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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Getting Ukraine to become Fluent in EXIM.

How can US Exporters increase their exports to Ukraine and what do the latest developments mean for US EXIM programs there?

Featured Image -- 4182  Since the original Fluent In EXIM post was published on February 11th, several important events took place, which potentially may have an effect on how exports to Ukraine are financed by the Export Import Bank of the United States (US EXIM).

  • New President of Ukraine was inaugurated a few days ago, potentially putting the country on a different political course.
  • New, closer, date has been set for the elections of People’s Deputies into Ukrainian Rada
  • US Congress confirmed three new Board members thus opening the  way for US EXIM to finance  projects over $10 million with a duration of financing  longer than seven years

Although not on the same level of importance as the above events, in March, in partnership with the US Ukraine Business Council (USUBC), our Firm held a financing workshop in Washington DC to help participants learn about available government financing programs, with the US EXIM  representative and its authorized broker prominently prominently featured on the agenda.  We have also received numerous EXIM financing inquiries from Ukraine, particularly in the areas of agriculture, renewable energy, transportation and healthcare. A second workshop for USUBC members and invited guests will take  place in Lviv later this month.

In this post, we will examine what, if any, effect these changes shall have on the US EXIM’s programs currently in place for that country. We will  also look at the ways Ukrainian importers and US exporters can best take advantage of these programs.

Currently, US EXIM is only open in Ukraine for short (financing of trade up to one year) and medium-term (financing of $10 million per project up  to seven years)  programs. Thus reopening the US EXIM for the long-term programs will not have any effect on Ukrainian export transactions.

Election of  the new President and upcoming Rada elections also are  not expected to  affect the US EXIM programs for the foreseeable future.

Yet despite the absence of the long-term programs, US EXIM bank remains an effective tool for US exporters wishing to export goods and services to Ukraine. Under its short-term program, the Bank will insure against buyer non-payment and political risks up to 95 percent of the foreign receivables’ invoice value, thus allowing exporters to safely extend open account terms to foreign buyers (both private and  government) for periods up to one year, with 90-day, 120-day terms being most prevalent.  This is done by putting in place either a Single Buyer, or Multi-Buyer credit insurance by the exporter and then qualifying and insuring individual importers under these policies. Depending on the policy limits sought, EXIM employs different underwriting standards and requires increasingly deeper credit checks and financial documentation.IMG-1cae7e700ec217303b52f13cd14e1c96-V

Most qualified US exports, other than sales to of alcohol, tobacco and adult content, as well as sales to foreign military, may be insured; even equipment and services related to nuclear industry.  In Ukraine, larger private transactions will require a repayment guarantee from one  of the  five or so top banks and on the government side a sovereign guarantee is needed. Since it is almost impossible to obtain a UA government’s guarantee for smaller transaction amounts, the US exporters should focus selling their wares to the private sector.   The credit insurance may be obtained either from the Bank directly, or at no additional cost, through a cadre of US EXIM approved insurance brokers whose list is found on the exim.gov site.

Under its medium term programs, US EXIM can cover up to 85 percent of qualified US exports, including eligible freight and duty costs. As mentioned above, financing limit is $10 million per distinct transaction, and repayment terms of up to seven years apply.  For projects, which require local construction or installation (ex solar farms, grain silos), up to 30 percent of the financed amount maybe used to cover local costs performed by Ukrainian companies.

Depending on the project, repayment of the financing may be structured as interest only for up to two  years, with the balance of principal and interest paid out evenly over the remainder of the loan term.  Services such as engineering, architecture, design, legal and financial, all may be financed under this program.

Although US EXIM can lend funds directly at what is commonly known as a CIRR  rate, more often it  issues a its AAA rated guarantee and the exporters then approach an approved bank to secure financing rates, which are  usually more advantageous, as they are based on LIBOR and can either be variable, or fixed depending on the borrower’s preference.  Underwriting requirements of bank guarantee  for the private transactions, or sovereign guarantee for government purchases also apply. Many borrowers choose to finance the remaining 15% percent through those same  local banks  thus effectively securing 100% financing for their projects.

Since the process of securing financing and insurance coverage  through any government agency, or an international financial institution is quite complex, we always recommend  that clients engage a qualified and experienced financial adviser and a very competent law firm with extensive experience working with the US EXIM Bank.

To get more information on the upcoming Fluent In EXIM workshop in Ukraine, please  contact MorganWilliams at mwilliams@usubc.org

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Lots of financing options, yet modest results

How to successfully develop and finance more quality projects in emerging markets?  (Part 1)

Problem:

Last week, at a financing round-table organized by the US-Ukraine Business Council (USUBC) – representatives from the IFC, EBRD, OPIC and US EXIM bank reaffirmed their commitment to financing projects and trade with Ukraine.  They also demonstrated a whole host of very effective financing and insurance tools, available for use in Ukraine and other emerging markets.

At the same event, these esteemed organizations mentioned multiple success stories and yet each only named half a dozen, or so, of the largest Ukrainian companies (a few were the same names repeated by several institutions).  They also addressed fairly effective wholesale funding arrangements with local banks to serve local small and midsize businesses (SMEs).

Yet, each of representatives has acknowledged a serious problem, which acutely manifests itself in Ukraine and in other emerging markets: lack of strong bankable projects in the $10-75 mil. range, a segment widely considered the main economic driver and job generator in emerging market countries such as Ukraine.Fi3E Badge

Also noted were lack well-developed and bankable public sector projects in segments such as healthcare.

Thus given widespread availability of interested project sponsors, along with multiple public financing tools and risk mitigation products, what can be done to bridge the gap and convert more deal concepts into real deals with realistic financing and true economic impact?

Solution:

It is all about proper packaging.   Although the institutions are willing and able to lend,  they each have very specific goals and requirements.  Yet, the project sponsors/borrowers, oftentimes are not able to conform to those requirements, despite the fact that their financials and business plans are often sound.   (To Be Continued)

Financing projects in Ukraine – USUBC round-table announcement

INVITE:  “FINANCING FOR BUSINESS” – US EXIM OPEN FOR UKRAINE, EBRD, OPIC ROUND-TABLE IMG-1cae7e700ec217303b52f13cd14e1c96-V

               Tuesday, March 12, 2019, 3 p.m to 5 p.m. Law Offices of McCarter & English,   
1301 K St., NW, Suite 1000 West Tower, Washington DC 20005

INVITATION: The U.S.-Ukraine Business Council (USUBC), www.USUBC.org, invites you to attend a “FINANCING FOR BUSINESS – US EXIM OPEN FOR UKRAINE, EBRD, OPIC ROUND-TABLE, on Tuesday, March 12, 2019, from 3 p.m. to 5 p.m., with a light reception, in the offices of USUBC member, McCarter & English, 1301 K St., NW, Suite 1000 West (10th Floor), Washington, DC 20005.  The following panel of experts will make presentations followed by a discussion/Q&A session.

PROGRAM: PANELISTS FOR THE ‘FINANCING FOR BUSINESS’ ROUND-TABLE INCLUDE:

(1)  Douglas Frye, Senior Business Development and Loan Officer, Global Infrastructure, Export-Import Bank of the United States (EXIM)
          (2)  Alexander Gordin, Managing Director, Broad Street Capital Group, merchant bankers, specialist in US EXIM & OPIC type project transactions
(3)  Bruce Drossman, Senior Vice President, Global ECA Advisory and Execution, General Electric, GE Energy Financial Services/Global Capital Advisory (with US EXIM for four years)
(4)  Michelle Small, Head of North American Representative Office, European Bank for Reconstruction and Development (EBRD)
          (5)  Kenneth Angell, Managing Director, Project Finance & Tara Blake, Director, International Project Finance, Overseas Private Investment Corporation (OPIC) 
          (6)  John Strayhorn, President, Global Insurance Services, EXIM approved insurance broker
(7)  Morgan Williams, President, U.S.-Ukraine Business Council (USUBC), Moderator

RSVP:  Registration is required for attendance at the USUBC Financing for Business Roundtable. Please register by sending an e-mail to mwilliams@usubc.org. There is no charge for the meeting. Photo ID is required. USUBC thanks McCarter & English law firm, a new member of USUBC, for hosting the USUBC Business Luncheon in Washington.

“FINANCING FOR BUSINESS” – US EXIM OPEN FOR UKRAINE, EBRD, OPIC ROUNDTABLE
Featured Image -- 4182Tuesday, March 12, 2019, 3 p.m to 5 p.m. Law Offices of McCarter & English,
1301 K St., NW, Suite 1000 West Tower, Washington DC 20005. followed by a light reception

Fluent In EXIM

(or how to realistically obtain US EXIM financing for emerging markets such as Ukraine)

61ae8-exim-bank1 Recent re-opening of US EXIM Bank’s programs in Ukraine has caused a stir and a flurry of activity among US exporters, Government Agencies responsible for trade promotion, Ukrainian importers and non-governmental agencies working in that market.  Following more than a five-year hiatus, everyone has been excited to expand US-Ukraine’s trading relationship and to increase the quantities of much-needed US exports with the aid of the Bank’s financing.  After all, US exports support US jobs and help Ukraine obtain advanced goods and services needed to grow its economy.

Yet, the early results of all those efforts thus far been negligible due to a dearth of local buyers able to qualify for the Bank’s financing, or trade credit insurance programs. Similar situation has been observed in a number of Central Asian markets, which have recently experienced economic resurgence and thirst for imported goods and services.

In order to enhance the ability of the US Government’s agencies to assist in export promotion and financing and most importantly in order to maximize the ability of US companies to export goods and services to emerging markets, it is vital to understand what are the services provided by the US EXIM and what external components are needed to help grow the numbers of qualified buyers and therefore real exports.

Export Import Bank of the United States (US EXIM) is the official Export Credit Agency (ECA) of the US Government, whose mission is to support export of US-manufactured goods and services with a set of export financing and trade credit insurance tools.16ae9-ex-im2bbank

Open for business in over 120 countries, the bank has been in continuous operation since 1934 and for a good number of years of its existence has been contributing profits to the US Treasury, rather than spending the US Government’s budget funds.  Although over the last several years, the Agency has become a victim of political wrangling and its long-term financing programs, those involving terms over 7 years and single transaction amounts over US$ 10 million have been temporarily crippled, the bank’s short and medium programs have continued and are fully operational.

However, when trying to finance, or insure exports to emerging and frontier market countries using US EXIM’s programs, American exporters often face additional hurdles. One of the most severe of those, is finding sufficient number of qualified, or as we call them “bankable” buyers for US goods and services. The second hurdle is often lack of the so-called “15%”, a minimum amount of funds needed from the buyer to supplement the up to 85% of the qualified export amounts financed through the US EXIM’s support.

Here are a couple of typical export frustration scenarios:

a. A large US manufacturer of agriculture equipment with an established distribution network in Ukraine seeking to supply its distributors with $5-6 million dollars in equipment to be sold to Ukrainian farmers prior to the planting season. The US supplier needs to extend open terms of 6 months to its distributors, but needs to insure its risk of non-payment. The US EXIM offers fantastic trade credit insurance products, which after assessing and accepting the buyers’ financials would insure  the US manufacturer for non-payment of up to 95% of the supplied goods.

Yet, for purchase contracts of over $1mil., US EXIM requires the buyers to present  GAAP/IFRS audited financials and in this case none of the distributors audits their financials and doing so may either be not feasible, or cost prohibitive.  Since the distributors appear very financially and reputationally solid, yet unable to meet EXIM’s cursory requirements, the question becomes how to structure the transaction in order to enhance US EXIM’s product and not lose millions of dollars in sales for the US manufacturer?

b. An established Ukrainian agri company is seeking to replace its fleet of machinery and upgrade its grain storage capacity with US manufactured equipment. Size of the transaction is $15 million. To preserve much needed operational cash, the company would like to arrange 100% financing of the acquisition for a term of six years.  The company does audit its financials to IFRS standards, but due to a fairly small transaction size and lack of knowledge of the Ukrainian market by US banks, the company is having a very difficult time, obtaining the 15% co-financing it needs. Once again, $15 million of US exports are in potential jeopardy, what does one do in a situation such as this?

To answer the above questions and to realistically address the issues, which hamper successful export financing in markets such as Ukraine, a task force consisting of a US merchant bank, international law firms, local banks, non-profits and insurance brokers has been created and effective tools developed to truly assist US exporters convert potential opportunities into real exports. Starting later this month in Washington DC, these tools will be presented in a series of workshops called “Fluent In EXIM”. The workshops also will take place both in key Ukrainian and US cities. Given the importance of the US exports to jobs creation and since US EXIM bank is operated under the the supervision of the US Congress, the workshops, in addition to expert panels, will feature members of Congress, as guest speakers. US Ukraine Business Council, a leading non-profit involved in promoting US-Ukraine economic cooperation, will be coordinating these workshops and helping to make US companies trying to export to Ukraine – Fluent In Exim(tm).

 

 

 

 

U.S. EXIM BANK reopens for transactions with Ukraine

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 “A strong international voice for business in Ukraine”U.S. EXPORT-IMPORT BANK (EXIM) NOW OPEN FOR UKRAINE

U.S.-Ukraine Business Council (USUBC), Wash. D.C., Tues, Jan 8, 2019

WASHINGTON, D.C. – The Export-Import Bank of the United States (EXIM) is now open for Ukraine. “This is great news for U.S. exporters of goods and services and for business in Ukraine. EXIM being open for Ukraine provides an additional and important tool to expand U.S.-Ukraine business relations in 2019,” said Morgan Williams, President, U.S.-Ukraine Business Council (USUBC), www.USUBC.org. The Export-Import Bank of the United States (EXIM), www.EXIM.gov, is the official export credit agency of the United States. EXIM is an independent Executive Branch agency with a mission of supporting American jobs by facilitating the export of U.S. goods and services. The EXIM country limitation schedule now includes Ukraine, https://www.exim.gov/tools-for-exporters/country-limitation-schedule

“At the end of December, the Export Import Bank of the United States (EXIM) reopened its short and medium term programs in Ukraine for both private and public sector Ukrainian borrowers,” said Alexander Gordin, Managing Director, Broad Street Capital Group, www.BroadStreetCap.com, a long-time member of USUBC. “The reopening  of EXIM’s programs in Ukraine, after more than five years, sends a terrific signal to U.S. companies seeking to supply the Ukrainian market with U.S. goods and services. It also sends an encouraging message to investors on the improving economic condition in Ukraine,” according to Gordin. “The U.S.-Ukraine Business Council (USUBC) will be working the Broad Street Capital Group and the law firm of Brown Rudnick (www.BrownRudnick.com), both members of USUBC, to organize and conduct a series of workshops titled “Fluent In EXIM” in the near future in the USA and Ukraine,” said USUBC President Williams. “These workshops will feature experts from the public and private sector who will present the most effective strategies for structuring export transactions, submitting applications for export credit insurance and financing, as well as passing due diligence and compliance procedures,” Williams announced. 

ABOUT: EXPORT-IMPORT BANK OF THE UNITED STATES (EXIM) —– The Export-Import Bank of the United States (EXIM), www.EXIM.gov, is the official export credit agency of the United States. EXIM is an independent Executive Branch agency with a mission of supporting American jobs by facilitating the export of U.S. goods and services.
When private sector lenders are unable or unwilling to provide financing, EXIM fills in the gap for American businesses by equipping them with the financing tools necessary to compete for global sales. In doing so, the Bank levels the playing field for U.S. goods and services going up against foreign competition in overseas markets, so that American companies can create more good-paying American jobs.

Because it is backed by the full faith and credit of the United States, EXIM assumes credit and country risks that the private sector is unable or unwilling to accept. The Bank’s charter requires that all transactions it authorizes demonstrate a reasonable assurance of repayment; the Bank consistently maintains a low default rate, and closely monitors credit and other risks in its portfolio.==========================================================
NEWS: For the latest news about Ukraine go to the KYIV POST website: www.KyivPost.com.The Kyiv Post is a member of the U.S.-Ukraine Business Council (USUBC). 
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U.S.-Ukraine Business Council (USUBC) 
1030 15th Street, N.W., Suite 555 W, Washington, D.C.  
Morgan Williams, mwilliams@usubc.orgwww.USUBC.org
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Power Corrupts..Absolute Power Corrupts Absolutely

Grey2White Workshop Hosted by the USUBC, Puts an Exclamation Point on the International Trade Mission

 

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On Wednesday, September 12th, US-Ukraine Business Council (USUBC), in cooperation with the law firm of Brown Rudnick, Broad Street Capital Group and Ankura Consulting, held its second Grey2White ™ workshop in Kyiv. Over 45 guests attended, including the Former First Lady of Ukraine, Kateryna Yushchenko.

IMG-1cae7e700ec217303b52f13cd14e1c96-VThe Grey2White workshop resulted in consensus among the participants on the need of Grey2White program in Ukraine and in other post-Soviet countries. The lively and spirited discussion continued after the official part of the program was concluded.

The workshop’s presenters featured financiers, former prosecutors with the US Department of Justice and enforcement attorney with the US Securities Exchange Commission.

Grey2White workshop served as the exclamation point on the highly successful International Trade Mission through Ukraine and 20160523_094104Uzbekistan, in which the speakers of the Forum participated, along with representatives of eight companies from four countries.

During the Mission, its participants conducted a number of high-level government, NGO and private sector meetings to identify and engage projects in the areas of healthcare, ICT, energy savings, agriculture and aerospace. Over $1.32 billion of project mandates are expected to be awarded to the Mission Participants in the next 60-90 days. Companies wishing to participate in the projects, which have started the development during the Trade Mission, will have an opportunity to learn more during the upcoming International Opportunities conference in November, hosted by the Broad Street Capital Group.


Read more of this post

Grey2White Initiative – the journey continues (parts I and II)

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(Part I of the article reprinted from the June 2017 issue)

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 to 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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Part II  (April 2, 2018)

In the nine months since the above article was first published, a number of events took place, which not only validated the concept behind the Grey2White™ initiation, but also expanded its scope and attracted top notch global professionals to the program.

Although initial premise of the program to convert grey actors in Ukraine to white bankable actors, whose economic contribution will greatly outweigh any possible transgressions they may have committed up to this point remains intact, the program has been expanded to include other emerging market countries of Eastern Europe and Central Asia. The program also grew to allow so-called grey companies to unlock their value through financial and legal transformation in order and become more bankable in the Western capital and financial markets. Part of this transformation involves tools, which on one hand provide increased political protection to the current management and to foreign investors, and on the other hand allow western companies to lock up predictable valuations and to observe the transformation process first hand.

A first rate international “scrub team” has been assembled as a multidisciplinary team consisting of former US Government prosecutors, forensic accountants, legal and financial experts and last but not least, former high-level grey operator with deep expertise in shadowy government and business dealings in Ukraine and several other  post-Soviet countries.

A pilot company and its owner have been selected, as the first of four pilots companies to undergo Grey2White™ transformation in order to make them bankable by US Development Agencies for a $150 million project slated to create over 200 new jobs and to generate significant economic impact in Southern Ukraine.

In the next 60 days. key members of the G2W™ Team are expected to travel to Latvia, Kazakhstan, Azerbaijan, Uzbekistan and Ukraine to conduct additional screening and selection of the pilot companies and individuals.

In the subsequent parts of this article, we will examine the different case studies and watch the pilot candidates undergo the first steps of the Grey2White™ transformation.

(to be continued…)

 

Financing Feasibility Fund I (FI3F) – a $30 mil. Global Project Development Fund announced by the Broad Street Capital Group

(New York City, NY, February 20, 2018)   For Immediate Release

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Fresh from its recent success, as the Financial Developer of the $250 million OPIC insured capital markets financing for NAEK Energoatom of Ukraine, Broad Street Capital Group has fi3f_badgeannounced today that it will establish a $30 mil. Financing Feasibility Fund I (Fi3F™) – a global project development fund to provide feasibility grants and pre-financing development funding for qualified emerging markets’ OPIC-insured infrastructure projects to be financed in the US capital markets.

The Fund will provide qualified Governments and State-owned borrowers feasibility seed funding in the amounts between $350,000 and $1 million dollars and pre-financing bridge loans in the amount of $1.25 to $2.5 million per project.

The Fi3F™ Fund will develop and seed international projects whose financing requirements fall between $150 mil. and $1 billion, and which will span the industry segments ranging from energy, airspace, transportation to agriculture, infrastructure and healthcare. The projects should be located in credit-challenged emerging market countries, which represent priority markets under OPIC’ development finance and insurance mandate. Financing terms for the projects will be between 10 and 20 years. A strong US supply nexus and willingness of the host governments  to provide sovereign guarantees for the financing, will be key considerations during the project selection stage.

Participation in the Fi3F™ will be open to qualified private and institutional  investors, with at least 51% of all the shareholders being US nationals. The management of the fund will utilize proven project development techniques and will be administered by an experienced team consisting of leading legal, insurance and financial experts, a placement agent and the financial developer. The Fund will obtain Political Risk Insurance from OPIC to protect its funds and will retain a top tier investment bank to act the the Paying Agent to administer all the payments and disbursements. Fi3F’ returns are targeted to fall in the 12-17% range annually.

Call for the first round of Financing Feasibility Proposals will commence April 25, 2018.

About the Broad Street Capital Group

Based in the heart of New York City’s Financial District, Broad Street Capital Group (www.broadstreetcap.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 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, healthcare, energy generation, food security, nuclear safety, hospitality and franchising sectors. The firm’s current advisory and export management portfolio exceeds $417 million and expected to exceed $1.5 billion by November 15th, 2018.

This announcement is for informational purposes only and does not constitute an offer or solicitation to sell shares or securities in the Company or any related or associated company. Any such offer or solicitation will be made only by means of the Company’s confidential Offering Memorandum and in accordance with the terms of all applicable securities and other laws. None of the information or analyses presented are intended to form the basis for any investment decision, and no specific recommendations are intended.

For more information contact Alexander Gordin, Managing Director +1 212 705 8765 ext. 701 or via email agordin@broadstreetcap.com

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Broad Street Capital Group – part of the Project Financing team, which successfully concluded a cutting-edge, OPIC insured, $250 million capital markets transaction, to finance spent nuclear fuel facility construction in Ukraine

Washington, DC, February 15, 2018.

cropped-ukrainefi180profile_page_1.jpgYesterday, at a historic ceremony near the White House, a Ukrainian State-owned enterprise, NAEK Energoatom, and a special purpose statutory Trust, have concluded a $250 million loan transaction to finance the bulk of a new Ukrainian Centralized Spent Nuclear Fuel Storage Facility being built in the Chernobyl exclusionary zone.

The low-interest, 20-year loan, is notable for a number of important reasons:

  • It is the first time i political risk insurance provided by the Overseas Private Investment Corporation (OPIC) – a US Government agency- has been used to issue bonds in the US capital markets, in order to finance a state-owned enterprise.
  • Based on the insurance, and its merits, the project received Aa2 credit rating from Moody’s, which in turn allowed the project to benefit from significantly lower financing costs for the financing of the project.
  • The project marks unique collaboration between the US and Ukrainian governments, major US public and private companies and a state-owned enterprise.

Broad Street Capital Group proudly acted as the Financial Developer on this transaction and would like to congratulate all participants and thank the entire project team for its professionalism, dedication and perseverance.

As the Financial Developer, Broad Street Capital has provided project facilitation, assembled the financing team , developed the insurance application, and secured financial support for the project.

About the Broad Street Capital Group

Based in the heart of New York City’s financial district, Broad Street Capital Group (www.broadstreetcap.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 arranging project financing in the $50-500 million range, providing political risk mitigation, export management services and cross-border market development advisory. The 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, healthcare, energy generation, food security, nuclear safety, hospitality and franchising sectors. The firm’s current advisory and export management portfolio exceeds $630 million.  For more information, please contact Tamara Zykova at tz@broadstreetcap.com,

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