Kernel Holding SA, Ukraine’s largest producer and exporter of sunflower oil, announced on 20 February that it had acquired a 5.85% interest in ViOil Holding Ltd, which operates two multi-seed oil extraction plants with a crushing capacity of 1.1M tonnes/year.
The ViOil industrial group processes sunflowerseed, rapeseed, soyabean and flaxseed into oil and meal, and also provides storage and marketing services for oilseeds and grain crops, exporting its products to more than 60 countries, including CIS, EU and Southeast Asian states, according to its website. It operates 13 elevators with a total capacity of 360,000 tonnes. The group has also developed the railway infrastructure of Vinnitsa OFP to reduce logistics costs and is currently the leader in shipment of vegetable oils from Ukraine by flexi-containers.
More recently, on 19 February, Kernel also announced that it had acquired Rail Transit Kargo Ukraine (RTK-Ukraine) for US$64M.
The purchase gives Kernel access to 2,949 grain railcars, which accounts for nearly 15% of the market, making it the second largest grain hopper wagon fleet operator in Ukraine after the state monopoly Ukrainian Railways.
“The acquisition will ensure the smooth and efficient flow of grains and oilseeds from inland silos to ports as the company’s export volumes increase following the commissioning of the TransGrain Terminal in the port of Chornomorsk,” Kernel said.
On 28 January, Kernel also announced that it has joined the Ukrainian Network of Integrity and Compliance (UNIC), an initiative for businesses that aim to work ethically and responsibly.
“Kernel confidently challenges stereotypes about the impossibility to run both an efficient and honest business in Ukraine.”
The company said it had started preparing to join UNIC in 2015, when the Corporate Code of Conduct was approved and the Conflict of Interest and Counteracting Fraud and Corruption Policy (CICFCP) was introduced to Kernel. Since 2017, measures had also been taken to address the compliance programme, which was updated in 2018 in terms of anti-corruption controls.
“Counteracting corruption is a long-term systematic process Kernel spends much time on,” said Olena Dubovska, Kernel’s compliance manager. “Being one of the leaders in the agrarian sector, Kernel is not only an example to other market participants but also assumes responsibility of transforming outdated anti-corruption approaches into effective rules of fair play.”