Almaty: A new Canary Wharf rises from the Steppes
Car parks that rival Monaco for the quality of the marques, apartment prices that rival those in New York, but a stock exchange capitalization of only $50 billion. That’s Almaty. Kazakhstan’s government hopes to develop its capital markets and create a financial centre there for all central Asia. The buildings are going up. Will there be enough tenants to fill them? Chloe Hayward reports from Almaty.
AS THE ARCHITECTS stepped off the plane in Almaty it was clear that they had accepted an extraordinary project. Everywhere you look, glass towers are being erected – a Canary Wharf lookalike is being created on the Steppes of central Asia.
Almaty, the financial centre of Kazakhstan, has ambitious plans. Poor liquidity, a limited number of listed companies and a lack of investors have all hampered KASE, Kazakhstan’s stock exchange. In recent weeks a board has been formed to advise and assist the government on correcting these problems. “Legislation is outdated and changes are needed,” says Michael Sauer, CEO of Visor Capital, a local investment bank. The Regional Financial Centre of Almaty (RFCA) is mandated to overhaul the stock exchange and create an environment that investors and issuers will want to use.
In October two large Kazakh companies brought equity offerings. The exploration and production subsidiary of KazMunaiGas (KMG) issued a global offering of 23,086,791 shares that were listed on KASE priced at KZT11,163.39 ($87.20), and GDRs that were listed in London priced at $14.64. The offer, worth the equivalent of $6.2