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TuranAlem tries to climb up the ladder

Bank TuranAlem is growing fast and has set its sights on toppling the largest bank in the country, Kazkommertsbank. The next stage in its growth strategy could involve an IPO to attract international investors.

Guy Norton reports from Almaty on the rise and rise of Bank TuranAlem and its push for market leadership in Kazakhstan.

Diversification, diversification, diversification. That’s the mantra being chanted by Bank TuranAlem (BTA) as it seeks to establish itself on the top rung of Kazakhstan’s banking ladder.

It’s been a remarkable ascent, given that the bank was initially formed in 1997 through the forced merger of TuranBank and Alem Bank which had both run into financial difficulties in the unstable banking environment in Kazakhstan in the mid-1990s.

Given that its arch-rival, Kazkommertsbank (KKB), which it is trying to surpass, was founded back in 1991, BTA’s rise to prominence is all the more remarkable. “We have developed more dynamically than KKB,” says Roman Solodchenko, BTA’s chief financial officer and deputy chairman, adding: “We expect to overtake KKB in the near future.” Not that being number one for number one’s sake bulks particularly large in Solodchenko’s list of priorities. “There’s a certain price tag attached to being the number one in any market and up until now KKB has been the bank most willing to pay that price,” he says, adding that BTA is more than happy to play second fiddle to KKB if that means it benefits from riding in KKB’s slipstream.

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