Ukraine President Volodymyr Zelenskyy has welcomed one of Australia’s largest private investment groups committing US$500 million to seed a minimum US$25 billion Ukraine Green Growth Initiative. The fund is expected to grow to at least US$100 billion.
This investment fund will focus on primary infrastructure such as energy and communications to build a digital green grid, so Ukraine can become a model for the world as a leading digital green economy.
Dr Andrew Forrest and President Zelenskyy announced the investment by the Tattarang Group at the Bloomberg New Economy Forum in Singapore.
President Zelenskyy said: “Andrew and I have agreed we will not replace communist era rubbish Russian infrastructure, instead we will leapfrog to the latest technology. We will take advantage of the fact that what the Russians have destroyed can readily be replaced with the latest, most modern green and digital infrastructure.
“This innovative initiative will facilitate the world’s first green digital economy and the fastest growing economy in Europe, if not the world.”
Dr Forrest said: “Our investment fund will help to step beyond the wire lines of the past and accelerate digital communications development.
“The US$25bn Ukraine Green Growth Initiative will be the home of professional and sovereign investment with the aim of helping rebuild Ukraine in one generation, whilst delivering returns to investors.
“We will seed the Initiative with a US$500 million investment. I invite professional investors, fund managers and sovereign funds and all who believe invading another country should now be forever consigned to the historical garbage bin of humanity’s worst mistakes, to join us.”
The Ukraine Green Growth Initiative will work with the global investment community to achieve rapid reconstruction of Ukraine post-hostilities.
A period of consultation for the investment fund has been ongoing since early March and has included Dr Forrest briefing US President Joe Biden, former UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson, Australian Prime Minister Anthony Albanese, OECD Secretary-General Mathias Cormann, and the international business community including UN Special Envoy Michael Bloomberg, Chairman and CEO of BlackRock Larry Fink and their teams.
Dr Forrest spent nearly a week in Ukraine and visited Kyiv in June, meeting the majority of Ukraine’s Cabinet including President Zelenskyy, where the strategy was agreed.
Dr Forrest said: “Ukraine can enter a golden era. By business backing Ukraine, we’re sending a message to the world. I want every government to know that as soon as hostilities cease global business will be ready to help rebuild immediately.
“We will build a new future, not simply replace the past. We want Ukrainian people to know that we will be there with you, helping you to deliver strong economic growth in Europe.”
President Zelenskyy welcomed Dr Forrest’s commitment.
The President said: “The whole world can see how Russia, unable to win on the battlefield, terrorises civil infrastructure. The price of reconstruction is growing with each new strike. One day the aggressor will pay for everything in full, but our people cannot wait for electricity and heat for months.
“We need to restore Ukraine now! That is why this project is so timely. I thank its initiators: Andrew Forrest and Larry Finkof BlackRock for their commitment and strong signal to the global business community.
“Together we will not only rebuild Ukraine, protecting people’s lives, but also make it an attractive place for global business.”
Following an introduction by Dr Forrest in September, BlackRock has worked closely with the Ukrainian Government, last week signing a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) on a framework for consultative assistance in developing a special platform to attract private capital for the recovery and support of Ukraine’s economy.
The MoU formalised a discussion in early September between President Zelenskyy, Mr Fink and Dr Forrest around opportunities for attracting public and private investment in Ukraine.
First Deputy Prime Minister – Minister of Economy of Ukraine Yuliia Svyrydenko after signing the Memorandum said: “It is very important for us to demonstrate to the whole world that the war does not disallow investment in Ukraine. After all, investments are the key to the future rapid and effective economic recovery.
“Therefore, we have high expectations for cooperation with BlackRock’s FMA division. We hope that this “investment platform” will become an effective mechanism for mobilizing private and public capitals in key sectors of our economy.”
The Forrests’ philanthropic organisation Minderoo Foundation has already contributed millions of dollars to help the Ukrainian people, including funding the first humanitarian grain shipment out of Ukraine in August, and providing critical grain storage facilities for farmers whose crops would have otherwise perished.