When we launched the 2019 edition of the Ukrainian M&A Radar, few could have predicted the profound impact COVID-19 would have on the global population, the world economy or our daily lives in the year ahead.
With over 100 countries in full or partial lockdown by the end of March 2020, most economies around the world slid into recession despite governments and international financial institutions injecting billions of dollars to tackle the pandemic.
Beyond the economic impact, the pandemic has ushered in long-lasting changes to our lives. Global digital transformation has accelerated for businesses, consumers and individuals alike; remote and hybrid working has become the norm rather than the exception. Video calls for work and socialising, together with e-commerce, are now a mainstay of our lives. Such effects will continue to drive M&A as an agent for change.
Lockdown saw a sharp decline in human activity, leading to a global awakening to the negative impact mankind can have on our planet. This propelled environmental, social, and corporate governance (ESG) issues up the political and corporate agenda, putting them prominently into focus for a wider pool of investors.
In the face of new waves and variants of COVID-19, the approval of several vaccines and the rollout of vaccination programmes around the world, including in Ukraine, raises hopes that we may see a turning point in both the pandemic and its economic impact in 2021. Investor confidence in Ukraine will to some extent depend on how Ukraine resolves ongoing issues, such as the dispute with the Constitutional Court of Ukraine, the Ukrainian government’s near USD1 billion debt to RES producers, and protracted negotiations with the IMF over the Stand-By Arrangement. These are the most immediate concerns affecting confidence and investors will be watching to how they are handled in the months ahead.
Despite these headwinds, Ukraine and the United Arab Emirates signed investment memoranda worth USD3 billion in February 2021. Such a statement of intent will not have gone unnoticed by others eying Ukraine's investment potential. There are reasons, therefore, to be cautiously optimistic about the outlook for Ukrainian M&A and wider investment in the country in the coming year.
We hope you will find the 2020 edition of the Ukrainian M&A Radar both insightful and thought provoking.