Projects

2019 CUSUR CALENDAR
 
Upcoming Events 2019
US-UA Security Dialogue X
Washington, DC
February 28, 2019
 
UA HES Special Event:
Sobornist' at 100
Ukrainian Museum
May 4, 2019   
 
US-UA BNS Special Event
Washington DC
May 23, 2019
 
US-UA WG Yearly Summit VI
Washington, DC
June 13, 2019

US-UA Energy Dialogue VI
Kyiv, Ukraine
August 29, 2019 
 
UA HES Special Event:
UA-AM Community at 125
Princeton Club/NY
September 21, 2019 
 
UA QUEST RT XX
Washington, DC
October 10, 2019
 
UA HES Forum VII:
LT-PL-UA Relations
Chicago
November 9, 2019   
 

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CUSUR 2016 - Project I
US-UA “Working Group” Initiative

The US-Ukraine “Working Group” Initiative was launched in 2007 in order to secure an array of experts in "areas of interest” for CUSUR and its various forums/proceedings; at the same time, it was hoped that the ‘experts’ might agree to write a series of ‘occasional papers’ to identify “major issues” impacting on US-Ukrainian relations.
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CUSUR 2017 - Project II
Publication Efforts

Recognizing the urgent need to set up proper channels for the maximum circulation of the information/analysis CUSUR possessed or had at its disposal, the Center long focused on having ‘a publication presence’ of some form or another.
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CUSUR 2018 - Project III
DC Occasional Briefings Series

CUSUR did not turn its attention to having a DC presence until summer 2012. Borrowing space when the need arose (particularly for various forum steering committees meetings) from the American Foreign Policy Council, its longest abiding partner, seemed to suffice; an Acela ride from the Center’s NY office did the rest. If there was a concern, it was to open an office in Kyiv.
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Investing in Eastern Europe’s Fastest-Growing Market

Ukraine-North America Investment Forum

Ukraine-North America Investment Forum: Investing in Eastern Europe’s Fastest-Growing Market

Adrianna Melnyk

June 4-6, 2006

[For the Ukrainian Weekly and Orange Circle]

Despite the fact that Ukraine's democracy has recently faced a period of political contestation, the country's economy has grown rapidly, with GDP rising at an annual rate of nearly 8 percent in the first half of 2007. Ukraine's stock market has risen over 75 percent over the last 12 months. A recent study by the Chicago-based consulting company A.T. Kearney ranked Ukraine among the world's three most promising retail markets worldwide, and according to a recent Standard & Poor's report, investments in the newer emerging markets, including Ukraine, are now increasingly common among the portfolios of leading international investors.

As a result of these trends, the investment community of North America is expressing increased interest in meeting with Ukrainian businesses, investment banks, and investors eager to develop partnerships, issue bonds, and raise capital through IPOs, venture capital, mezzanine financing, and private equity.

In order to provide a forum for such a discussion to take place, two New York-based not-for-profit organizations, the Orange Circle and the Center for US-Ukrainian Relations, in cooperation with NYSE Euronext, organized the Ukraine-North America Investment Forum: Investing in Eastern Europe’s Fastest-Growing Market. From June 4-6, 2007, over 100 North American investment professionals gathered with their Ukrainian counterparts, with Ukrainian companies, and with representatives of multilateral organizations at the New York Marriott Marquis Times Square, at the New York Stock Exchange, and at the Ukrainian Institute of America for a three-day session which included plenary and focus sessions, lunchtime keynote addresses, a visit to the New York Stock Exchange and to its trading floor, and business-to-business sessions.

The opening session of the forum featured remarks from Yuri Yekhanurov, former Prime Minister of Ukraine and a member of Ukraine’s Parliament. Mr. Yekhanurov spoke about the trends in Ukraine’s investment climate and opportunities for investing; stating that Ukraine’s market and democratic orientation is irreversible.

Mr. Yekhanurov was introduced by Jorge Zukoski, President of the American Chamber of Commerce in Ukraine. Following Mr. Yekhanurov’s remarks, Helena Hessel, Director of Sovereign Ratings at Standard and Poor’s in New York, gave a presentation on Ukraine’s Investment Climate – the Rating Agency Perspective, in which she discussed the strengths and weaknesses of Ukraine’s investment climate. A key strength of the Ukrainian economy, according to S&P, is that the government’s net general debt is very low when compared with that of other countries in its peer group, which include Turkey, Serbia, Brazil, Philippines, Indonesia, Venezuela, and Guatemala. Ms. Hessel noted that although Ukraine is still a poor country when measured by per capita GDP, but that real incomes are growing more quickly there than they are in other comparable countries. Ms. Hessel focused on areas of concern and factors that can improve Ukraine’s S&P rating. One such area was the transition to stronger institutions, including such World Bank indicators as Voice and Accountability, Regulatory Quality, Political Stability, Rule of Law, Government Effectiveness, and Control of Corruption. According to Ms. Hessel, Ukraine has a “long way to go” on improving these indicators, and improvement will lead to higher country ratings. [Author’s note: In a report released by the World Bank on July 10, 2007 report Governance Matters – Worldwide Governance Indicators 1996-2006, Ukraine was shown to have had significant improvement in a short period of time (five years) on at least one dimension, Voice and Accountability, which measures the extent to which a country's citizens are able to participate in selecting their government, as well as freedom of expression, freedom of association, and a free media.]

Closing comments were provided by Michael Marrese, Managing Director and Head of Economics and Strategy for the CEEMEA at JP Morgan. Dr. Marrese commented on international financial and economic trends, and how these trends may impact further economic development in Ukraine and in the region.

The first plenary session of the conference focused on "Strategies for Raising Capital". Speakers included Lucas Romriell, Head of Equity Sales for Concorde Capital, one of the leading Ukraine-based brokerages, Valentyn Zelenyuk, Chief Economist and Strategist of Millenium Capital, a Ukrainian investment bank, and Roman Masley, Managing Director of SHI Capital in Toronto, Canada.

Mr. Romriell’s presentation, Ukraine: Tapping the Growth, laid out current trends and future growth prospects for Ukrainian capital markets, and highlighted growth patterns by sector. According to figures collected by Concorde, in 2007, growth in heavy industrial lagged behind that in the banking and retail sectors, with a likelihood that this trend will continue. The presentation also highlighted the importance of merger and acquisition activity in Ukraine: Ukraine was the fastest growing M&A market in Central and Eastern Europe in 2006 with 101% year-over-year growth in the number of deals (from 85 in 2005 to 171 in 2006), with the main investors coming from Russia, Poland and United Kingdom. Among other trends Mr. Romriell named the start of “real IPOs”; new trading systems for Ukrainian companies, including on the Frankfurt, Warsaw, AIM, and Euronext exchanges; the growth of local Ukrainian exchanges; increased activity on the part of local mutual funds; and convertible bond issues. He also announced that Concorde itself will launch a mutual fund in the near future.

In his presentation, Why Invest in Ukrainian Equities, Mr. Zelenyuk provided an overview of positive Ukrainian macroeconomic indicators, including high real GDP growth, a stable currency and low inflation, a low current account deficit, and a large domestic consumer market. Additional favorable indicators for investment, according to Millenium Capital, include a relatively small budget deficit and low levels of public debt. Mr. Zelenyuk also pointed to the diversified nature of the Ukrainian economy, saying that because economic growth is not dependent on one sector alone, there is ample room for diversification of investment in the country. Finally, investment in Ukraine has been characterized by high returns, reasonable volatility, and low correlation with other equity markets, including those of Russia and other emerging Europe countries.

The morning portion of the conference continued with a plenary session on "Raising Capital: Plans and Perspectives of Ukraine’s Business Leaders", with talks by Elena Voloshina, Head of International Finance Corporation Operations in Ukraine, Jock Mendoza-Wilson, Director of Investor Relations at System Capital Management, and Aaron Johnson, Head of Transaction Support Services, Ernst and Young Ukraine.

The speakers addressed the main preconditions for raising capital: efficient internal strategies and transparency of operations, external financing criteria, and support services, including those provided by companies such as Ernst and Young. Ms. Voloshina opened the session and also outlined IFC’s activities in Ukraine, which center around three main categories of products: financial, including loans, equity, and guarantees; resource mobilization, otherwise defined as loan syndication and co-financing; and advisory services focused on country, industry, and financial expertise, or technical advice and training. According to Ms. Voloshina, “The IFC has significant experience in implementing investment projects in Ukraine. [By] June 2007, IFC has invested US $722 million into 34 projects. We are consistently expanding our investment program with a focus on the financial, agribusiness, construction materials, retail trade and services, energy, and infrastructure sectors. We are interested in providing loans and/or equity to Ukrainian companies. IFC’s primary objective in Ukraine…is to promote open and competitive markets, support sustainable private sector companies in expanding their capacities, to generate productive jobs and to deliver basic services, so that people have opportunities to escape poverty and to improve their lives.”

Jock Mendoza-Wilson, a representative of System Capital Management, Ukraine’s largest holding company, spoke on Improving Governance and Increasing Investment. For a company the size of SCM, and for one which owns and controls assets in the metals and mining, energy, banking and insurance, telecommunications and other industries, access to international capital markets is of particular importance. Mr. Mendoza-Wilson presented an overview of the strides that SCM has made in the areas of transparency, improved corporate governance and structure, technical modernization, and long-term investment planning, as well as the company’s plans for the future. Two goals discussed by Mr. Mendoza-Wilson were not directly related to the company’s bottom line: corporate responsibility and improvement of the investment climate. However, it was clear from his talk that SCM, like others in Ukraine of its size and stature, are making concerted efforts to improve not only their company’s operations, governance, and transparency, but also to be good corporate citizens and to use their financial power to positively influence economic policymaking.

A working lunch, whose focus was "Ukraine’s Emerging Market in an International Context", featured a keynote address given by Roger Kubarych, chief US economist for Unicredit HVB in New York and former Senior Vice President and Chief Economist of the New York Stock Exchange. Other lunchtime speakers included Bo Bazylevsky, Managing Director & Head of Emerging Market Credit at JP Morgan, and Rafael Soeda, Executive Director of Emerging Markets Special Opportunities Investing, JP Morgan. Keynote introductions were made by Igor Obozintsev, Advisor to the President of the State Export-Import Bank of Ukraine.

The afternoon portion of the conference continued with three plenary sessions. The first, "Opportunities for Investment: Views of Leading Ukrainian and International Fund Managers", featured a presentation by Natalie Jaresko, Managing Partner of Horizon Capital, which manages two funds totaling over $280 million, and whose investment portfolio includes companies in the consumer food goods and non-goods sectors, in manufacturing, and in financial institutions.

Other speakers in the session were Noah Gotbaum, Managing Partner of New Spirit Capital, a recently-created Ukraine opportunity fund, and Roman Kyzyk, Managing Director, Draper Fisher Jurvetson Nexus Fund.

Because one of the conference’s aims was to present in-depth expertise on high-growth sectors, real estate and infrastructure development were chosen as sector-specific topics for two plenary sessions. "Investing in and Financing Ukraine’s Booming Real Estate Sector" brought together two experts in their respective fields: Gregory Krasnov, CEO of IMB Group, Ukraine’s leading consumer lending platform; and Myron Rabij, Partner at Salans, an international law firm. In his talk, Mr. Krasnov provided an overview of the IMB Group, and of the consumer lending market in Ukraine, saying that the sector is currently experiencing “explosive growth”, and that this high rate of growth can be attributed to four main factors: 1) Utilization and leverage of the experiences of other Central and East European countries 2) Strong macroeconomic indicators 3) rapid growth of personal incomes and 4) Increased participation of foreign players in the marketplace. According to Mr. Krasnov, there is potential for 10-fold increase in the market in the consumer lending sector in the coming 4-5 years, including mortgages, sales finance, credit cards, car loans, and cash loans.

In order to invest in real estate sector in Ukraine, it is necessary to understand the often-complicated and quickly-changing legal framework for such transactions. Mr. Rabij, whose key practice area at Salans is real estate law, outlined key areas of significance for property transactions in Ukraine.

In the final session of the first day, Lesia Haliv, Head of Business Development at the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development provided participants with an overview of EBRD’s development of PPPs (Public-Private Partnerships) as well as of the bank’s activities in Ukraine, while Vasyl Myroshnychenko, Partner at CFC Consulting, spoke of upcoming prospects for Investing in Ukraine’s Infrastructure as planning for the Euro 2012 soccer championships begins.

The second day of the conference began with a special forum session "Ukraine’s Potential: the View of an American Investor", which included opening remarks by Ambassador Yuriy Sergeev, the new Permanent Representative of Ukraine to the United Nations, and a keynote address by Ambassador Ronald Lauder, Founder and Chairman of Central European Media Enterprises. Ambassador Lauder provided participants with a firsthand account of the development of his now huge media empire in the region: “In 1994 I started Central European Media now the company has a $3.6 – 4 billion market cap and operates in six countries, including Ukraine… In the case of Ukraine, we have seen a country go from almost complete chaos to today having solid banking institutions, legal firms, and the [right] conditions for economic growth.”

One of the final conference panels was "IPOs and Private Placements" and featured Victor Ivanchyk, the CEO of Astarta Holding N.V., the first public Ukrainian sugar company. Mr. Ivanchyk provided a case study of Astarta and of the process of taking the company public on the Warsaw Stock Exchange, and underscored the importance of transparency and predictability of business operations for companies considering IPOs. Mr. Ivanchyk was introduced by Andrew Blinov, of Expert Magazine Ukraine Group, who spoke about “Investment demand and IPO’s [in Ukraine]: Current Trends & Forecasts.”

The final plenary session was a special spotlight on one of the most important factors in “getting it right” when doing business in Ukraine. In "A Dynamic Legislative/Legal Framework for Ukraine's Economy", Armen Khachaturyan, Partner at Shevchenko Didkovskiy & Partners, presented a detailed overview of Diversification of Financial Instruments – Legal Aspects and Challenges. His presentation systematically addressed legal issues and challenges as they pertain to debt (Eurobonds, syndicated loans, and LBOs), equity (IPOs), and structured finance (securitization of assets, project finance) underlying deals in Ukraine.

The day’s sessions ended with a working lunch for all conference participants, where a keynote address was delivered by Oleksandr Savchenko, Deputy Chairman of the National Bank of Ukraine and where remarks were made by Stefan Jekel, Managing Director of NYSE Euronext.

Following lunch, Ukrainian participants continued the conference program at a special session at the New York Stock Exchange, "A Briefing by NYSE Euronext Representatives for Ukrainian Companies". This portion of the program was a major reason for some Ukrainian companies’ participation in the forum.

Over the past half decade, the effects of globalization in international financial markets have reverberated in the U.S., eroding the New York Stock Exchange’s historic prominence. Major and wide-sweeping efforts have been undertaken to bolster the competitiveness of U.S. capital markets. One such recent measure was the April 4, 2007 merger of the New York Stock Exchange with Euronext, which resulted in the creation of the world’s largest and most liquid exchange group. NYSE Euronext brought together six cash equities exchanges in five countries and six derivatives exchanges, and became a world leader for listings, trading in cash equities, equity and interest rate derivatives, bonds and the distribution of market data.

A key mandate for NYSE Euronext is to attract IPOs from companies who might otherwise list on London’s AIM, on LSE, or on other exchanges. Along with other developing countries, Ukraine has become a strategic priority for the newly-merged NYSE Euronext. "We’re very excited about the prospect of having the first Ukraine company list on NYSE Euronext markets," said NYSE Euronext managing director Stefan Jekel. "Such a listing would offer US and global investors the opportunity to participate in Ukraine’s economic growth."

This was the first time that a Ukrainian business delegation had been brought on an official visit to the exchange. Following a briefing with high ranking representatives of NYSE Euronext, the group had an opportunity to visit the trading floor and to watch the closing bell.

June 6, the final day of the Ukraine-North America Investment Forum, took place at the Ukrainian Institute of America, where conference participants held business-to-business meetings to discuss policy issues pertaining to doing business in Ukraine.

Following the conclusion of the conference, the organizers received feedback from participants and sponsors, one of whom said: “Business and investment conferences on Ukraine are regular events in Europe but...are extremely rare in the US, notwithstanding the high level of US investment and business in Ukraine. The Ukraine Business Forum is important because it endeavors to fill [a] void in this area, and its efforts - currently and in the past, should be recognized, and I hope they remain ground-breaking fixtures.” Another participant wrote to say: “Being arguably the largest investment conference this year in North America dedicated to Ukrainian market, the recent “Ukraine-North America Investment Forum” will play a very important role in improving Ukraine’s investment prospects. The forum was the place where representatives of Ukrainian government and business community eager to raise financial resources for the development of the national economy, met with investors, international organizations and corporations that are either already investing or committed to invest in Ukraine. Although investment deals are not typically closed at such forums, it’s there that investors shape their intentions and plans. The best demonstration of a successful forum in a broad sense would be change in potential investors’ attitude towards Ukraine as a place ‘where business is possible’, and as a result, instigation of many investment projects in the short run.”

It is always difficult to judge the impact of conferences. However, given the level of enthusiasm of conference participants and follow-up activities already underway, the forum was a resounding success.

 

Past Highlight Events

RT XVII Items of Note
Highlights from Ukraine's Quest for Mature Nation Statehood RT XVII: Ukraine & Religious Freedom, held in Washington, DC on Oct. 27, 2016
 
UA HES SE: UA 25th B-Day
Highlights from UA HES Special Event: 'Commemorating the 25th Anniversary of the Modern Ukrainian State', held at the NY Princeton Club on Sept. 17, 2016
 
US-UA WG YS IV Highlights
Highlights from US-UA WG Yearly Summit IV: Providing Ukraine with an Annual Report Card, held at the University Club in Washington, DC on June 16, 2016
 
US-UA SD VII Items of Note
Highlights from US-Ukraine Security Dialogue VII held on February 25, 2016 in Washington DC
 
UA HES SE: WW2 Legacy
Highlights from the UA Historical Encounters Special Event: 'Contested Ground': The Legacy of WW2 in Eastern Europe, held in Edmonton on October 23-24, 2015
 
Holodomor SE Highlights
Highlights from the UA Historical Encounters Special Event: Taking Measure of the Holodomor, held at the Princeton Club of NY on November 5-6, 2013
 
US-UA SD III Items of Note
Highlights from US-Ukraine Security Dialogue III held on May 19, 2012 in Chicago, IL

  • Former UA Foreign Minister Volodymyr Ohryzko's keynote
 
UEAF Forum VI Highlights
Highlights from UEAF Forum VI, held in Ottawa, Canada on March 7-8, 2012
 
RT XII Items of Note
Highlights from Ukraine's Quest for Mature Nation Statehood RT XII: PL-UA & TR-UA, held in Washington, DC on Oct 19–20, 2011
 
US-UA ED III Items of Note
Highlights from US-Ukraine Energy Dialogue III, held in Washington DC
on April 15-16, 2008
 
© 2019 CUSUR—Center for US Ukrainian Relations