Samruk: the outsider’s inside story
Kazakhstan’s president, Nursultan Nazarbayev, has decreed the creation of a state holding company, roughly on Singaporean/Malaysian lines, to oversee and rationalize the country’s lucrative but inchoate collection of state-owned companies and foster corporate governance. A British corporate warhorse, Sir Richard Evans, has been hired to pull the operation together. Eric Ellis reports on a confrontation of cultures.
A BROAD CAROLINAS accent drawls out across the conference rooms of the Radisson Hotel in Kazakhstan’s new capital, Astana. The American is teaching the basics of corporate governance to a seminar of youthful managers at Kazakhstan’s just-born $40 billion state holding company, Samruk. Some are so young they have acne. "Guys, this part is important!"
The lecturer is a bald late-career consultant from Ernst & Young, doing his bit for post-Soviet reform and, doubtless, per his generous fee for this hardship post, his retirement fund.