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Kazakhstan: Mixed messages from banking sector persist

International investors clearly still have faith in the growth prospects for banks in Kazakhstan, despite the fact that the global credit crunch has hit the country harder than arguably anywhere else in emerging Europe. In late June, Alnair Capital, a private equity group backed by capital from Abu Dhabi’s Sheikh Tahnoon Bin Zayed Al Nayhan, announced its intention to take a 25% stake in Kazkommertsbank, the country’s second-biggest bank by assets.

Credit Suisse and Renaissance Capital are advising Alnair Capital on the deal. The Alnair transaction, coupled with the purchase in March of a 30% stake in Bank CenterCredit, the sixth-largest bank in Kazakhstan, by Korea’s Kookmin Bank, shows that strategic investors have faith in the long-term future of the banking sector. This is despite its being hit hard by the global credit crunch as much of the recent growth in the sector had been funded by heavy borrowing in the international bond and loan markets.

Other potential sales include that of retail banking specialist Temirbank, whose Kazakh parent, BTA Bank, is seeking to offload it to boost its own balance sheet.

Halyk Bank, meanwhile, which has replaced Kazkommertsbank as the bellwether banking play in the central Asian state, disappointed analysts with its first-quarter results.

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