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Published: 1 August 2009
NCC slams Ilyichevsk port authority
Russia's National Container Company (NCC) has accused the port administration of pursuing "personal ambitions rather than the principal interests of the State of Ukraine”
At a specially-convened press conference in Kiev, hosted by NCC's president Alyona Ashurkova and Eurogate Board Member Gunther Bonz, NCC accused the port administration of blocking the company's efforts to continue the development of the container terminal, where it operates through its local affiliate Ukrtranscontainer (UTC). NCC has a US$500M project to develop a state-of-the-art container terminal at the port, but in June it was put on hold by the port.
According to Mrs Ashurkova, the port itself controls 88.4 % of existing berth line and UTC the remaining 11.6%. "This simple comparison shows that port cannot run its premises in an efficient way," she said. "Out of 100% of annually posted consolidated earnings, 80% is contributed by NCC and only 20% is made by the port itself. In other words, using seven times less of berth line NCC ensures fourfold higher earnings."
NCC added that the port's berth productivity is below any reasonable level, not to mention international standards. "The concept of customer service is not on their list of priorities and appears to be beyond their level of comprehension.”
Ashurkova claims that the seaport administration has been pursuing a plan to oust NCC from the port as the Russian investor is a hurdle for the port’s bosses seeking to implement their own schemes.
"That is why they used all the powers at their disposal (including barely legal ones) to win a fabricated lawsuit at the Odessa Arbitration Court that has ruled the agreement [dating from 2005] between the port and NCC null and void in late June. After this, NCC filed a cassation with the Kiev High Court of Appeal." *
Her statement contains a very strongly worded personal attack on the general director of the port, Gennadiy Skvortsov.
As for Eurogate, NCC's strategic partner, Gunther Bonz said: “What is happening with NCC assets in Ukraine today is really alarming and presents a serious concern to our company. NCC has a proven record of successful projects and a good name within the international shipping community.
"My colleagues and I, as well as our German competitors operating in Odessa [HPC Ukraina] are closely monitoring this unfortunate situation. In our view, multimillion private investors in government projects deserve a better attitude and their contributions to the growth of the seaport industry have to be respected and protected. Otherwise this will not help the country at all in attracting international financing.”
Ukraine's Prime Minister Mrs Yulia Timoshenko is being lobbied to take this case under her personal control to protect NCC’s reputation and secure further implementation of the long-term contract with the port.
* The verdict by the Odessa Court of Appeal denouncing the Joint Cooperation Agreement between the port and NCC was suspended by the Kiev High Court of Appeal on July 23. The new hearing in Kiev is scheduled for August 26.