Driving through the rain towards brighter economic future of Ukraine

About a month ago, during a Washington round-table on Ukraine hosted by the US-Ukraine Business Council (USUBC), someone asked me what do my colleagues and I expect from the new President of Ukraine and his administration? My answer, which was picked up by the Voice  of America and other publications, was essentially – I have no idea. But since we have been and continue to be bullish on the Ukraine for almost twenty five years, our strategy is to move forward despite the political climates, as we always hope for sunny investment weather, but carry a sturdy umbrella in case it starts to rain.  IMG-1cae7e700ec217303b52f13cd14e1c96-V

Well, it is raining now.  Raining hard and much sooner than expected.

The events of this passed week have created a vicious firestorm with  “Ukraine” being mentioned practically non-stop.  In this post I will not address the politics of the situation, as this has been done by practically every major media outlet in the world ad nauseam. My focus will be on business opportunities and financing tools available to those wishing to invest into the Ukrainian economy, as despite this week’s “torrential downpour” nothing has fundamentally changed to make Ukraine a less attractive place to invest.

First, some basic assumptions under which we have been operating in Ukraine for almost quarter of the century:

  • Massive institutionalized corruption exists in Ukraine and it will probably take two-three generations for it to be rooted out;
  • Ukraine is a very risky place to do business;
  • Many people who accumulated capital in the ’90’s played by the “fast and loose rules” and cut multiple corners;
  • As business in the country evolves, most astute business people understand that by playing by the transparent and well-defined rules set out by the western markets they can unlock the value of their holdings, obtain access to low-cost financing and protect their assets for the generational asset transfer;
  • Ukraine has fantastic potential for economic growth in multiple sectors;
  • Terrific opportunities exist for US, Canadian and European companies to supply goods and services to Ukraine and to bring world-class Ukrainian goods into the Western markets;
  • Ukraine has a superb pool of smart and educated labor force;
  • Country is of a strategic geopolitical importance and will always be a subject of political pressure and outside influence;

Given the above, it is important to take a long view and not be terribly concerned with current politics, because by definition Presidents, Ministers, Ambassadors and Senators change every few years. Once such long-term philosophy is accepted, then it is necessary to construct one’s proverbial umbrella. Namely, risk mitigation, corruption resistant mechanisms must be incorporated into one’s approach to doing business in the country.  What this means in practice is the following:

  • Targeting for investment and financing primarily those sectors where corruption is either low or  non-existent. From our standpoint exports of Ukrainian natural foodstuffs, renewable energy, electro-transport production, IT, nuclear waste containment are some of those.
  • Utilizing US Government financing tools, such as those offered by OPIC and US-EXIM  Having these tools part of a business transaction not only provides low-cost, long-term financing, which improves economics of practically any project, but having government-backed financing in a deal, also improves quality of due diligence and acts as fantastic corruption deterrent and protection for investors.
  • Obtaining political risk, trade credit, or breach of contract insurance for every significant deal or trade transaction. US  Government and certain well-rated global  insurance companies offer protection to investors from such perils as expropriation, creeping expropriation, currency  inconvertibility, non-payment for goods supplied, or services rendered and for breach of contract.  Such insurance is not terribly expensive, but  de rigueur for anyone looking to invest into the Ukraine, or into any  foreign market, for that matter.
  • Creation of a so-called Grey2White® program to allow investment where original capital, or business formation had murky roots, but can be fully re-mediated with application of strict compliance procedures, financial restructuring and accounting oversight.20160523_094104
  • Finally, despite of the current rainy weather, we are moving hard to add one more extremely effective tool, which has been missing in Ukraine’s economic development. Creating a safe umbrella for individual American-Ukrainian, Canadian-Ukrainian and members of Ukrainian diasporas in other countries to invest into the future of Ukraine.

What this means is a focused investment platform listed on a stock exchange and subject to a recognized US, or Canadian authority such as Securities Exchange Commission (USA), or Canadian Securities Administration (CSA). Such platform would will further be secured by protection of the political risk insurance and will, for the first time since Ukraine’s independence, allow individual investors with as little as $500! to invest,  to participate in Ukraine’s economic development, while having the umbrella of protection of the western laws, rules and regulations.  We call this platform “Develop UA”™ and expect to formally roll it out to the world in the middle of October, 2019 regardless of whether it is raining, or sunshine in Kyiv and Washington, DC.

relevant links

http://www.usubc.org/site/recent-news/doing-business-in-ukraine-now–usubc-roundtable-in-washington

https://ukrainian.voanews.com/a/amerykanksy-biznes-ukrayina/5051657.html

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World Affairs Councils of America Welcomes Broad Street Capital Group as National Affiliate Member and Sponsor

Washington, DC, May 14, 2019 — The World Affairs Councils of America (WACA) is pleased to announce that Broad Street Capital Group (www.broadstreetcap.com) has joined WACA as a National Affiliate Member, sponsor of the WACA National Conference, and member of its prestigious 1918 Society.

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Broad Street’s expertise in advising on foreign direct investment (FDI) strategies in emerging and frontier market countries and WACA’s ability to convene foreign government leaders and influential audiences through its extensive network of more than 90 World Affairs Councils across the United States will provide a powerful platform for U.S. companies targeting investment opportunities and seeking policy and regulatory knowledge in these markets.

Broad Street will tap the WACA platform to conduct a national tour to educate potential U.S. investors on available U.S. Government financing options, as well as political and trade risk mitigation tools. WACA will assist Broad Street in organizing bilateral trade missions and curated foreign policy tours to highlight economic advantages of the target markets and to facilitate trade and investment opportunities.

“It is an honor and a privilege to become WACA’s newest National Member,” said Alexander Gordin, co-founder and Managing Director of the Broad Street Capital Group.  “My colleagues and I look forward to helping this prestigious 100-year old national organization to grow into the next century of its existence.  Foreign direct investment is an essential  part of sound foreign policy for any nation and having such an esteemed partnership with the WACA network’s convening power on this issue, would definitely bring significant measurable results.”

“WACA is delighted to collaborate with Broad Street and we look forward to inviting leading investors and representatives of foreign investment agencies as guests of the Broad Street Capital Group at WACA’s 2019 National Conference in Washington, DC,” said Bill Clifford, President and CEO of the World Affairs Councils of America.

Scheduled for November 6-8 at the Mayflower Hotel in DC, the WACA Conference will feature more than 50 leaders and policy experts on the theme: “The 8 Forces Reshaping the Global Economy.”

About the Broad Street Capital Group

Based in the heart of New York City’s Financial District, Broad Street Capital Group (www.broadstreetcapital.com) 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. Through its member companies, the Group focuses on developing project financing in the $100 million to $1 billion range, providing political risk mitigation, export management services and cross-border market development advisory. The Firm maintains a permanent presence in London, Budapest, Kyiv, Tashkent, and  Astana, .  Since its founding, Broad Street Capital Group has done business in over 35 countries, spanning the emerging markets landscape from Bangladesh to Ukraine.

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 multiple high-profile cross-border transactions in IT/telecom, aerospace, health care, energy generation, food security, nuclear safety, hospitality and franchising sectors. The firm’s current advisory and export management portfolio exceeds $900 million.

About the World Affairs Councils of America

The World Affairs Councils of America (www.worldaffairscouncils.org) is an independent, nonpartisan organization dedicated to engaging the public and leading global voices to better understand the world, America’s international role, and the policy choices that impact our daily lives and our future. WACA carries out its mission by:

  • Supporting more than 90 World Affairs Councils across the United States and promoting programs and educational initiatives for diverse local audiences – from classrooms to C-suites, from town-hall style community forums to conferences in the nation’s capital.
  • Developing Councils’ convening power nationwide by providing face-to-face connections and dialogue with global leaders, business executives, policy and trade experts, ​social innovators, and distinguished opinion makers.
  • Partnering with organizations that seek to reach out to “grassroots” and “grasstops” citizens, disseminate research, mutually expand networks and transform how people, enterprises, and governments think about the world.
  • Challenging the next generation to develop leadership skills and global acumen so that our communities can better compete, collaborate, and make informed decisions.

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