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Kazakhstan: Corporates throw down funding challenge

Two of Kazakhstan’s leading companies are poised to fully test investor sentiment towards the central Asian state in the coming weeks, with big transactions in the debt and equity markets.

On the debt front, oil and gas firm KazMunaiGas (KMG) is in the market with a $3.1 billion syndicated loan, the proceeds of which will be used to help fund its acquisition of Romania’s Rompetrol. The unsecured one-year bridge loan, arranged by ABN Amro, Credit Suisse and Calyon, will cover the estimated $2.7 billion cost of buying an initial 75% stake in Rompetrol. The purchase, which was announced in August, marks KMG’s first overseas acquisition and will give it access to the downstream market in western as well as central and eastern Europe. Market participants believe that KMG will ultimately look to secure a 100% holding in Rompetrol.

With oil prices hovering around the $100 a barrel mark, KMG is expected to be able to find willing takers for its debt, in stark contrast to the country’s banks, which are struggling to convince debt and equity investors that they are not overleveraged and overexposed to the potentially risky real estate market in Kazakhstan.

Meanwhile, Eurasian Natural Resources Corporation (ENRC) is set to float at least 20% of its equity on the London Stock Exchange in an offering that could raise as much as $5 billion and values the company at $15 billion, propelling it into the FTSE100 index of leading stocks.

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