Kazakhstan

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OneWeb Ltd., a U.K.-backed satellite company, has been sued in the U.S. by a former Donald Trump business partner who claims he wasn’t paid for helping to secure rocket-launch rights in Kazakhstan, Bloomberg News reported. Giorgi Rtskhiladze, a Georgian-American businessman, said he played a role in helping OneWeb connect with business and government figures in Kazakstan, who paved the way for the company to launch satellites from the Baikonur Cosmodrome and to operate a ground station for its internet network, according to the lawsuit.
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Violent protests against the government in Kazakhstan led to intermittent internet shutdowns for a second day, as troops from a Russia-led military alliance arrived in the country to restore order. The lack of connectivity disrupted huge cryptocurrency mining operations in the country, which has become one of the world’s largest hubs for this activity, the New York Times reported. Creating, or mining, Bitcoin and other cryptocurrencies is a power-hungry process in which vast computer networks compete online for newly created crypto tokens.
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Mass protests in Kazakhstan over an increase in fuel prices have prompted the country’s authoritarian government to resign and the president to impose a state of emergency in a crisis that threatens to destabilize the oil-rich former Soviet republic, the Wall Street Journal reported. Kazakh President Kassym-Jomart Tokayev has declared a two-week curfew in Kazakhstan’s western Mangistau region and in Almaty, the country’s largest city. The restrictions include a ban on mass gatherings and limitations on movement. Mr.
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Kazakhstan’s cryptomining industry was initially boosted by China’s tightening grip on digital asset regulation, but some seven months down the line, it’s emerging that Kazakh-based miners are fed-up with electricity shortages, cryptoslate.com reported. Some miners report nearing bankruptcy due to the national grid’s inability to supply consistent power. Just as the country was emerging as a significant global cryptomining hub, it seems as though things have gone south as miners begin to leave. China had banned financial institutions from dealing with crypto transactions this past May.

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Sovereign wealth funds pulled $16.3 billion from public market investment strategies, largely equities, in the fourth quarter, the most in almost four years, driven largely by redemptions, according to data and research firm eVestment, Reuters reported. The move followed a year in which some funds, including those from Norway, Azerbaijan and Kazakhstan, planned withdrawals to help their governments cope with the coronavirus crisis. Net outflows from equity strategies managed by third-party fund managers reached $18.5 billion in the final three months of 2020, eVestment data showed.
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After a decade of efforts and $18 billion in state bailouts, Kazakhstan’s banking sector is still in a mess. Just ask the country’s president, Bloomberg News reported. “The financial system is sick,” President Kassym-Jomart Tokayev told a government meeting last month as he railed against declines in business lending and an increase in loans to consumers with little chance of repaying the money.

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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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