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Freshfields and the Ukraine Development Fund

Helping Ukraine find the money and expertise to rebuild

Freshfields’ pro bono work is helping Ukraine obtain the economic resources and expertise needed for its future reconstruction and recovery through the Ukraine Development Fund.

Finding the resources to help Ukraine fight Russia has been a priority for the country’s allies and supporters. However, Ukraine will also need significant reconstruction assistance after the conflict ends: the World Bank in March 2023 estimated the reconstruction cost at $411bn (equivalent to €383bn) and the amount is likely to have increased substantially since then. The recovery process is likely to stretch at least 10 years and need ongoing public and private funds.

The Ukraine Development Fund is intended to operate as a national Development Finance Institution, sponsored by the Ukrainian government but operationally independent from it. The Fund is intended to complement the work of other international institutions by increasing the number of high-quality investment opportunities for private capital to participate in the reconstruction of Ukraine. The Fund will initially focus on investment opportunities in sectors such as infrastructure, energy, manufacturing, agriculture and IT – areas where Ukraine either has particular needs and/or significant potential and natural resources.

Providing assistance

The Ukraine Development Fund will provide a path for domestic and international public and private investors to assist Ukraine with financing its post-war development efforts. The Fund is advised by BlackRock, JPMorgan Chase and a Freshfields team led by Global Transactions Partner Seb Lawson, who work on the Fund day-to-day in a multi-office and multi-practice team.

The Freshfields team advising on the development of an investor-friendly legal climate include experts in bonds, public international law, capital markets and investment funds. Freshfields’ seamless international integration means we can bring a wealth of expertise to the project, including in niche areas like impact investment and social impact bonds.

Seb Lawson is on a two-year pro bono secondment to assist Ukraine’s post-war construction and leads the firm’s multi-practice team on the project. “The Fund is the most interesting Ukraine-related project around and could make a massive difference, providing a platform for a huge amount of international assistance,” Seb says. “We need to be innovative as nothing quite like this has ever been done before.”

The Fund is involved in dialogues with various stakeholders, including the Ukrainian Government and agencies, as well as other national governments, development finance institutions and philanthropists. Given Ukraine’s accession to the EU is a priority in Kyiv and Brussels, Freshfields lawyers across the firm are providing training on antitrust law, EU regulation and harmonising Ukraine law.

Freshfields Senior Partner Georgia Dawson says: “We’re proud to work alongside the Ukrainian government as it looks to its future beyond the current crisis. As part of the firm’s ongoing commitment to Ukraine, the creation of this development fund will make a significant difference to the country’s post-war reconstruction to the ultimate benefit of the Ukrainian people.”

“There is a real need for innovation and creative thinking, and we have a duty to use our skills to deliver where there is such a clear need,” Seb explains. “This is challenging but vital work and we are all pushing ourselves. For me it’s been an absolute career high point – it’s incredible to be creating something that will benefit so many people.”

Freshfields’ other Ukraine-related work includes a corporate twinning project at Gateway Ukraine and Safe Ukraine 2030.