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Kazakhstan prepares for IPO takeoff

After a long dormancy, Kazakhstan's equity market might be about to wake up, thanks to some large IPOs.

Tennes: PetroKazakhstan
has had difficulties

KAZAKHSTAN HAS IN recent years prided itself on outrunning Russia in financial sophistication. The sovereign is higher rated, the debt markets arguably more innovative and the private pension fund sector far more developed. The financial regulatory infrastructure of the market is considered the best in the former Soviet Union. However, in one area, Russian capital markets have stolen a lead on Kazakhstan – IPOs. Although about $3 billion in new issues has come from Russia in the past two years, Kazakhstan has barely had any IPOs at all. This despite the country having a domestic pension fund system to rival that of Poland, which has the most IPOs of any eastern European country.

This situation might be about to change, as some of the biggest Kazakh companies are preparing for foreign listings later this year. The juiciest offering looks set to come from KazMunaiGaz (KMG), the huge state-owned oil and gas monopoly. A subsidiary of the company, KazMunaiGaz Exploration and Production, is preparing to list 40% of itself – 20% on the London Stock Exchange and 20% on the Almaty Exchange.

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