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Ukraine: Polar Capital looks to Kiev for growth

London-listed asset management group Polar Capital is looking to launch a fund later this year to take advantage of the attractive investment opportunities it believes exists in Ukraine. Earlier this year, Polar relocated its head office for emerging Europe to Kiev from Moscow, citing the growing attractiveness of the Ukrainian economy.

"Ukraine is a country with under-penetrated goods and services markets with a population of 47 million and GDP per capita still below $3,000," says Anton Khmelnitski, director of emerging markets at Polar Capital. He adds that this means that there are plenty of opportunities to invest in companies that will benefit from consumption-led growth as real incomes in Ukraine converge with those in the rest of central and eastern Europe.

Khmelnitski says that, in the wake of the global credit crunch, there are more companies, unable to raise loans from the banking markets, that are coming to Polar Capital in search of much-needed expansion capital. "We want to have exposure to well-run, established franchises which benefit from strong domestic demand," he says, adding that preferred sectors include agriculture, engineering, financial services, pharmaceuticals, retail and technology.

Most recent investments have taken the form of minority stakes in companies that are still at a pre-IPO stage.

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