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Kazakhstan: Nurbank looks to leave school for scandal

New shareholder comes on board; Sufficient funds to hand to repay Eurobond

Kazakhstan’s Nurbank is settling down to life under new ownership after a difficult few years involving an extortion scandal and the financial crisis.

Nurbank chairman Marat Zairov, who joined the bank last year from leading retail specialist Halyk Bank, says that the lender now has a brighter future and he hopes to propel it back up the rankings.

His efforts have already paid dividends, with deposits rising by 50% in 2009 and net profits increasing sixfold from a paltry KT129 million ($865,000) in 2008 to KT762 million.

Zairov says: "After the difficulties of 2007/08 we saw a stabilization of the bank in 2009 thanks to the expansion of our network and the range of products and services we offer." Nurbank is targeting a KT1 billion net profit this year.

Zairov adds that the bank has also serviced its international obligations and he claims that the bank has the cash on hand to repay a $150 million Eurobond, which comes due in May 2011. He says that Nurbank’s traditionally conservative approach to banking, which focused on the retail and small and medium-sized enterprises market segments and eschewed excessive borrowing or lending, has ultimately stood it in good stead during the downturn in the Kazakh banking sector’s fortunes.

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