Kazakhstan

The new chief of Kazakhstan’s central bank dodged a debt claim in 2014 thanks to a legal system that’s failed to protect lenders from rampant defaults and repeated crises, Bloomberg News reported. In 2014, Yerbolat Dossayev and three business partners were given a reprieve on repaying 1.9 billion tenge, then worth $13 million, that they’d personally guaranteed to the central Asian country’s biggest bank at the time. It’s not clear whether the debt was ever repaid.

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The Kazakh authorities are urgently looking for a bank to take over no. 2 lender Tsesnabank as they believe it needs new financing to prevent a collapse, three sources familiar with the discussions told Reuters. Officials from the government and central bank have approached at least three other Kazakh banks and hope to tie up a deal in February, the sources said. They are offering financial incentives for any bank prepared to take it over, Reuters reported.

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Kazakhstan May Merge Oil, Pension Funds

Kazakhstan may merge its $23 billion state pension fund with the $57 billion oil fund in order to streamline their management, President Nursultan Nazarbayev said on Monday, Reuters reported. The state pension fund suffered a credibility crisis this year when its former chief executive Ruslan Yerdenayev and other managers were charged with embezzlement over a purchase of bonds issued by a local company in exchange for bribes. The trial started last month. Lawyers have told Kazakh media the executives - who have been sacked by the fund - have denied the charges against them.
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Kazakhstan is running out of time to get the banking system back on its feet. Even after undertaking its biggest rescue since the 2009 global credit squeeze with a 2.4 trillion-tenge ($7.6 billion) bailout of Kazkommertsbank, the rest of the nation’s lenders will require at least 500 billion tenge more to mend balance sheets, according to National Bank of Kazakhstan Governor Daniyar Akishev. But the state aid will come with strings attached, Bloomberg News reported.
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Shockwaves from a default by the biggest bank in Azerbaijan are spreading to its neighbor on the opposite shore of the Caspian Sea, Bloomberg reported. Already burned by the International Bank of Azerbaijan’s missed payment and its effort to wrest a 20 percent principal writedown in a proposed debt restructuring, investors are starting to wonder if Kazakhstan’s Kazkommertsbank is the next domino to fall. Its $250 million of subordinated bonds are trading below par only two weeks before maturity, a sign the bank’s ability to come through is in doubt.
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The bankruptcy of Toshiba Corp's U.S. unit Westinghouse Electric Co will have no negative impact on the finances of its minority shareholder Kazatomprom, the Kazakh uranium miner said on Wednesday. Kazatomprom said in a statement that it held a put option that would allow the firm to sell its entire 10 percent stake in Westinghouse back to Toshiba at the price of the original purchase, Reuters reported. Kazatomprom, which paid $540 million for the stake in 2007, did not explicitly say whether it would execute the option.
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Kazakhstan’s Halyk Bank may have to inject at least 230 billion tenge ($738 million) into Kazkommertsbank, the troubled lender it’s set to buy for less than $1 after a state bailout, according to two people with knowledge of the matter. The cash, coming after the government stumps up 2.4 trillion tenge to shift off Kazkommertsbank’s balance sheet its loans to BTA Bank, would enable the lender to keep operating, the people said, asking not to be identified given the sensitivity of the matter.
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Kazakhstan is considering a 2.1 trillion-tenge ($6.5 billion) plan this year to restore banks to health, widening its budget deficit and tapping its oil wealth fund to cover the costs, Bloomberg News reported. Finance Minister Bakhyt Sultanov proposed the additional spending Monday in a presentation to the cabinet, according to a website statement.
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For a man working to restore investor confidence in Kazakhstan’s central bank, the profit that governor Daniyar Akishev made betting bank money on the correct outcome of Britain’s Brexit referendum will go some way to convincing sceptics that he is a man with the smarts for the task, the Financial Times reported.
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Kazakhstan’s president certainly caught the imagination of the City of London. In closed-door meetings last week, Nursultan Nazarbayev and other Kazakh officials said the commodity-rich central Asian nation would unload hundreds of companies, including its industrial crown jewels, in the most ambitious privatisation drive since its independence from the Soviet Union, the Financial Times reported.
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