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Kazakhstan: Banks look forward to life after debt

Restructurings likely to lead to re-rating of financial sector risk; Domestic markets insufficient for future growth

Grigory Marchenko, National Bank of Kazakhstan

"The regulators did what they were supposed to do, but nothing more. They didn’t think out of the box or act pre-emptively"

Grigory Marchenko, National Bank of Kazakhstan

From being the emerging market banking sector of choice for much of the past decade, Kazakh banks now find themselves spurned by former supporters who feel let down by the reversal in the sector’s fortunes. As Askar Yelemessov, chairman of the supervisory board at investment bank Troika Dialog in Almaty, notes, after investors have suffered tens of billions of dollars of losses from exposure to the country’s financial institutions, the quickest way to ensure a brief telephone conversation with an emerging market fund manager has been to say you’re calling from a Kazakh bank. "The line will go dead instantly."

That state of affairs might begin to change in the wake of the completion of the restructuring of about $20 billion in debt racked up by one-time market leader BTA and other lenders, including Alliance Bank, Astana Finance and Temirbank.

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