This summer, president Petro Poroshenko demonstrated diplomatic talents and the ability to negotiate with external partners on favorable terms.
The current de facto oligarch No. 1 had to make some concessions, but there is no doubt that eventually he will be in the black.
The total pressure on financial and industrial groups, which are not direct allies of the president, has been replaced by the "dealing out elephants".
It touched upon those who demonstrate loyalty and readiness for cooperation. The rest continue to feel all the delights of "deoligarchisation".
And of course, in their concerns about Ukraine, their own interests are not forgotten.
Big coal deal
In early August, it became known about the Centrenergo state company's conclusion of contracts with the American coal company XCoal Energy & Resources for the supply of about 700 thousand tons of anthracite by the end of this year for the Trypilska, Zmiivska and Vyhlehirska thermal power stations, which were cut off from traditional sources of supply - mines located on an uncontrolled territory.
And the purchase price was more expensive than current prices - $113/ton. While Rinat Akhmetov's DTEK energy holding buys similar in quality South African anthracite for $100/ton.
Minister of energy and coal industry of Ukraine Ihor Nasalyk could not give any solid explanation for such a significant price difference.
He only assured that this is not a corruption scheme and everything is coordinated with the U.S. State Department.
Nasalyk added that the Americans are interested in long-term contracts, expecting to supply at least 2 million tons of coal for Centrenergo.
Xcoal CEO Ernie Thrasher, in turn, noted that the supply of thermal coal to Ukraine will support and create hundreds of jobs for miners in Pennsylvania.
In this connection, the previous appeals of the U.S. to the Ukrainian leadership are recalled to sell Centerenergo as soon as possible.
They were repeatedly voiced, in particular, by the then ambassador in Ukraine Geoffrey Pyatt.
This topic was also raised in the White House during the visits of P.Poroshenko and Prime Minister Volodymyr Groysman, as well as the previous head of the government Arseniy Yatsenyuk.
Now this topic is not mentioned - at least in the public sphere. This allows us to conclude that the issue was removed from the agenda at the price of a compromise.
Centrenergo switched to American coal, which allowed the overseas authorities to improve the employment situation and budget payments in Pennsylvania as well.
And in exchange for this, the White House not only "forgot" about the privatization of the Ukrainian state company, but also closed their eyes to such a "trifle" that the U.S. coal is bought at an inflated price.
That gives grounds to assume that the presidential "Family-2" also benefited from this transaction.
Let us recall that in August 2016, Oleksandr Vizir was appointed deputy chairman of the supervisory board of PJSC Centrenergo.
Earlier he was an assistant to the first deputy head of the Petro Poroshenko Bloc parliamentary faction Ihor Kononenko, a long-term personal friend and business partner of the president.
Another former assistant of I. Kononenko, Volodymyr Derzhavin, currently holds the position of deputy chairman of the State Property Fund of Ukraine.
There he oversees the activities of companies transferred to the State Property Fund of Ukraine management, including Centrenergo.
Thus, the "Family-2" managed to retain control over the state-owned company and avoid its privatization, in exchange for the import of coal from the United States.
No less revealing are the results of the August sale of government-owned blocking stake of 25% of shares in a number of energy companies.
Announced by the SPFU tenders for the sale of blocking stakes in Odessaoblenerho, Sumyoblenerho and Donbassenerho did not take place due to the absence of applications from potential buyers.
But the Fund managed to sell similar blocking stakes in Donetskoblenerho, Kyivenerho, Zakhidenerho, Dniproenerho and Dniproblenerho.
All of them are members of DTEK, a company that manages the energy business of SCM Group owner R. Akhmetov. And the company Ornex Ltd. from the SCM has become a buyer.
That is, R. Akhmetov strengthened his position on the Ukrainian electric power market and brought his share in a number of controlled energy companies close to 100%.
While Odessaoblenerho is controlled by the Russian business group VS Energy of Alexandr Babakov, Yevgeny Giner and other representatives of the so-called "Luzhniki group".
In turn, Sumyoblenerho enters the orbit of the Standard Energy group, which belongs to the Russian oligarch of Ukrainian origin Konstantin Grigorishin.
And, finally, according to the media, Donbassenerho is still controlled by the son of the runaway ex-president of Ukraine, Alexander Yanukovych.
It is quite obvious that the listed persons are also interested in becoming the sole owners of these energy companies.
Nevertheless, the announced tenders for Odessaoblenerho, Sumyoblenerho and Donbassenerho did not take place due to the absence of applications.
This means that the SPFU officials could skilfully arrange the “pitfalls” at the procedure for accepting applications for participation in privatization auctions.
Of course, one can ask: "Why was it necessary to display these blocking stakes for sale, if nobody wanted to sell them?".
However, the answer is simple – to make the process seem real and complete. If only assets, which are of interest to the SCM and bought by SCM, got to the auction, the situation would not look that appealing. At least, for Western partners of Ukraine.
It only remains to recall that the previous state-owned shares in the listed energy companies were bought by DTEK in 2011-2012 under V. Yanukovych’s presidency.
Then the owner of SCM paid even more than now. For example, 25% stake in Zakhidenerho were estimated at $13.3 million.
Whereas in 2011 such a package was worth almost $42.2 million - based on $74 million paid by DTEK for 45% of the company's shares.
Rinat Akhmetov should be congratulated on another profitable acquisition. While I would not rush to congratulate Petro Poroshenko.
And it's not just that he is trying to buy the political loyalty of potential competitors at the state expense i.е. at the expense of 45 million citizens of Ukraine.
We should simply recall that his predecessor as president did the same, generously distributing state-owned companies to loyal FIGs.
But ultimately, this did not save him from the loss of power. Loyalty of the oligarchs to V.Yanukovych has ended very quickly – as soon as they saw a threat for themselves in his future rule.
None of the owners of financial and industrial groups remembered the former "royal generosity" during the period of Euromaidan. Therefore, the current "drain" of state assets seems to be surprising.
The history teaches nothing. At least, among the powers that be. So, it has the property to be repeated again and again.
As for the other players in the electricity market, it is also not worth hurrying to express sympathy for them.
For example, the same "Luzhniki group members" feel themselves in Ukraine quite at home despite the sometimes frantic anti-Russian rhetoric of P.Poroshenko.
On March 7 of this year, the Antimonopoly Committee of Ukraine authorized ООО VS Energy International Ukraine to buy more than 50% of shares in PAO Chernivtsioblenergo.
That is why the current empty exhaust with Odessaoblenerho is just an element of a tactical subterfuge. At that time, they agreed, now – they do not. Obviously, the game is for increase in rates.
The president has an uneasy relationship with Oleg Bakhmatyuk, the owner of Ukrlandfarming agroholding and a colleague in the ranking of the richest Ukrainian businessmen.
Earlier, the National Bank of Ukraine, headed by Valeriya Gontaryeva, a long-term business partner of P.Poroshenko, closed VA Bank and Financial Initiative bank, owned by O.Bakhmatyuk.
He considers the actions of V.Gontaryeva asset-grabbing and even wrote an open letter to P.Poroshenko, asking to protect his business from the NBU.
The National Bank tried to force multi-billion debts on refinancing loans, issued earlier for VA Bank and Financial Initiative, out of O.Bakhmatyuk via the courts.
The NBU has even secured the arrest of the oligarch's estate, located near Kyiv, as a security of its stated claims. However, O.Bakhmatyuk appealed against this arrest, but that is not the point.
The main thing is that it was difficult to rank the owner of Ukrlandfarming among the favorites of Bankova despite his political support for the current government as a whole and friendship, in particular, with the current Minister of Justice Pavlo Petrenko.
Unlike, let us say, another agrarian oligarch and dollar billionaire Yuriy Kosiuk, the owner of Myronivsky Hliboproduct holding (Nasha Ryaba trade mark, etc.).
Yuriy Kosiuk did not stay long as a deputy head of the presidential administration: from July to September 2014. But it is obvious that he managed to maintain friendly relations with P.Poroshenko.
It is not surprising that it was Myronivsky Hliboproduct which turned out to be the main beneficiary party of the distribution of transfers from the budget under the program of state support of agricultural producers in Ukraine.
A need of such transfers for the super lucrative in Ukraine agrobusiness is a separate topic. Now we are talking only about their distribution.
It happened so that in accordance with government enactments, which determine the conditions for the provision of financial state support, its main recipients in January-June were Myronivsky Hliboproduct and… Ukrlandfarming.
They got $31.1 and $5.5 million correspondingly. This is 42% and 14% of the total volume of state subsidies to agricultural producers, allocated for the first half of this year.
It is curious that this may be the same legendary "Yanukovych money", which were returned with great pomp from the Ukrainian state Oschadbank to the Ukrainian state budget by the head of the PGO Yuriy Lutsenko – i.е. at the disposal of the Ministry of Finance.
It was on April 30. Withdrawn funds were received in the special fund of the state budget. At the same time, the Cabinet of Ministers of Ukraine adopted a regulation on the procedure for their use.
According to the document, 22.2% of the inpayment were directed to the Ministry of Agrarian Policy and Food, engaged in allocating subsidies to agricultural producers.
Let us recall that P.Poroshenko and Prime Minister Volodymyr Groysman promised to send the "money, stolen by Yanukovych from the people of Ukraine" to the Ukrainian army and to improve social standards for citizens.
Horses for courses…
The "dealing out elephants" that took place does not mean that the president tempered justice with mercy with regard to all oligarchs without any exception.
For example, pressure on the FIG Privat of Ihor Kolomoyskyi continues. In July, the nationalized Privatbank returned 74 tank farms to its ownership in connection with non-payment of loans.
The borrowers stopped paying and we were forced to return their property to the bank's ownership, head of the board of Privatbank Oleksandr Shlapak explained on July 4.
Since according to the NBU, most of Privatbank's loans were issued to Privat's firms, – one can say that the oil business of I.Kolomoiskyi's group suffered serious losses.
The bank is state now and its activities can be corrected by the presidential business entourage at its own discretion through the loyal head of the NBU.
With a probability of 99.99%, it can be assumed that the "grabbed" tank farms will not be long on the balance sheet of the state bank: they will be sold for the purpose of repayment of loan debts.
And buyers, again with a probability of 99.99%, will be "their own" people. And there is 99.99% that the price they pay will be very "delicious": i.e. much cheaper than the market one.
As it has been known from the media reports at the end of August, a company from ICU group intends to participate in auctions to which the Deposit Guarantee Fund (DGF) will expose the assets of Ukrainian bankrupt banks.
In other words, we are talking about the fact that concerned parties will be able to buy the right of claim for loans, issued by banks, which were later declared bankrupt.
This is being done in order the DGF will be able to pay off obligations of the bankrupt banks – i.e. will return money to depositors of these banks.
At the same time: 1) The DGF is headed by Kostyantyn Vorushylin, former banker of P.Poroshenko. 2) The NBU is headed by V.Gontaryeva – former owner of ICU. 3) ICU is engaged in servicing the business of P.Poroshenko.
And all three structures somehow have relation to the acting head of state.
Hence is the whole purpose of the notorious "reform" and "cleaning" of the banking sector, previously announced by V.Gontaryeva – the property redistribution. And nothing more.
Finally, let us recall that half of the banks closed in Ukraine in the course of "reform". On the other hand, did someone say that all would "live in a new way"?
Vitaliy Krymov, OstroV