BlackRock to advise Zelensky on investments aimed to rebuild Ukraine

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky and BlackRock CEO Larry Fink agreed to coordinate investments geared toward rebuilding Ukraine, an announcement from Zelensky’s office published Wednesday said following a call between the two parties.

The readout of the call comes after Fink and Zelensky held a meeting earlier this year to discuss a project that involves BlackRock's Financial Markets Advisory group guiding the Ukrainian government in allocating reconstruction funds and creating opportunities to drive further investment.

“Volodymyr Zelensky and Larry Fink agreed to 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,” the Ukrainian government said in its Wednesday statement.

In November, Ukraine’s economic ministry signed a memorandum of understanding with BlackRock that indicated the money manager will help the country establish a “roadmap for the investment framework’s implementation, including identifying design choices for the envisioned setup, structure, mandate and governance.”

The pact intends to create opportunities for both public and private investors to participate in the future reconstruction and recovery of the Ukrainian economy, according to BlackRock’s announcement of the agreement last month.

A BlackRock spokesperson told Yahoo Finance the call between BlackRock and President Zelensky this week continues work already underway under the existing MOU.

Zelensky met with U.S. President Joe Biden in Washington, D.C., last week and delivered an address to Congress about the toll of Russia’s war in the country. The U.S. House of Representatives approved a $45 billion aid package for Ukraine on Friday as part of a $1.7 trillion spending bill that passed mostly along party lines.

Russia's war in Ukraine has stretched on for nearly a year. Zelensky has recently been promoting a peace plan aiming to end the war that has been dismissed by Moscow. As of November, the Kyiv School of Economics estimated damages to Ukrainian infrastructure from the war at approximately $136 billion.

BlackRock's move into world affairs come as the firm faces increasing criticism in the U.S. from Republicans, who have been scrutinizing Fink over what the party sees as him pushing an environmental, social, and governance agenda. Last month, Florida, led by Republican Gov. Ron DeSantis, said it would redeem $2 billion worth of state assets managed by BlackRock over its ESG investing.

Criticism has also come from others in the investment sphere. Activist investor Bluebell Capital Partners also in November urged BlackRock’s board to oust Fink over alleged hypocrisy on its ESG stance.

Bluebell argued that it was not BlackRock’s role is “to direct the public debate on climate and energy policies or to impose ideological beliefs on the corporate world.”

Alexandra Semenova is a reporter for Yahoo Finance. Follow her on Twitter @alexandraandnyc

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