Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy on Wednesday is scheduled to meet in New York City with a who’s who of the nation’s top finance people, business leaders, diplomats and even a chef to discuss how private sector money can be used to help rebuild his war-torn country, FOX Business has learned.
The meeting was put together by JPMorgan, the big bank serving as Zelenskyy’s financial adviser to attract private capital for a new investment fund to rebuild Ukraine’s infrastructure destroyed in its war with Russia, according to people with knowledge of the matter.
Earlier in the afternoon, Zelenskyy met privately with BlackRock CEO Larry Fink, the sources say. BlackRock is the world’s largest asset manager and has also been advising Zelenskyy on how to attract U.S. private sector money for the rebuilding effort.
The list of invitees, according to sources, includes William Ackman, the head of hedge fund Pershing Square Capital; Ken Griffin of the Citadel investment empire; Jonathan Gray, president and chief operating officer of private equity powerhouse Blackstone; Philipp Hildebrand, a vice chairman at BlackRock; Michael Bloomberg, former New York City mayor and founder of Bloomberg LP; and Eric Schmidt, the former CEO of Google and now head of the Schmidt Futures, a philanthropic organization.
The people say the meeting could be called off at the last minute given Zelenskyy’s scheduled meeting in Washington, D.C., with President Biden. It’s also unclear if all those on the list have committed to attend.
JPMorgan executives in charge of the meeting didn’t respond to a call for comment.
The meeting, which hasn’t been publicly announced or reported on, was the brainchild of JPMorgan’s Mary Erdoes, who runs the firm’s asset and wealth management unit, and Vince La Padula, CEO of the firm’s wealth solutions unit. It’s scheduled to take place at around 4:30 p.m. ET at the Permanent Mission of Ukraine to the United Nations in midtown Manhattan.
On Tuesday, Zelenskyy addressed the U.N. General Assembly, calling on the world body to help his country prevail in its war against Russia, now seen as a stalemate between the two sides. He also discussed a plan to end the war and called on the U.N. to strip Russia of its powers over what he called war crimes against the Ukrainian people in its effort to annex the country.
Zelenskyy is expected to meet with Biden later this week to discuss U.S. aid to the country. The U.S. has given tens of billions of dollars in military and humanitarian assistance to Ukraine since Russia invaded the country in February 2022.
But before he travels to D.C., as expected later Wednesday night, Zelenskyy is scheduled to meet with JPMorgan’s bankers and some of the nation’s richest people — many of them billionaires — to discuss how private capital could be used to rebuild his country once the fighting ends, or even before, these people say.
In February, JPMorgan bankers met with Zelenskyy and his senior staff in Ukraine, where they discussed the creation of a fund seeded with $20 billion to $30 billion in private capital, according to people with direct knowledge of the matter.
Other ideas discussed with the Ukrainian president were the creation of a bank administered by Wall Street firms that would make investments in oil refineries, roads, bridges and other economic infrastructure destroyed during the fighting, these people add.
But bankers have been telling Zelenskyy the war is a significant obstacle in attracting private capital, given the uncertainty it creates. Another obstacle: Ukraine’s long history of corruption. Zelenskyy was said to be receptive to the advice and understood that, at some point, the vast amounts of Western aid to the country will come to an end and that private capital — which will demand a return for its investment — will be needed to rebuild, these people say.
As previously reported, JPMorgan bankers were on the ground in Kyiv and other cities dodging bombs and witnessing firsthand how the war has crippled the country’s economy. As a gesture of goodwill on the eve of the 2023 Super Bowl, the bankers also presented Zelenskyy with a New England Patriots jersey with the number 91 to signify the year Ukraine gained independence from the Soviet Union, these people say.
Kraft’s scheduled attendance at Wednesday’s planned meeting is interesting because the Patriots owner once claimed Putin stole one of his Super Bowl rings after a private meeting.