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3 September 2021

As Ukraine celebrates 30 years of independence, global investors take notice of the economy’s signs of strength


Speakers at the seventh annual Ukrainian Financial Forum celebrated 30 years of Ukrainian independence and discussed how the country’s economy is poised to benefit from the global recovery already underway.


ICU, an independent asset management, private equity and investment advisory firm specialising in the emerging and frontier markets worldwide, gathered leaders from Ukraine’s political, financial and business worlds alongside international investors to discuss important local market issues including Ukraine’s reform process and the outlook for the country’s financial markets.


Speakers included Mr Poul Thomsen, the former Director of the European department at IMF, alongside Sergiy Nikolaychuk, Deputy Governor of National Bank of Ukraine, Sergii Marchenko, Minister of Finance of Ukraine, Ruslan Magomedov, Chairman, National Securities and Stock Market Commission, Oleksii Yudin, CEO, National Depository of Ukraine, Yuriy Butsa, Government Commissioner for Public Debt Management and many other esteemed guests.


Makar Paseniuk, Founding Partner of ICU, said:


“The past months have been extremely difficult for individuals, families, countries and economies as the world has struggled with managing the Covid-19 pandemic. Global economies have taken drastic fiscal and monetary measures causing global market imbalances.


Ukraine, despite the significant loss of life, has faired very well as an economy during this time due to the unpopular reforms made before and transformative work of our policy makers, bankers and politicians. We believe that Ukraine is now in a strong position to emerge from this recent crisis.”


Mr Poul Thomsen, the former Director of the European department at IMF and a leading economist with more than 30 years of experience in various senior roles at the IMF, begun the forum discussing the global economic situation post the Covid-19 pandemic. Mr Thomsen discussed the challenges to policy makers post crisis, especially considering high debt to GDP levels following a sustained period of proactive fiscal policy and urged central banks to remain humble regarding their outlook for inflation. He discussed the need for an urgent global monetary tightening, with global economies also needing to recalibrate their Covid-19 fiscal response to consider the medium term risks.


Regarding Ukraine, Mr Thomsen believes that the local economy is at its strongest point over the last 30 years of independence. The Ukrainian economy was well prepared to manage economic shocks as the Covid-19 pandemic took hold following a number of years of positive macroeconomic management, good fiscal and monetary policy, and increasingly strong regulation of the banking system. Mr Thomsen praised Ukraine’s Ministry of Finance for managing sovereign debt post Global Financial Crisis in a way which ensured there was significant fiscal space to respond to the Covid-19 crisis while also highlighting the positive impact that the National Bank of Ukraine’s increased supervisions has had on global investor perceptions of the economy as an investment.


Sergiy Nikolaychuk, Deputy Governor of National Bank of Ukraine, commented:


“Ukraine has so far been able to avoid severe economic crisis caused by the pandemic. This is due to its strong structural features and macro-financial stabilization that have achieved by the reform process. Ukraine, however, needs foreign investment to stimulate economic growth and for this, it is vital for the judicial and economic reforms to continue and provide further stability and growth.”


On the day, leading experts shared their unique insights on the most pressing themes global and local fixed income markets through a series of panel discussions. Some of the key takeaways include:

  • In an audience poll during the ‘Dialogue Reformers’ panel, investors identified land and pension reform as two of the most important reforms for Ukraine going forward. All the panelists, included Ukraine’s Minister of Finance, agreed that reform of Ukraine’s farmland market will provide a major stimulus to Ukraine’s agricultural sector, helping to drive economic growth. The new funded pension system slated to launch in 2023 will also be a major boon for the economy and savers. Panelists also agreed that the transition to medium-term budget planning has been a hugely beneficial innovation in the budget process of Ukraine.
  • While discussing the ‘Digitalization of capital markets’ a panel of investors, regulators and policy makers all shared their excitement for the growing use of technology in Ukrainian markets. Speakers noted that digital assets represented an opportunity for Ukraine to advance capital markets, while recognizing the need for education, careful regulation and cybersecurity and sustainability considerations.
  • In the third discussion of the forum, the panel, including the Deputy Governor of the National Bank for Ukraine, and the Government Commissioner for Public Debt Management, discussed how Ukraine’s Capital Market can be further developed after the most recent round of reforms. Attention was paid to both Government bonds and corporate bonds, and IPO listings. The reasoning behind why there are so few bonds issued in Ukraine was discussed, for example taking into consideration the understanding of risk, compliance, liquidity availability, regulatory issues, and interest rates. The National Bank of Ukraine noted they are open to and are becoming more liberal in their commission requirements and approach, to speed up the issuance of such instruments
  • With Ukraine recently updating the procedure for the admission of foreign securities to the Ukrainian market, a panel of experts discussed the challenges and opportunities of accessing foreign securities from Ukraine. Whilst some panelists were upbeat about Ukraine’s efforts to adopt international securities custody best practices, others identified issues particularly around tax that need to be addressed.
  • In the final discussion of the forum, the panel members highlighted the raising of corporate governance standards for market participants, asking the question who needs corporate governance and why. The panelists all agreed that corporate governance is crucial for everyone within Financial Services as well as the users. It was discussed how compliance and governance within banks provides financial stability, enhances reputations, and improves market conduct. The panelists agreed that corporate governance is crucial in enabling transparency to investors and is the social responsibility of a company. Panelists argued on whether raising the bar of corporate governance too high might be a bad idea as for most of the companies and organization those perfect standards are far from being achievable. Maksym Libanov, Commissioner, National Securities and Stock Market Commission, revealed that market participants often provide feedback on the current corporate governance, and that as such the Commission often update versions to ensure it is easily understandable guidance.

For further information, or to arrange an interview with ICU, please contact:


Montfort Communications

Shireen Farhana / Louis Supple

(+44 (0)203 770 7906 / +44 (0)203 770 7914)


About ICU


ICU Group is an independent multi-strategy asset management, private equity, and investment firm that specialises in the emerging, and frontier markets worlwide. The Group also has a portfolio of, venture capital and fintech investments through its venture capital arm, ICU Ventures. ICU currently manages $500m in assets.


About Ukrainian Financial Forum


Organised by ICU in collaboration with the Kyiv School of Economics, the annual Ukrainian Financial Forum is one of the foremost financial events in Ukraine. The Forum is an open platform for distinguished authorities on international economics and politics to discuss the global macroeconomic trends and domestic market reforms that are shaping Ukraine's economy.