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Q&A with Richard Evans, Chairman of Samruk: “Our mandate is to make two and two add up to more than four”

Richard Evans says he took a lot of convincing before he became chairman of Samruk Holdings. It’s no wonder – among the challenges he faces are to make sense of a sprawling set of government-owned companies, and to deal with governance issues and allegations of corruption. But in an interview with Eric Ellis, Evans and Samruk’s deputy chief executive, Ulf Wokurka, say it’s well worth the challenge.

Samruk: the outsider’s inside story

Richard Evans, Samruk

"You go around the organization, there’s a lot of talent and there’s a hell of lot of knowledge in these businesses but there is no mechanism for sharing it. There’s a silo mentality"
Richard Evans, Samruk

How did you, a British businessman, come to be the chairman of Kazakhstan’s premier state company?
EVANS: I was introduced to Nazarbayev on one of his early trips to the UK by (then Prime Minister Tony) Blair while I was still at BAE, and Blair was anxious that the UK should help one of the fledgling former Soviet states. Out of that conversation, in about 2001, came discussions about BAE helping fix the national carrier and reforming the aviation sector here. That led to: "Why don’t you come and set up the new airline for us?" We [BAE] first helped draft legislation for the industry and a few months later Nazarbayev told me it had been enacted.