Kazakh banking: RZB returns to Kazakhstan
Raiffeisen International, the central and eastern European banking arm of Austria’s RZB Group, has announced plans to establish a greenfield operation in Kazakhstan.
"We have been observing this market for a long time and we believe that now is a good time to make this step"
"Due to its economic potential and politically stable environment, Kazakhstan is an attractive market," says Herbert Stepic, Raiffeisen International’s chief executive. "We have been observing this market for a long time and we believe that now is a good time to make this step." Raiffeisen had previously hoped to crack the Kazakh banking market through BTA (formerly Bank TuranAlem) in which it built a 7.7% minority stake in 2001. But it failed to come to an agreement over an acceptable price for majority control and sold its holding in August 2006 to a group of Scandinavian investment funds led by East Capital, registering a €102 million profit in the process. In the interim it has concentrated on building its leasing business in the country, which is in the top three in a fast-growing market segment.
Raiffeisen is reported to have considered the purchase of stakes in several existing banks – including, ironically, BTA subsidiary Temirbank – but has concluded that an organic rather than an acquisition-led approach makes most sense.