Grey2White Initiative

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(Article Reprinted by Popular Demand)

Hypothesis:

Given Ukraine’s current economic and geopolitical situation, one of the most beneficial  steps the US government, business and NGO community can take, is to encourage significant external and internal direct investment into the country’s economy.

Although the US Government has had some success in attracting and supporting American direct investment into Ukraine, those investment amounts are far from sufficient. US investors new to the Ukrainian market are wary of the country’s reputation for corruption, difficulty in doing business, threats from Russia and lack of financing options.

A second and much more viable economic development option, would be to support and enable direct investment by the successful Ukrainian business people who have amassed sufficient capital and are much more comfortable and adept in investing in their home market.

One problem with pursuing that option are high Western standards, which often preclude US government development agencies and public US investors from working with this potential class of investors.  This is due to the fact that for the last twenty-five years, practically all business people in Ukraine had to operate under a certain set of conditions widely considered “grey” and in many cases “black” in the West.

Some of these “grey” conditions are lack of financial transparency, inadequate corporate governance, use of yellow press, use of cash, as well as offshore accounts to conduct operations, bribery and use of adverse political influence.

In their attempts to succeed, some folks in Ukraine went beyond previously acceptable business norms and crossed the proverbial line even further by engaging in criminal “black” behavior – graft, extortion, corruption, tender rigging and illicit drug trade.

To date, these grey conditions have presented significant challenges for the IFIs, development agencies and regulated financial US investors. Yet, it is vital to recognize the necessity to find an acceptable solution that allows Ukraine’s economy to reap significant benefits from the anticipated increase in direct investment and low-cost, long-term financing.

It is also very important to understand that the proposed Grey2White (G2W) initiative aims to broaden and scale up very important development and capacity building work already undertaken over the last quarter century by IFIs, such as IFC and EBRD, USAID; development agencies such as OPIC and USTDA and financial investment communities. Those initial efforts, although quite effective, focused on a relatively small sample of Ukrainian companies and were undertaken during a different stage of the country’s development.

Initiative

The G2W initiative will only work with those companies and individuals, who will be able to create meaningful economic impact in Ukraine, after undergoing the conversion process.  G2W will not in any way target those convicted of the “black” behavior, as their reputation gap is un-bridgeable within the scope of the project.

Thus the question becomes, is it possible for US stakeholders to create an environment and a broad platform from which so-called “grey” Ukrainian businessmen seeking to utilize US financing, equipment, services and franchises, as part of their major investment programs, become “bankable” under Western standards? If the answer is “Yes.”This type of conversion will provide hundreds of millions, if not billions of dollars in direct economic benefit and enhanced geopolitical security to Ukraine and the US.

If the answer is “No,” these businessmen will either be forced to forgo the planned capital investments, or seek alliances with other grey, or black global actors in countries like Russia, China, Brazil, Iran, etc.

It is the fundamental belief by the creators of the proposed initiative that given a concerted effort by the US and Ukrainian stakeholders to develop and implement realistic procedures to increase corporate transparency, introduce financial standards, address any existing reputation issues head-on and provide reputable outside management and board oversight, it is possible within short to medium time-frames to bring these so called “grey” businessmen and their respective projects up to elevated western standards, mitigate investment and reputation risks and affect substantial economic growth in Ukraine.

Thus we hereby propose the following:

Select three-four financially viable projects sponsored  the “grey” Ukrainian actors and use them as a pilot to develop, refine and implement an effective conversion strategy to bring that project up to acceptable Western standards.

From the government side, we propose to involve the US Commercial Service, USTR, US Embassy, Ukrainian Embassy, Cabinet of Ministers of UA, members of the US Congress focused on UA issues, OPIC, regional Governors and local administrations in Ukraine, IFC, USTDA and the US EXIM Bank (when that Agency resumes its activities in Ukraine).

Among the NGO stakeholders we would like to see US-Ukraine Business Council (USBC), AMCHAM, Transparency International, Freedom House, Atlantic Council and US Ukraine Foundation. Additionally, reputable international law firms, audit firms, press, appropriate private individuals, corporate off-takers, financial market regulators, as well as relevant providers of US goods and services should be involved.

The framework of the proposed initiative shall be as follows:

  • Initial Sponsor/Project assessment and preliminary due diligence
  • Project selection and stakeholder awareness and involvement
  • Project G2W Team building (attys., directors, advisers, auditors, suppliers, investors etc.)
  • Full due diligence and implementation plan for the Western financial, FCPA and governance standards
  • Investor cultivation and underwriting of the financing package
  • Project development and implementation
  • Monitoring and compliance

To kick off the proposed initiative, we propose an intensive education and awareness-building campaign designed to simultaneously involve all the stakeholders.

After the initial buy-in into the initiative is secured, work will begin on developing the pilot projects.

During the pilot project phase, the G2W pilot project team will be seeking to achieve specific and tangible goals:

  • Fully assess the existing reputation risks, possible political influence issues, suitability for OPIC/IFC financing and Political Risk Insurance for the US project participants
  • Prepare a legal due diligence report by a world-class law firm
  • Recruit highly reputable and competent outside board members to the Project’s Board
  • Design a comprehensive PR/IR strategy to inform stakeholders of the project and its ongoing developments
  • Design and implement transparent financial audit, reporting and management accountability standards
  • Develop ways to tangibly measure economic effect of the pilot project
  • Continue to promote the initiative and seek to move it from the pilot project phase to full-blown implementation.

(to be continued)

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Broad Street Capital Group’s new assignments in Ukraine total over $300 million

Ukraine - Proprietary Fi180 Country Profile - page 1 of 4(June 15th, 2016, London, UK)  Broad Street Capital Group announced today that it will act as the Financial Developer and Exclusive Financial Adviser on two complex, high-profile financing assignments in Ukraine. The underlying projects for these assignments deal with Ukraine’s energy security, food security and infrastructure development.

In the first assignment, Broad Street Capital Group , will serve as the Project’s Financial  Developer, and will be part of a mandated financing consortium, which will consist of a major banking institution, a Development Agency of the US Government, a US lending trust and an internationally renowned law firm.  The financing consortium will evaluate and structure a cutting-edge $250 million capital markets transaction to finance US supply and construction contract to build a national energy safety facility to be located in the Kyiv region of Ukraine.

In the second assignment, Broad Street Capital Group will serve as the exclusive Financial Adviser, whose role will be to secure up to $75 million in long-term debt financing, provided by a development agency of the US Government.  The funding will be part of the financing required to develop and construct a major grain terminal in the Odessa region of Ukraine.

“We are delighted to serve as financiers for these two cutting-edge projects” stated Alexander M. Gordin, managing director of Broad Street Capital Group. “Our assignments should serve as catalysts and spark broad-based financing of worthy infrastructure projects. The financing climate in Ukraine has been extremely challenging over the last few years, but despite continued difficulties, the prognosis is quite optimistic. We look forward to being part of Ukrainian financial renaissance, as that country rebuilds itself and finds a way to regain its economic footing.”

 

About Broad Street Capital GroupWP_20130620_022

Based in the World Trade Center’s Freedom Tower in New York City’s financial district, Broad Street Capital Group is an international private merchant bank, which since 1988 has served several foreign governments, multiple state-owned companies, as well as SMEs in emerging markets. The Firm focuses on arranging project financing in the $50-500 million range, providing political risk mitigation, export management services and cross-border market development advisory. Although the Firm has clients ranging from Bangladesh to Oklahoma, its primarily geographic focus is on the countries of Eastern and Central Europe and Central Asia.

The  firm works closely with all trade and development agencies of the U.S. Government and Export Credit Agencies of several European and North American countries.  Since its inception, Broad Street Capital Group has been involved in several high-profile cross-border transactions in IT/telecom, aerospace, healthcare,  energy generation, food security, nuclear safety, hospitality and franchising sectors. The firm’s current advisory portfolio exceeds $675 million.  For more information, please visit www.broadstreetcap.com, or contact Rustem Tursynov at info@broadstreetcap.comBroadStreetCapitalGroupServices_Page_1

Seasons Greetings and Best Wishes in the New Year!

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Another Pot Calling the Kettle Black, and Damaging US Economy In The Process

Another little-known, but very important and effective federal agency is under attack by the tea party pit bulls serving the interests of their corporate masters. After trying to bring down US EXIM Bank, spending massive federal resources and creating a half a billion dollar hole in the US annual budget, these clowns (there is no other word to use here) are targeting OPIC – Overseas Private Investment Corporation – a federal trade and development agency.  This agency uses full backing of the US Government, not only to protect and finance  US investors investing into high-risk markets abroad from perils like expropriation, nationalization and currency inconvertibility, but also is completely self-funding and contributes billions to the US Treasury.

As someone who had over a decade of experience working closely with OPIC, I can certainly attest to the fact the it is one of the most professionally run agencies in the Government. It is small, lean and provides terrific tools to both small and large businesses, which are investing overseas. It runs microfinance investment, provides help in war-torn, or earthquake effected countries (Georgia, Haiti, Afghanistan, Ukraine are just some examples) and helps promote US economic and foreign policies by helping major US franchises including Marriott, Ritz Carlton etc. to set up their brands and improve their presence in far corners of the world.

It is very ironic, that people pointing the finger at these agencies, as being tools of corporate  welfare, are themselves instruments of corporate interests and cronyism. The junior who wrote the article below, is not only poorly informed about OPIC and its role in our country’s foreign policy, but is a glaring example of a patsy, whom certain US airlines and corporations run by two very wealthy brothers use to further their own interests at the expense of not only American taxpayers, but the entire US economy.

OPIC: Corporate Welfare by Any Other Name

The winds of change might finally be blowing in Washington. For the first time in 81 years taxpayers are no longer dolling out dollars on risky loans to subsidize big businesses and foreign corporations, thanks to the expiration of the controversial Export-Import Bank. While this represents a victory for the taxpayers over well-funded special interests, there remains an alphabet soup of government bureaucracies that continues to dispense taxpayer goodies to those with political connections and clout.

OPIC (Overseas Private Investment Corporation) despite what the name implies, is not private but rather a taxpayer-backed outfit that provides subsidies for American businesses who invest overseas. The government provides loan guarantees as well as direct loans to American companies in emerging markets. By doing so OPIC shifts the risk of these ventures off the companies and straight to the taxpayers. Sound familiar?

The bad news is that, like the Export-Import Bank, this creature of Washington has been around for decades and has survived by free riding on legislation with broad bipartisan support to escape scrutiny. The good news is that bringing previously unknown organs of the federal government out into the open has proven to be an effective way to make these outdated and unpopular agencies a thing of the past – something we have seen recently in the fight over the little-known Export-Import Bank.

Put another way, the more everyday Americans witness how their hard earned money is being spent by unaccountable bureaucrats in Washington, the louder the cries to Congress to let corporate welfare expire.

Some of the most egregious examples of OPIC funded projects include $50 million for a Ritz-Carlton luxury hotel in Istanbul, $150 million for Citibank to open up three overseas branches and even a loan that defaulted on an Enron operated power plant. Not exactly the best use of taxpayer dollars.

These sweetheart deals represent the worst of Washington, influential corporate interests finding obscure government agencies to pad their bottom line, while taxpayers assume the risks.

Fortunately, like the previously mentioned Export-Import Bank, OPIC’s authorization is set to expire in September. And like Ex-Im, lawmakers should take that opportunity to send this antiquated agency packing.

As we saw recently in the tug-of-war over the Export-Import bank, this will be an uphill battle, but it is a battle than can be won. A strong anti-cronyism movement across the country has buoyed the efforts of leaders committed to breaking up the cozy relationship between big business and big government that too often thrives in Washington. It is a chance to capitalize on the momentum of recent policy victories, and notch another win for taxpayers. Lawmakers should seize it.

As Milton Friedman wrote in 1996 “”I cannot see any redeeming aspect in the existence of OPIC. It is special interest legislation of the worst kind, legislation that makes the problem it is intended to deal with worse rather than better. …OPIC has no business existing.” It seems Washington might finally be catching up with Friedman’s wisdom, but now it’s time to follow through.

Export Champions!™ With help of cutting-edge financing, four small and mid-size US companies are poised to export over $525 million of goods and services!

With the help of cutting edge financing, four small and mid-size US companies are poised to export over $525 million in just three individual transactions! 

Fi3E Badge(April 23, 2015, Washington, DC) During US EXIM Bank’s Annual Conference, Export Champions!™, a new program, which allows small and mid-size US manufacturing companies to vastly boost their export sales by utilizing cutting-edge export credit and capital markets financing for international opportunities, was announced by the Broad Street Capital Group.

Using actual case studies of the three US companies, whose export revenues from just three projects total over $525 million, as the result of their foresight to deploy financing techniques traditionally reserved for large companies and mega projects,  Broad Street Capital Group and representatives of various US Government and private trade and project financing institutions, will empower other US small and midsize companies to successfully compete for large export business opportunities.

“Today, we are witnessing a paradigm shift in the way US small and mid-size companies are able take advantage of sales opportunities, which are two or three times their annual revenue.” said Alexander Gordin, Managing Director of the Broad Street Capital Group. “The key, is a carefully structured project, which is developed with specific long-term, low-cost financing solution in mind from the beginning” said Gordin.

The Export Champions! program will offer monthly half-day web based programs and live training events to help companies learn:

  • which foreign markets and buyers to target,
  • how to correctly develop a financeable transaction,
  • which financing tools and programs to utilize,
  • how to put together a correct team of advisers,
  • utilizing external economic and political factors to gain an advantage,
  • how to mitigate risks along the entire transaction life cycle

The first Export Champions! event to take place in New York on May 8th.  Companies seeking to boost their international sales opportunities should send their inquiries to info@broadstreetcap.com , or call  + 1 212 705 8765 ext 702

About Broad Street Capital Group

Based in the heart of the New York City, Broad Street Capital Group is an international private merchant bank with extensive experience in developing and financing exports and infrastructure projects in emerging markets. The firm works closely with a number of international Export Credit Agencies, as well as with all trade and development agencies of the U.S. Government.   For over 25 years, Broad Street Capital Group has successfully served a broad array of private and state-owned clients in multiple countries and has been involved in several high-profile cross-border transactions in energy, IT/telecom, aerospace, healthcare, hospitality and franchising sectors. The firm’s hallmark is its proprietary Develop, Finance, Supply and Insure™ approach to help clients achieve their international business goals For more information, please visit www.broadstreetcap.com

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Maintaining Export Advantage in the Face of a Rising Dollar: Part 2

The path to becoming competitive in the international export space.In my previous post, I outlined the first two steps of the five-step framework that would enable U.S. exporters to maintain their competitive edge in the face of rising U.S. dollar, which makes all U.S. goods and services more expensive abroad. Those first steps were to recommit to exports and expand markets served.

Below, I describe the remaining three steps: READ MORE

How One Burger Chain Profits From Turmoil Abroad

By , Businessweek.com


A Fatburger outlet in Karachi, Pakistan

Photograph by Rizwan Tabassum/AFP via Getty Images A Fatburger outlet in Karachi, Pakistan

Political protests, disease outbreaks, terrorist campaigns—U.S. business owners considering expanding internationally would be forgiven for deciding to stay at home. But name a tumultuous spot abroad—Hong Kong, Iraq, Egypt—and Andy Wiederhorn has probably opened a burger shop there in the past seven years.

Wiederhorn has taken his Los Angeles-based franchise, Fatburger, from a struggling also-ran to a $125 million company by opening in 32 countries since 2007. He has 200 international locations now and an additional 350 in development, including in places rocked by unrest, such as Tunisia and Libya. Despite the advances of Islamic State, a second store in Iraq is also in the works.

“Consumers all over the world love American brands, especially burgers, shakes, and fries,” he says. Facing increasing competition from other specialty burger brands at home, “I knew there was a huge opportunity for us overseas,” he says. Wiederhorn began Fatburger’s global expansion after serving a stint in prison a decade ago, having pleaded guilty to charges related to paying an illegal gratuity and filing a false tax return in a financial scandal at his previous company.FI3Indices

Fatburger is unusual in its adventures abroad: Less than 1 percent of America’s 30 million companies regularly export, according to the U.S. Commercial Service, a percentage that’s significantly lower than in all other developed countries. And of the American businesses that do export, most sell to just one other country. That’s a major missed opportunity, considering that more than 70 percent of the world’s purchasing power is located outside the U.S.

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So how do small and midsize companies venture beyond their own backyards and into parts of the world that may be challenging?  

[ A great place to start is with a Fluent In Foreign Company Profiles, that feature Fi3F indices™ rating attractiveness of 180 markets for franchisors seeking to expand. 

                                                                                READ MORE

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Develop, Finance, Supply & Insure Your Way to International Business Success

Develop, Finance, Supply & Insure,
Are services offered by Broad Street each day.
 In crossing the borders, the headaches we cure,
     For clients who risk, we hold danger at bay
———— 
The deals are global, the problems are massive,
A shepherd is needed to guide business along,
We highlight the issues, and structure financing,
We help sellers export and their buyers grow strong
————- 
We’re Fluent In Foreign and help grow the business
For those who seek to franchise, or invest,
Until they succeed we patrol cross the borders,
Until YOU succeed, our Team shall not rest
————- 
So as you get settled and learn all about
The business of projects, and exports and risk.
Remember to smile, as there is no cure 
From catching the bug called “Global Deals Disease”
————– 
And once you are ready to venture to strange lands,
There is only one thing you can count on for sure,
We are here for you and there is no one better,
When you need to Develop, Finance, Supply & Insure
http://www.broadstreetcap.com
 
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In these trying times a “Do It Yourself” approach to export financing is fraught with peril

1308 pose 9Financing large complex export projects and transactions through Export Credit Agencies, such as the US Ex-Im Bank, is difficult at best and impossible at worst.  Hundreds of moving parts, byzantine structures, political considerations, legal quagmire, shipping and logistics challenges, along with financial considerations, extensive due diligence, host country laws, licensing and public relations are just a few of the factors involved in this year-plus long process. Add to that geopolitical risks a la Ukraine, Russia, or Iraq and the process can befuddle even the most sophisticated practitioners. Thus it is vital to have a highly experienced team of financiers, lawyers, shippers, technical specialists and ECA compliance folks to work with committed exporters and buyers in order to develop and nurture such transactions to success.

Yet oftentimes in their desire to either save money, or driven by false sense of familiarity with the process, the exporter clients prefer to undertake what I call a “home depot” do-it-yourself approach to ECA financing.  During times of relative geopolitical normalcy this approach primarily works for those companies that have extensive experience dealing with ECAs in structuring complex export transactions. During times of political instability such approach is certainly doomed for all novices .

Although there are multiple players in the export finance industry and they range from the largest global banks, law firms and shipping companies, to small brokerage firms and advisors of different stripes; the world of export finance is fairly small with all players of substance knowing each other well and for many years.  For a newcomer exporter venturing into this world, the complexity of the process and the capabilities of the players are not well-known and oftentimes they are misled and misguided.  Thus after taking a hard look in the mirror and forgoing a do-it-yourself approach to complex export financing, the next step any company should take is to really understand the workings of the export finance industry, capabilities of the players, and the importance of an integrated approach of putting together a complete finance, legal, compliance and logistics team early on.

Selection of the financial advisor should not be based on the name alone, but on that advisor’s experience in the target market to be served by the exporter, his or her experience in handling complex transactions and the ability to add value to the process. Good advisors will oftentimes save the exporter such large sums during the structuring and implementation of the process, that their fees pale in comparison.  Once the advisor is selected, the exporter should let him or her invite the other team players into the process. There is a big difference between the exporter being totally committed to the process and working very hard to assist the advisors by supplying the needed information in the timely manner, helping to obtain necessary licenses, interfacing with the buyer etc and having the exporter venture into the process on his/her own. The first approach will lead to the successful financing and the latter will certainly lead to a painful and expensive failure.Fi3E Badge

Broad Street Capital Group announces major expansion campaign

Broad Street Capital Group announces major

expansion campaign to meet surging demand for

its ExportBoost™ program.

18 Merchant Banking Offices to open in multiple countries

in the next 18 Months

 

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