The material on this site is for financial institutions, professional investors and their professional advisers. It is for information only. Please read our Terms & Conditions, Privacy Policy and Cookies before using this site. Please see our Subscription Terms and Conditions.

All material subject to strictly enforced copyright laws. © 2022 Euromoney, a part of the Euromoney Institutional Investor PLC.

Banking: To have and to have not in central Asia

Given the different macroeconomic and political backdrops, the region’s banking sectors are characterized by sharply differing business fundamentals and prospects. Guy Norton looks at some winners and losers.

IN ESSENCE THE story of the various banking sectors in central Asia is about the haves and the have-nots. In oil-rich states such as Azerbaijan and Kazakhstan, which have the most developed economies, the banks generally have money. By contrast, in Kyrgyzstan and Tajikistan, which have yet to develop fully fledged market economies, the banks are generally strapped for cash. How else to explain the fact that you can get 18% interest on a three-month dollar deposit account at your average high street bank in Dushanbe, Tajikistan’s capital? Those adventurous souls willing to take on the added risk of the exposure to the Tajikistani somoni can look forward to being even more handsomely rewarded – to the tune of 22% or so.

Whether that ranks as a savvy investment or a reckless punt is open to question, but the fact that the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development is a shareholder in Tajikistan’s leading lender, Agroinvestbank – whose website labels itself a responsible bank – should give would-be depositors a modicum of comfort. Or should it? Lest we forget, the EBRD was also a stakeholder in Kazakhstan’s one-time leading bank, BTA, which last year reported $14 billion of losses, mostly as a result of alleged fraudulent behaviour by the bank’s former management; almost went bankrupt before it was taken over by the Kazakh government in an emergency nationalization; and recently left investors wearing savage 80% haircuts on their Eurobond holdings after a controversial restructuring of its nearly $17 billion of liabilities.

You have reached premium content. Please log in to continue reading.

Read beyond the headlines with Euromoney

For over 50 years, our readers have looked to Euromoney to stay informed about the issues that matter in the international banking and financial markets. Find out more about our different levels of access below.


Unlimited access to and

Expert comment, long reads and in-depth analysis interviews with senior finance professionals

Access the results of our market-leading annual surveys across core financial services

Access the results of our annual awards, including the world-renowned Awards for Excellence

Your print copy of Euromoney magazine delivered monthly

£73.75 per month

Billed Annually


Unlimited access to and, including our top stories, long reads, expert analysis, and the results of our annual surveys and awards

Sign up to any of our newsletters, curated by our editors


Already a user?

We use cookies to provide a personalized site experience.
By continuing to use & browse the site you agree to our Privacy Policy.
I agree