Kazakhstan prepares for bank sales

Published: May 3, 2011

"We are ready to sell”, says government minister.

Kazakhstan’s government is ready to sell its nationalised banks and hopes to attract international investors in the process, its minister of economic development and trade says.

Speaking to EMEA Finance at the 4th Astana Economic Forum, Kairat Kelimbetov, who became minister after his role as head of national welfare fund Samruk-Kazyna, said the government plans a privatisation programme worth “billions of dollars”, principally undertaken through initial public offerings. As well as state-owned oil and gas and telecoms companies, banks are on the block.

Following bail-outs during the financial crisis, the government now owns three banks – BTA, Alliance Bank and Temirbank – as well as holding stakes in others. But as these institutions have restructured debts and cleaned their balance sheets, state involvement is lessening. In March, local lender Halyk Bank bought back KZT27bn (US$185mn) in common shares held by Samruk-Kazyna.

“We are ready to sell all of the shares which belong to the government,” said Kelimbetov regarding the privatisation of the banks. Asked if stakes would be offered on the stock market or touted to private buyers given talk of an impending deal between Alliance and the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development (EBRD), he added: “We are first of all looking for investors like the EBRD in banks like Alliance and Temir.”