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Capital Markets

Kazakhstan: Government seeks stock market champion

In an attempt to establish an equity investment culture in Kazakhstan, the authorities in Astana have announced plans to launch a series of initial public offerings in state-controlled companies, in the hope of attracting widespread interest from ordinary local citizens.

The plan envisages stakes in electricity grid company Kegoc, postal operator Kazpost and Samruk-Energo, the power generation arm of sovereign wealth fund Samruk-Kazyna, being floated by the end of the year. Stakes in national oil and gas company KazMunaiGas, uranium miner Kazatomprom and national rail monopoly Kazakhstan Temir Zholy could be offloaded in 2012 or 2013.

Announcing the privatization drive at a meeting of his ruling Nur Otan political party in February, president Nursultan Nazarbayev said: "The ‘people’s IPO’ will give hundreds of thousands of ordinary Kazakhstani citizens the opportunity to own shares in major enterprises."

Although the Kazakhstan Stock Exchange (KASE), based in the commercial capital Almaty, is by far the largest bourse in Central Asia, turnover is far lower than on Russian exchanges. For example, Moscow’s Micex bourse typically reports daily trading volumes of over $2 billion, more than 40 times the level for the whole of January on the KASE.

Re-election

The announcement of the state disposals comes after Nazarbayev announced that he would seek re-election after he called a snap election in April, a year ahead of schedule.

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