The world’s largest asset manager, BlackRock, has been sending teams of executives to Kyiv to meet with Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky since September, and in December, CEO Larry Fink and Zelenksy reached a tentative agreement via phone to coordinate large-scale reconstruction investment for the war-torn country.
According to a call readout, Fink and Zelensky would “focus in the near term on coordinating the efforts of all potential investors and participants in the reconstruction of our country, channeling investment into the most relevant and impactful sectors of the Ukrainian economy.”
Now, after several additional meetings and growing publicity, the BlackRock initiative in conjunction with Kyiv is receiving pushback not only from international observers but also the Ukrainian public. Meanwhile, Philipp Hildebrand, BlackRock’s Vice Chairman and member of the firm’s global executive committee took part in another high-level meeting Friday in Kyiv.
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The reconstruction fund is gaining wide attention, including criticism, as the firm and Ukrainian officials work to hammer out the details.
According to a statement from Zelensky’s office, BlackRock will provide services for the fund, which will seek both public and private capital for reconstruction projects in Ukraine once the war has ended.
“We can offer interesting projects for investments in energy, agriculture, logistics, infrastructure, IT and many other sectors,” Zelensky said.
“We want global partners, who can provide us with large investments to come,” he added.
Meanwhile, as Zelesnky peddles a variety of opportunities to investors, others have taken to social media to criticize both the asset firm and Zelensky saying, “Taxpayers pay the war bills, private firms get the profits.” Another social media post said, “Ukraine [is] being privatized and sold off to companies like BlackRock.”
According to a Zerohedge report, Russian state-run media agency RT also criticized Zelensky saying, “Ukraine being privatized and sold off to companies like BlackRock, while being enslaved to the IMF, the US and EU through crippling debt?”
Former Fox News’ personality, Tucker Carlson, even had something to say about the burgeoning relationship between Kyiv and BlackRock.
Hillary Clinton also remarked that the only way to stop “Putin’s aggression” was to give Ukraine more money. Clinton’s remarks came as Zelensky held another high-level meeting with BlackRock executives.
While criticisms of BlackRock’s deal with Ukraine continue to mount, so does concern that the much-anticipated Ukrainian spring counteroffensive has either stalled or will perhaps not be fully launched at all as it continues to lose momentum amid escalated Russian aerial attacks.
In December the World Bank estimated Ukraine’s post-war reconstruction costs as upwards of 600 billion euros. While in October, Kyiv gave an estimate of $750 billion.
Zelensky’s office has been using state-tied media to notify citizens that BlackRock is squarely on Ukraine’s side, while also praising the company’s $8 trillion worth of assets it manages.
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