Ukraine’s long-awaited push to liberate territory held by Russia may have got off to a slow start, but the country is already planning for its future after the war — and turning to private investors for help.
More than 400 global companies pledged support Wednesday for rebuilding the war-torn economy at the Ukraine Recovery Conference in London. Citi, Sanofi (SNY) and Philips are among firms that have signed up to the Ukraine Business Compact, signaling their intent to boost investment in the country.
The UK government has also set out a package of support for Ukraine, including $3 billion of new guarantees to unlock World Bank loans and £240 million ($305 million) of bilateral assistance.
US Secretary of State Antony Blinken said at the conference that the United States would send an additional $1.3 billion in financial assistance to Ukraine to “overhaul its energy grid” and modernize other critical infrastructure.
Ukraine faces an enormous fundraising challenge, and it’s one that governments and development finance institutions won’t be able to meet without help from private investors. The World Bank estimated in March that the cost of rebuilding the country one year on from the start of the war amounted to $411 billion — a huge figure that is set to increase as the conflict drags on.
To help meet that need, Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky has enlisted BlackRock (BLK) and JPMorgan to advise on the Ukraine Development Fund, a vehicle that seeks to mobilize capital from private and public sector investors toward rebuilding the Ukrainian economy.
Private investors see a “tremendous opportunity” to invest in Ukraine’s post-war future, according to Stefan Weiler, JPMorgan’s head of debt capital markets for central and eastern Europe, the Middle East and Africa.
Weiler, who traveled to Kyiv in February, told CNN he was impressed by how “forward-looking” the government is in preparing for the post-war period.
The Ukraine Development Fund is still in the planning stages and is not expected to launch until the conflict ends. But it faces a crucial test Wednesday, when it will canvas support from governments and investors attending the London conference.
It’s an opportunity to “socialize” the idea of the fund and its mission, which is to “attract as much private sector capital into the reconstruction of Ukrain