Ukraine Recovery Week, London 19-23 June 2023 – Key Takeaways
Last week Dentons lawyers were privileged to participate in the Ukraine Recovery Conference 2023 (URC23), which was hosted in London on June 21–22 and organized by the governments of the United Kingdom and Ukraine. URC23 is a continuation of events in support of the process of reconstruction in Ukraine in response to Russia’s war of aggression. It, along with a number of related events, brought together policymakers and members of the public and private sectors to discuss how best to ensure Ukraine’s recovery and reconstruction. By the end of the two-day event, a total of some US$60 billion in international commitments were made.
Speakers at the conference included Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky, UK Prime Minister Rishi Sunak, his Ukrainian counterpart, Denys Shmyhal, as well as President of the European Commission Ursula von der Leyen (who confirmed that Ukraine’s accession to the EU is imminent), US Secretary of State Antony J. Blinken, foreign ministers of EU countries, and others. They spoke to the more than 1,000 delegates gathered there—representing governments, international financial institutions (IFIs), nongovernmental organizations (NGOs) and the private sector. The focus of this year’s conference was to advance private sector participation in the Ukrainian recovery.
This year’s conference is a continuation of the 2017 Ukraine Reform Conference, also held in London, and bilateral and multilateral events in Lugano (2022 and 2023), Toronto and Paris (2022), Rome and Berlin (2023).
The conference agenda encompassed a wide range of topics, such as transparency, human capital recovery, rebuilding the energy sector, digital excellence, humanitarian demining and support of Ukrainian housing sector. Below is a brief summary of the outcomes of key discussions as well as a snapshot of the efforts toward establishing a framework for reconstruction and recovery in Ukraine.
The scale of recovery
The World Bank estimated in March 2023 that total losses as a result of the war amounted to US$411 billion; however, this number has already been surpassed due to subsequent damage in April-June, including the destruction in early June of the Kakhovka Dam and its 357-MW hydroelectric power plant. It is expected that approximately two-thirds of the losses will be financed by governments, donors and IFIs and the rest by the private sector.
The macroeconomic situation in Ukraine is under control, the budget is fully financed for 2023. Since the beginning of the war, Ukraine has attracted US$51 billion to finance the budget—$20 billion of this came this year.
Despite the war, the country and its businesses continue to operate—90 percent of public services continue to be delivered and only 4 percent of companies have closed.
Ukraine has a long-term vision of transformation (to reach nine key aims in 10 years):
- Become a reliable source of energy for Europe and a leader in green industries
- Develop agriculture (provide food for 600 million people)
- Become a center for high-tech industry
- Obtain EU membership
- Have a developed military industry complex to ensure security on the eastern border
- Establish stable strategic investments
- Earn the trust of business and the people
- Become a member of NATO
- Implement a comprehensive reform program (deregulations, competitive fiscal policy, improved business climate, equal rule of law, etc.)
The biggest commitment came from the EU, which announced on June 21, 2023 that it would provide an additional EUR 50 billion in funding for Ukraine’s budget for 2024–2027. Assistance will be offered mainly in the form of grants, concessional loans and guarantees.
The United States announced additional aid to Ukraine of USD 1.3 billion, where the main goals are to help restore Ukraine’s power system—and overhaul its battered energy grid—and critical infrastructure (including ports, rails lines, border crossings, etc.).
The UK announced that over the next three years it will give credit guarantees for USD 3 billion to support vital public services. This brings the UK’s non-military assistance to Ukraine to more than USD 5.98 billion.
Since February 24, 2022, the EU has approved approximately EUR 38 billion, and the US has provided about USD 63 billion in economic aid to Ukraine.
Ukraine Development Fund
BlackRock, J.P. Morgan and McKinsey are helping Ukraine’s Ministry of the Economy to establish the Ukraine Development Fund (UDF), a sovereign wealth-type development finance institution. BlackRock and J.P. Morgan made presentations at the URC23 on the current status of this project.
The target is to raise low-cost capital from governments (including the Government of Ukraine), donors and international financial institutions and leverage it to attract between five and 10 times as much private investment. The fund will invest over US$50 billion in projects in infrastructure, energy, manufacturing, agriculture and IT.
Last Wednesday, it was also announced that Australian businessman Andrew Forrest, the founder of Fortesque Metals Group, agreed to provide US$500 million seed financing for the UDF.
At the moment, insurance coverage that indemnifies damage resulting from war and allied perils is not available for either Ukrainian companies or international businesses.
The UK Government presented at the conference a Framework on War Risk Insurance for Ukraine. Aon and Lloyd’s announced last Thursday that they were joining forces with Vienna Insurance Group to ensure quick and efficient access to reinsurance services for Ukraine’s reconstruction.
The international community initiated the launch of war risk insurance for private investors in Ukraine. During URC23, the EBRD, the EU, Switzerland, Norway, Ukraine and the Taiwan Business Technical Cooperation Fund signed a statement of intent to cooperate in restoring the private insurance market in Ukraine.
Ukrainian housing sector
Also at the URC23, Ukrainian Financial Housing Company signed an MoU with JP Morgan and management consultants Alvarez & Marsal to develop mortgage lending in Ukraine. This cooperation will provide advice on how to raise funds from foreign investors by issuing covered bonds or securitizations and select optimal bridge financing models.
At the URC23, the Minister of Energy of Ukraine presented the new Energy Strategy to 2050. According to the Ministry of Energy, the strategy’s investment opportunities for new energy capacities amount to USD 383 billion. This includes:
- USD 134 billion for wind generation
- USD 62 billion for solar generation
- USD 72 billion for hydrogen technologies
- USD 80 billion for nuclear generation
- USD 5 billion for transmission systems
- USD 4.5 billion for hydropower.
By 2050, Ukraine has the potential to increase wind generation capacity to 140 GW, solar generation to 94 GW, energy storage to 38 GW, nuclear generation to 30 GW, CHP and bioenergy capacity to 18 GW, and hydropower generation to 9 GW. The government plans to decommission coal-fired thermal power plants and replace them with natural gas and biomethane power plants. At the same time, it is planned that gas production will increase by a factor of four to 80 billion cubic meters per year and gas exports will amount to 66 billion cubic meters per year. Oil production will increase by 6.7 times to 15 million tonnes. Oil refining will amount to 11 million tonnes. As a result, Ukraine expects to become the energy hub of Europe by 2050.
As a result of the URC23 the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development (EBRD) will provide support to the Ukrainian energy sector with EUR 600 million in financing. (The relevant memorandum between EBRD and Ukrhydroenergo, NPC Ukrenergo and Naftogaz has already been signed.)
The EBRD’s memorandum with Naftogaz envisages three main areas of cooperation:
- Formation of strategic natural gas reserves
- Investments to decarbonize and reduce methane emissions
- Investments to improve energy efficiency
Another memorandum concerns support for Ukrenergo. The goal is to provide resources to the company to cover critical expenses.
The International Finance Corporation (IFC) acknowledged that energy is one of the country’s most impacted sectors with reconstruction needs estimated at USD 47 billion. The United Kingdom has agreed to contribute USD 30 million to the IFC’s Economic Resilience Action (ERA) program to support energy security. The UK’s funding is expected to mobilize an additional USD 100 million in investments to support renewable energy and energy efficiency in Ukraine. Additionally, the IFC signed a new engagement with Norwegian Scatec ASA to help deploy Release by Scatec in Ukraine. Release is an innovative containerized solar and storage solution. The modular redeployable technology provides a reliable and clean source of power and can help diversify Ukraine’s generation mix away from fossil fuels, further enhancing its energy security.
The Ministry of Energy of Ukraine and the UK Ministry of Foreign Affairs have signed a memorandum on energy partnership with a value of GBP 62 million. This includes technical cooperation, ODA grants, and trade and investment facilitation in areas such as small, modular nuclear power plants, green hydrogen and other renewable gases, solar micro/mini-grids, solar systems for small households, energy efficiency, onshore and offshore wind energy and for developing the carbon market among other initiatives.
Also during the URC23, the G7+ countries and Ukraine committed to a Clean Energy Partnership for the sustainable recovery and reconstruction of Ukraine’s energy system.
The G7+ committed to supporting Ukraine’s goal of building a more modern, secure, decentralized and cleaner energy system fit for a Net Zero future and with greater integration with Europe. The G7+ group will work with Ukraine to develop and deepen a Clean Energy Partnership over the coming months with the following goals:
- Accelerating the adoption of applicable core European Union energy legislation (EU acquis), increasing energy market efficiency and integrating with the EU market
- Increasing the production and use of low-carbon energy sources
- Implementing just transition principles in making efforts towards the phase out of Ukraine’s use of unabated coal in power generation to accelerate carbon neutrality while adding power capacity that improves the reliability and competitiveness of Ukraine’s energy system
- Upgrading energy infrastructure to the best global standards to enhance resilience and increase efficiency
- Through an enabling environment, attracting innovative technological and financial solutions
The G7+ also committed to strengthening coordination of the G7+ group’s diplomatic, development and trade efforts, to catalyze and maximize investment in support of Ukraine’s Energy Strategy to 2050, the forthcoming National Energy and Climate Plan and Ukraine’s National Recovery priorities. The group will focus on utilizing existing donor instruments to provide coordinated support towards a resilient, efficient, more decentralized and smart energy system which will serve Ukraine’s economic revitalization and long-term growth. The Clean Energy Partnership will complement existing bilateral energy partnerships between G7+ members and Ukraine.
The UK has agreed to contribute USD 30 million to the IFC’s ERA program to support energy security. Energy is one of the country’s most impacted sectors with reconstruction needs estimated at USD 47 billion. The UK’s funding is expected to mobilize a further US$100 million in investments to support renewable energy and energy efficiency in Ukraine.
In advance of URC23, infrastructure consultancy AECOM announced that it has signed a memorandum of understanding with Ukraine’s Ministry for Communities, Territories and Infrastructure Development to serve as its reconstruction delivery partner and provide infrastructure and program management advisory support to help Ukraine achieve its reconstruction goals. The company also announced that it had signed a memorandum of cooperation with Ukraine’s State Agency for Restoration and Development of Infrastructure to advance preliminary integrated cost estimating and other engineering support for many of the country’s complex and critical infrastructure projects.
The State Agency for Restoration and Development of Infrastructure of Ukraine, the organization responsible for implementing reconstruction projects, and Bechtel, a leading global engineering, construction, and project management company, announced that they have signed a memorandum of understanding to work together on developing a national program that prioritizes key infrastructure corridors and projects destroyed during the military aggression. The agreement was signed by both parties at the Ukraine Recovery Conference in London.
Earlier this year, Kingspan, an Irish construction materials company, was the first company to announce its intention to invest more than USD 200 million to build the Kingspan Construction Technology Campus in the Lviv region. The campus will focus on the production of higher valued-added construction products.
Also, despite Russia’s ongoing invasion, Bayer announced that it would invest more than USD 65 million from 2023 onwards in its corn seed production facility in Ukraine, while Nestle will invest approximately USD 43 million in a new factory in Ukraine.
The URC23 was billed as a great success, with one of the largest international financial commitments for reconstruction since the Second World War. That said there is a lot of work still ahead in implementing the understandings and contracts approved at URC23. A number of topics in our view were insufficiently discussed, such as whether to use seized Russian assets to pay for rebuilding, as well as what the structure of the agency administering the reconstruction effort will look like.
The next URC will take place in Germany later in 2023. We are monitoring developments on all business, policy and legal issues in Ukraine closely and will report to you regularly on changes.
By Oleg Batyuk, Dentons Ukraine managing partner, and Maksym Sysoiev, partner