The Office of Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy announced Wednesday that he had met with CEO Larry Fink of investment firm BlackRock, and that the two had agreed to coordinate their efforts to invest in Ukraine’s reconstruction.
Zelenskyy and Fink agreed to “focus in the near term” on efforts to attract investors for “the most relevant and impactful sectors of the Ukrainian economy,” according to a statement by Zelenskyy’s office. The two parties previously met in September to discuss the terms under which BlackRock might offer the Ukrainian government pro bono investment advice, according to Kyiv. (RELATED: Biden’s Outgoing Econ Adviser, A Former BlackRock Exec, Likely To Be Replaced By … Another BlackRock Exec: REPORT)
“In accordance with the preliminary agreements struck earlier this year between the Head of State and Larry Fink, the BlackRock team has been working for several months on a project to advise the Ukrainian government on how to structure the country’s reconstruction funds,” the Ukrainian government said in a statement.
A BlackRock spokesperson characterized the meeting as simply a continuation of an existing working relationship, and noted that the work was being done via the company’s Financial Markets Advisory (FMA) group and no client assets were being deployed. BlackRock’s FMA previously signed a Memorandum of Understanding with the Ukrainian Ministry of Economy (MoE), where the company would “provide advisory support” to design a strategy to attract public and private investors to the Ukrainian reconstruction effort, according to BlackRock’s press release.
“The group is a distinct business within the firm, separate and independent from BlackRock’s traditional asset management business,” the press release notes.
The announcement comes eight days after the United States Congress appropriated $45 billion in emergency aide to Ukraine, bringing the projected total of appropriations in 2022 to nearly $100 billion. In a Dec. 21 address to the U.S. Congress, Zelenskyy characterized the aid as an investment in “global security and democracy,” stressing that it would be handled responsibly and was “not charity.”
“We’ve shown that we know how to win on the battlefield,” Zelenskyy said, following the September meeting, according to his office. “Another important task for us is to achieve victories in the economy as well, and to be an attractive country for investors.”
BlackRock alumni have a close relationship with the Biden White House, with the president’s top economic adviser, Brian Deese, and likely replacement Wally Adeyemo, both formerly employees of the investing titan. The company has been criticized by Republican state officials, who allege that the company is too focused on ideological goals and is not fulfilling its fiduciary duty to customers.
“Over the past year, BlackRock has been subject to campaigns suggesting we are either ‘too progressive’ or ‘too conservative’ in how we manage our clients’ money,” BlackRock said in a Dec. 9 statement to the Daily Caller News Foundation. “We are neither … we are a fiduciary.”