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Banking

Kazakh banks still queasy after a borrowing binge

Kazakhstan’s banks have built up onerous debt repayments after a splurge of Eurobond issuance. Are they facing a liquidity crunch?

The biggest face onerous debt repayments in unpropitious domestic circumstances after a splurge of Eurobond issuance. With little activity about, only Halyk seems to be flourishing. Elliot Wilson reports from Almaty.

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ON THE SURFACE at least, rumours about the demise of Kazakhstan’s debt capital markets appear to have been greatly exaggerated. In early April, Halyk Bank, the country’s third-largest lender by market capitalization, surprised many by launching the first Eurobond issuance by a Kazakh lender since July 10 2007.

The $500 million five-and-a-half-year bond, underwritten by JPMorgan and UBS, came at a hefty premium, with a 9.5% yield. It attracted strong ratings – a BB+ by Standard & Poor’s and a Baa3 investment grade by Moody’s – and showed that Halyk Bank at least has access to global debt markets. It was also the first Eurobond issuance by a CIS region lender in 2008.

Dauren Karabayev, deputy chairman of the board at Halyk, tells Euromoney that the bank "wanted to leave something on the table" for investors. "The premium over the secondary curve that we paid was higher than in previous deals," he says. "Still, the transaction was very good in terms of price and tenor, and demonstrated our ability to raise financing in the international capital markets.

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