Serhiy Chrony (Managing Partner, Kyiv) and Paul Melling (founding partner, former Moscow office) both of Baker McKenzie, and Daniel Thoniley (President, DT Global Business Consulting) spoke about issues in banking and finance and restructuring in Ukraine and Russia since the escalation of hostilities in February 2022.
Serhiy and Paul reflected on their personal experiences in those respective countries since February, but also of the sense of optimism in Ukraine.
State-owned Ukrainian banks have not been released from their usual pre-February prudential constraints to be able to offer customers relief from their financial difficulties. Other Ukrainian banks have had greater freedom to negotiate with customers. During martial law, Ukrainian creditors have also been prevented from repaying principal to non-bank foreign lenders, and restricted in paying interest. The same limitations have not been applied to foreign financial institutions which have customers in Ukraine, providing a potential avenue when considering restructuring possibilities.
Despite obvious financial and practical difficulties, there has not been a wave of insolvencies in Ukraine yet, though opportunities to restructure, especially in the agricultural sector, are emerging.
Russian businesses have also been the subject of significant constraints, and there has been an obvious departure from Russia of foreign businesses.
Sydney based Baker McKenzie partners, Maria O’Brien and Gavin Rakoczy, moderated the panel.
Beyond the panel presentation today, the Baker McKenzie team has extensive experience from, and key learnings arising out, this year’s events. Lessons for clients learnt this year, when restructuring businesses in jurisdictions subject to sanctions, have included:
- monitor closely business dealings in jurisdictions restricted by sanctions laws. These laws can continue to evolve, and can impact on restructuring options;
- continue to assess the range of sanctions laws that may apply to the client’s board (for example, due to their citizenship). Limitations on individuals in key positions can impact on the ability for the business to make decisions;
- be alive to the fact that sanctioned activities can change at short notice.
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