ICU told about investing in Ukrainian startups. What is ICU

In mid-May, the ICU company for the first time spoke about its investments in Ukrainian startups, including Petcube, 3DLOOK, Hideez, etc. ICU was established back in 2007, but was associated with investments in other areas, not tech startups. Since the company’s representatives noted that in the future they plan to continue to invest in IT, AIN.UA prepared a brief background on ICU: what kind of company is it, who controls it, and where does the money come from? 


Who and when founded ICU

ICU is one of the largest investment companies in Ukraine. It was founded in 2007 by immigrants from a Ukrainian subsidiary of the Dutch ING Bank – Valeria Gontareva and Makar Pasenyuk. 

  • In 2007, Gontareva became the acting head of ING in Ukraine. After working in this position for several months, she wrote a letter of resignation to start her own investment business.
  • British hedge fund Autonomy Capital Research LLP agreed to become an investor in her project. It invested $10 million in the ICU’s Real Estate Fund and purchased 24.99% in equity of the group. 
  • Together with Gontareva, the founder of the company is an investment banker Makar Pasenuk. An important role in the development of the company was also played by Konstantin Stetsenko, who was responsible for the group’s trading operations in the stock market. 

Forbes dedicated a separate editorial piece to each of these “troika” at some point. Gontareva was called one of the best investors in the debt securities of Ukrainian issuers, Makar Pasenyuk was described as one of the best investment bankers in the country who made deals totaling more than $9 billion, and Konstantin Stetsenko was described as one of the best securities traders on the Ukrainian stock market. 

What does ICU do

After the crisis of 2008–2009, the group successfully invested in debt securities of state issuers, in particular banks, which allowed the company’s Funds to receive more than one hundred percent profitability. Later, the ICU focused on government bonds. A few years after its founding, the company firmly established itself as one of the leading players on the Ukrainian stock market. Almost every year the company was number one in the industry-specific ratings.

In 2014, when Petro Poroshenko became president of Ukraine, employees of ICU received the highest government posts:

  • Valeria Gontareva headed the National Bank of Ukraine,
  • Volodymyr Demchyshyn became Minister of Energy of Ukraine,
  • Dmitry Vovk became head of the National Commission for State Regulation of Energy and Public Utilities.

The departure of key people from the company did not hinder its development. At the same time, Pasenyuk practically became one of the key asset managers of the president. The company also worked on transferring the Roshen Corporation to a blind trust. 

The company also got into a number of investigative journalism stories: 

  • ICU was called Poroshenko’s aide when he tried to buy the “112” channel. The company itself denies the charges.
  • Journalists wrote about fictitious ICU deals with government bonds.
  • In March 2018, it became known that Cypriot Xomeric became the largest shareholder of Burger King in Russia, having bought nearly 17% of its shares from VTB. Xomeric Founder is a foundation tied to the ICU group. 

As indicated on the company’s website, the company is currently managing assets to the tune of $500 million, as well as assets of a number of pension funds. ICU is also a member of UVCA.