Like the rest of the world, the Ukrainian M&A market was dramatically hit by the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic. Indeed, the number of M&A deals decreased in 2020, for the first time since 2014. However, the fourth quarter of 2020 saw a positive surge in the number of M&A deals, and although most of those deals started before the pandemic, the fact that they still happened sent a clear signal: investors are ready to buy in the new reality.
The Ukrainian legal services market has been buzzing with work in the first half of 2021. CEE Legal Matters hosted a round table conversation in which Partners at Asters, Avellum, Integrites, Kinstellar, and Sayenko Kharenko discussed the driving forces behind the workload and their outlook for the months to come.
The Government of Ukraine has recently implemented additional measures to prevent and counteract the legalization (laundering) of proceeds of crime, terrorist financing and financing of proliferation of weapons of mass destruction. Thus, Ukraine made one more step towards implementing 4th Money Laundering EU Directive.
11 June 2021 saw the published form of disclosing the legal entity’s ownership structure approved by Order 163 of the Ministry of Finance of Ukraine dated 19.03.2021 (hereinafter – the Order) pursuant to Law of Ukraine No. 361-ІХ “On Prevention and Counteraction to Legalization (Laundering) of Proceeds of Crime or Financing of Terrorism and Proliferation of Weapons of Mass Destruction” dated 06.12.2019. New requirements to the disclosure of the legal entity's ownership structure will apply from 11 July 2021. All legal entities incorporated in Ukraine must submit their ownership structures to the state registrar till 11 October 2021 in compliance with new requirements.
With effect from 27 April 2021, the Ukrainian entities have been granted the right to make regular interest payments and final capital repayment under Eurobonds and other own debt securities traded on foreign stock exchanges in excess of a so called EUR 2 mln e-limit. In addition, the entities are now allowed to accumulate and periodically replenish foreign currency on the bank accounts in the amount of principal and interest due on the notes on the nearest repayment date.
The consequences of the pandemic are also leaving their mark on Ukraine. Ukraine’s GDP declined by 4.6% in 2020, compared to expected growth of 3.7% before the pandemic. However, unemployment has (officially) only risen from 9.0% to 9.9%, which may be related to the fact that a large proportion of the workers affected by redundancies were in the informal sector, i.e. not officially employed.
Integrites has successfully represented the interests of China-based Foshan Vinmay Stainless Steel Co. Ltd in an anti-dumping investigation related to the import of welded stainless pipes, manufactured in China, into the Eurasian Economic Union. The proceedings were initiated by Russian stainless pipes producers.
A new Law “On State Support of Investment Projects with Significant Investments” was adopted. The Law provides for a state agency to be entrusted with the intensive supervision of particularly large investment projects in Ukraine. Earlier in 2020 President Zelenskiy somewhat mockingly referred to this agency as “investment nanny”. However, this is only a small part of the investment promotion.
For some years now, tensions in international trade relations have become more apparent. The pandemic has also created new challenges for companies in their international supply chains. More and more companies are working to make their supply chains more robust. One way of doing this is to bring production closer to their own market, also geographically. The “Made in Europe” label is also already a positive feature among consumers, even though consumers are now looking to regional or even local production, especially for food. And even if consumers are increasingly willing to pay a premium for regional or local production, there are “pain thresholds” here too. Not every product is suitable for regional production. Especially in the area of labour-intensive production and low automation, Ukraine is in the spotlight as a production location.