The First Land Forum on “Access to finance and leasing”, organized by EUCON Legal Group, took place in Kyiv on November 29. Representatives of government agencies, banks, leasing and finance companies, business entities and the agro-sector came together to discuss ways to find new sources of finance for farmers, support programs available for development, credit and leasing, future projects and outline future prospects.
The Event began with a welcome speech of organizers and, in combination with moderators of the first panel discussion on “Where Ukrainians will earn money for Land Purchase”, namely, Yaroslav Romanchuk, attorney-at-law, managing partner of EUCON Legal Group, Anatolii Miroshnychenko, attorney-at-law, senior partner of the EUCON Legal Group, Ph.D. Thus, Yaroslav Romanchuk noted that the main purpose of the Forum is to discuss access to finance and the state’s readiness to assist business in implementing new tools issues. Anatolii Miroshnychenko emphasized on the shifting focus of the discussion from the decision on the opening the land market to the mechanisms of access of potential buyers and users of land to new tools.
Inna Meteleva, the Deputy Minister at Ministry of Economic Development, Trade and Agriculture of Ukraine, told participants in detail about new financial instruments, including the draft of new law. In addition, the speaker noted that the new state budget provides financial support for farmers and cheaper interest rates. “The main reason for not making loans available to farmers is the absence of knowledge of the requirements and the absence of the ability to pledge”, Ms Meteleva said. Thus, according to the expert, the state will continue to assume risks associated with repayment of loans to banks, as well as control through the establishment of a farm register.
Lina Dotsenko, PhD, CEO at BRIDGES (USA), drew participants’ attention to the fact that the reform will contribute to the development of credit and insurance in Ukraine. According to the speaker, the main challenge for the farmer is to get a loan and be able to close that loan. Ms. Dotsenko also shared details of the American experience of such instruments, and stated that Ukrainian experts will be able to communicate with their American colleagues and learn from their experience.
According to Oleksiy Mushak, an adviser to the Prime Minister of Ukraine, the main problem is “pulling out of the shadows” of 40% of the land market. Advisor emphasized that only Ukrainians would buy the land pursuant to the new law, and the largest agroholdings would not be able to buy the land.
Mykola Gorbachev, the President of the Ukrainian Grain Association said that the only body that can provide farmers with any guarantees is the state. In addition, the expert outlined the functions of the state in the aspect of land reform.
Dmytro Livch, the Head of analytical department, project manager of EasyBusiness, focused on the fact that Ukraine should implement the most liberal market system within the realities. The speaker also drew the attention of audience to the need for business transparency, professional advice to farmers and increasing the level of insurance.
The second session was devoted to practical aspects of access to credit and leasing programs. This session was moderated by Ruslan Chorny, Chief Editor of the Information Agency “Financial Club”.
Oleksii Stupak, Director of Corporate Business Sales of “Alfa Bank” JSC, opened the session with a presentation on “Bank’s requirements to the borrower/farm”. The speaker told participants about ways to finance farms, focused on the issues of the future market format, registers, illegal transition from owner to owner. Mr. Stupak emphasized that opening up the land market would not only boost agriculture but also enable farmers to move to a new level of technology: “The development of the land market will make it possible to attract money into working capital and move to more efficient technologies with the possibility of obtaining harvest…”.
Sergii Gunko, Project Management Specialist (“Agrarian receipts in Ukraine” Project, IFC), within the topic “Agrarian Receipts: Effective Practices of Attracting Financing” spoke about peculiarities of implementation of the project of introduction of agrarian receipts in Ukraine, work of the register of agricultural receipts, request for credit programs with the opening of the land market, determining the agrarian receipt and the limits of its use, etc.
Andrey Pavlushin, CEO of “OTP Leasing”, speaking on the topic “Land purchasing is not enough, it still needs to be cultivated. What leasing programs can be used by an agrarian company? ”, presented the leasing programs of “OTP Leasing” company, agrarian portfolio of “OTP Leasing”, told about the types of leasing which the company works with, the process of selling equipment through leasing and bank support for agrarian receipts.
Andrii Martyn, the Deputy chairman of the Council of the “Land Union of Ukraine”, appraiser, Doctor of Economics, noted that the price of Ukrainian lands cannot correspond to the European ones, and the value of the land depends on the profitability of the property. The speaker also outlined the activities of land appraisers in Ukraine, the process of price comparison, the average rent for land, the exposure of goods on the market, etc.
The last one during the session was a speech by Volodymyr Shalaev, Managing Partner of the “UVECON” Group of Companies, FRICS, on the topic “Market valuation of land as pledge”. Thus, the expert noted that there is a need to reduce the capitalization rate, and that Ukraine is ready for an objective market valuation of the land pledge. In addition, the specialist focused on the features of methods of conducting market valuation.
The Forum ended with a third session on “Buying land for credit: legal and tax implications. Risks, challenges and Protection Against Raiding”, moderated by Svetlana Pozova, Vice President of the “All-Ukrainian Accounting Club Balance”.
Yaroslav Romanchuk within the topic of “Transparent ownership structure, impeccable reputation of the owner and the head of the farms – relevant requirements to the borrower” told about the organizational and legal forms of agrarian enterprises, the importance of transparency of corporate structure, limited partnerships, compliance analysis and others.“The most valuable asset for an agricultural worker is his reputation”, the speaker emphasized.
Larysa Vrublevska, Auditor, Head of Accounting and Tax Practice at EUCON Legal Group, told in detail about requirements for accounting and tax accounting of the farm/borrower, i.e. noting that the financial statement is a source for analysis; she also stressed that accounting in farms depends on organizational form; accounting should testify to the sustainability and perspective of the business, etc. According to the expert, the accounting policy is an important aspect because properly organized accounting policy is a necessary prerequisite for the protection of property rights and legitimate interests of the farmer.
Yevgen Petrenko, attorney-at-law, head of Business Protection Practice at EUCON Legal Group, shared with participants the information on agro-raiding in Ukraine. There was the relevance of the topic on raiding in Ukraine and there will be, as evidenced statistics on the level of raiding, which was mentioned by Yevgen Petrenko. According to the speaker, the most successful tool for protection against raiding is a consistent, balanced policy in the corporate structuring of business, the transparency of accounting, the clear vertical management of the company. In order to protect the company from raiding, attorney-at-law recommended on conducting a legal audit (due diligence) of the company, developing company standards and conducting training for company staff. “As a consequence, in order not to become a victim of raiding, everyone should be prepared for it”, – Yevgen Petrenko summed up his speech.
Anatolii Miroshnychenko, within the topic “Important aspects of the legal “purity” of the land being purchased” spoke about the land plot purpose, the issue of a title, leased land plots and “renewed” land lease agreements. Particularly, the speaker paid attention to the problems that may arise during the renewal of land lease agreements, namely, the ambiguity of the interpretation of the law on land lease. Thus, according to Mr. Miroshnychenko, some formulations of the law can be interpreted as an automatic renewal of the lease agreement, while others indicate the need for the concluding additional agreement. Most importantly, there is still no unity in the court practice on this issue. “It may be a surprise for the landlord and the tenant the fact that the previous tenant continues to claim on the land. On the other hand, the previous tenant can reasonably expect that the lease agreement was automatically renewed, but the land plot was transferred to another person, ” – Anatolii Miroshnychenko emphasized.
In conclusion, Vasyl Kuzmych, a private notary, discussed legal subtleties of the notarization of the sale-purchase land plot agreement and land plot pledge agreement. The speaker noted that the following documents shall be submitted when concluding a sale-purchase land plot agreement: a state act on land or it can be a certificate of inheritance right, a sale-purchase agreement, as well as an extract from the state land cadastre and expert evaluation of land plot.
Participants of the event were able to continue their communication with experts after the main part of the forum, including discussing some aspects of the issues, new ideas and projects, sharing their impressions and answering all the questions. The Forum was marked by the productive work, a constructive discussion of outlined topics, active discussions and big plans for the future. The team of the EUCON Legal Group thank all participants and partners and look forward to seeing in the future! Stay tuned!