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Kazakhstan's bankers' banker

Grigorii Marchenko, chief executive of Halyk Bank and former governor of Kazakhstan's central bank, talks to Euromoney about bank capitalization, the development of consumer banking products, Kazakhstan's economic policy and the country's regional role.

By Simon Pirani

Could you comment on the state of Kazakhstan's banking sector? Is the low level of banks' capital base of concern?

Marchenko: looking for
a strategic investor

Banks have been growing much faster than the rest of the economy. Average GDP growth over the past five years was about 10% a year, whereas banking sector growth was 40% to 50%. Average banking sector assets rose by 57% last year; Halyk Bank's assets also increased by 57%. The large and medium-size banks are profitable but even this profitability is not a guarantee that they can grow organically: they need more capital. The banks' average capital ratio in Kazakhstan is substantially higher than in other countries. The financial supervisory authority here requires that banks maintain a minimum level of capital equal to 12% of risk-weighted assets, compared with the 8% required by the Basle Accord. For the banking system as a whole, the ratio is now about 14%; a few years ago it was 20%.

Banks are adopting a variety of approaches to this question. Some are attracting international financial investors: Kazkommertsbank has brought in the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development, which owns a 15% share.

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