News (#11 November 2018)

BIZNEWS

AMCU

Case against Kyivstar and Vodafone dismissed

The Antimonopoly Committee of Ukraine has dismissed a case following the petition filed by Lifecell about non-competitive conditions between Kyivstar and Vodafone in regions where these operators have a financial advantage.

A reminder that in summer 2015 mobile operator Lifecell appealed to the AMCU with a complaint against the mentioned operators.

The company claimed that these operators intentionally do not compete with each other in regions where each of them has a financial advantage (Vodafone in the east, Kyivstar in the west of the country). Lifecell wanted competitors to lower their prices in these regions.

The Committee disagreed with this point on non-competitive conditions. After carrying out findings, the AMCU decided that there is no monopolistic position in these cases and that customers can buy a card of any of the operators, moreover, there is constant competition between Kyivstar and Vodafone: subscriber migration, competition for radio frequency resources, investment, tariff wars.

The EU

European Parliament supported ban on one-time plastics

On 24 October the European Parliament approved the introduction of a ban on the use of one-time plastic products by a majority vote.

The ban covers one-time (single-use) plastic products, namely plastic straws, cotton buds, plates, and cutlery.

The European Commission came up with a proposal in May to reduce the use of such plastic. Moreover, the European Commission proposes to reduce the use of plastic containers for food and plastic glasses.

If the law is adopted, manufacturers of these products may be obliged to make reimbursements for environmental damage and to inform consumers about how wet wipes, cigarette filters, plastic packaging and plastic bags can affect the environment.

The European Commission can now begin negotiations with European Union member countries on the introduction of this ban.

International Monitoring

Facebook could be fined more than USD 1.6 billion

Facebook could be fined more than USD 1.6 billion for leaking information about more than 50 million users. This fine may become the first large-scale precedent for application of the new European General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR), which came into force on 25 May 2018. The law allows applying either a fixed fine of up to EUR 20 million or a turnover-based fine of up to 4% of a companys total income.

The Data Protection Commission, Ireland, which oversees Facebooks activities in Europe, has already launched an investigation into the case and requested the necessary information from the social network. If the regulator concludes that the company is to blame for data leaks, a fine will be imposed on the latter.

On 28 September Facebook reported vulnerability. It was found in the View As function, which allows the user to see his/her page the way the others see it. This allowed hackers to steal access tokens to accounts, that is, equivalents of digital keys helping users to remain logged in to Facebook and not to enter their password every time. The social network had to reset access tokens for 90 million accounts.

Privatization

Centrenergo privatization terms approved

The Cabinet of Ministers has published the regulations on the terms of sale of the state-owned equity stake in Centrenergo PJSC at a public auction.

According to the regulations, the equity stake consists of 289.2 million shares, which is 78.2% of the companys authorized capital with a nominal value of UAH 375.9 million and starting price of UAH 5.9 billion. The State Property Fund will have to halt bidding if fewer than two participants apply.

After the sale, the Fund is obliged to inform the Government of Ukraine every quarter about the fulfillment of the agreement by the purchaser.

The purchaser of Centrenergo shares is obliged to ensure payment of dividends to the state budget in the amount of 30% of profit based on the results of its financial and operational activities in 2018.

Among the terms, whose fulfillment the purchaser must ensure, in particular, are the following:

protection of PJSC power plants (Vuhlehirska Thermal Power Plant, Zmiyivska TPP, Trypilska TPP) using departmental militarized security on contractual terms;

prevention of accumulation of PJSC overdue debt related to payment of wages to its employees;

maintaining the installed capacity of each PJSC thermal power plant;

introduction of measures for the possible operation of PJSC within ENTSO-E, the energy system of Continental Europe;

presence of guaranteed coal reserves in the warehouses of thermal power plants and of fuel reserves (heavy fuel oil) to ensure operational security of supplies within the unified power system of Ukraine.

Technologies

Visa to integrate Hyperledger blockchain technology

Visa will integrate the development of Hyperledger Fabric before the commercial launch of its own blockchain service for corporate payments in the first quarter of 2019.

Almost two years ago, Visa announced for the first time its blockchain platform, developed jointly with Industry Inc., a blockchain startup, as an alternative solution for the global payment system SWIFT for making large cross-border payments between companies.

The service enables the use of information on a transaction participant, including numbers of profiles and other confidential data. It also has a unique identifier to speed up transactions, which are less exposed to fraud. Basically, cross-border corporate transactions sent via B2B Connect from the source bank are processed directly by the recipient at the beneficiary bank.

The implementation of Hyperledger Fabric functionality into Visas core transactions will help to improve and facilitate financial transactions in a scalable network to ensure smooth cross-border payment process with maximum security, trust and transparency, Visa press material states.

Samsung opens artificial intelligence development center

Samsung has opened another artificial intelligence (AI) development center in Montreal, where one of the fastest growing AI communities in the world is located.

This is Samsungs seventh center for the development of artificial intelligence as a whole and the fourth in North America after Silicon Valley, New York and Toronto. The company unveiled its first AI development center in Seoul in November 2017.

The center in Montreal will focus on the development of applications in areas like machine learning, programming languages, computer vision and multimodal interactions.

Samsung plans to continue developing its virtual assistant Bixby. The company intends to create a personalized platform for multiple devices, which will enable consumers to interact with AI using voice commands, computer vision systems, screen and tapping.

This year, Samsung announced plans to expand its staff of researchers in the field of AI by up to 1,000 people by 2020, when, as expected, all Samsung products and services will have AI.

Real Estate

CMS European Real Estate Deal Point Study 2018

Property investment approaches record levels in sellers market

Good economic factors are helping to drive continued strong growth in the European property market. Investment reached a near record total of EUR 234 billion in 2017, a rise of 7% on the previous years level. In particular, positive developments on the employment market and the favourable mood among consumers inspired confidence in property investors. Sellers again had a strong negotiating position against the backdrop of excess demand on the property investment market and the ongoing lack of alternative investment opportunities, which they were able to use as a tool for agreeing seller-friendly provisions in purchase agreements. These findings are set out in the CMS European Real Estate Deal Point Study 2018.

Rising demand for specialist properties

Office property was the strongest asset category in 2017, accounting for around 40% of transactions. But with excess demand fuelling sharp price rises and depressing yields for office property, investors looked to specialist properties including hotels, serviced apartments, student accommodation and care homes which offer the prospect of higher returns. The demand for logistics properties also rose considerably in 2017. The market share rose from 4% to 14%.

Sellers market reflected in contract trends

Sellers once again enjoyed strong negotiating positions in 2017. This was particularly reflected by an increase in the proportion of seller-friendly liability provisions. More than half of reviewed purchase agreements (56%) contained de minimis clauses limiting liability. Basket clauses which also limit liability were agreed in half of all transactions in 2017 for the first time (in 2010, just 14% of reviewed agreements included a basket clause). At 66%, caps, which specify a contractual maximum liability of the seller, also reached the highest proportion of the review period under review in 2017.

International investors to the fore

This was particularly due to the high activity of investors from the Far East, which saw more foreign than national investors registered as buyers in 2017. This had only been the case once in a review period; back in 2014 buyers were international investors in 53% of all transactions. While national investors led the way in 2015 (53%) and 2016 (66%), international investments accounting for 51% only just retained the upper hand in 2017.

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