Pokrovske Coal and incremental capital expenditure,” the report says.
“Fitch now forecasts funds from operations (FFO) gross leverage of 1.5x-1.6x over the medium term, providing for very comfortable headroom compared to the negative ratio guideline of 2.5x for the ‘BB-‘ rating. But we note that the company does not have a formal dividend policy or gearing target,” it says.
Metinvest is a vertically integrated group of mining and metallurgical enterprises. Its enterprises are located in Ukraine – in Donetsk, Luhansk, Zaporizhia and Dnipropetrovsk regions, in European countries. In particular, in Bulgaria there is Promet Steel plant with a capacity of 500,000 tonnes of rolled metal per year, in Italy – Metinvest Trametal and Ferriera Valsider with a total capacity of 1.2 million tonnes per year. In the UK, the company owns Spartan UK plant that can produce 200,000 tonnes of rolled steel per year.
The main shareholders of the holding are SCM Group (71.24%) and Smart-Holding (23.76%), which jointly manage it.
Metinvest Holding LLC is the management company of Metinvest Group.

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