How the War in Ukraine Is Redefining PE’s Commitment to ESG

The Ukraine-Russia war is on everyone’s mind lately, as numerous companies, accounting firms and law firms have pulled out of Russia and severed ties with the regime despite the resultant financial consequences. Although some moves follow or are in anticipation of regulatory pressure, much of the self-sanctioning can be attributed to stakeholder activism, fears of taking reputational flack and possible crises of conscience. The decision is not necessarily cut and dried, however, as a number of distressed debt investors, fund managers, offshore law firms and private banks are weighing the benefits of denouncing Russia against the costs of no longer doing business in the jurisdiction. For example, distressed debt specialists Aurelius Capital Management, GoldenTree Asset Management and Silver Point Capital have reportedly indicated interest in Russian corporate bonds, whereas distressed debt hedge fund Gramercy stated that a bet on Russia is currently too risky. In a guest article, Ben Kunde, executive vice president at Interfor International, a global investigative and security consulting firm, explores how the war in Ukraine is forcing PE sponsors to act in light of their environmental, social and governance policies. The article also outlines considerations for PE funds to disentangle from investments or service providers with connections to Russia; ways to diligence investors to avoid unwittingly accepting blacklisted Russian investors; and the potential role of force majeure clauses in accomplishing those goals. See “Ways CCOs Are Approaching ESG in Light of Growing SEC Scrutiny” (Feb. 22, 2022).

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