Uzbekistan looks to boost local capital markets after eurobond success
Lifting restrictions on foreign investors and encouraging local corporate bond issuance top list of priorities for head of new capital markets agency.
The head of Uzbekistan’s new capital markets agency is hoping to build on the success of the country’s debut sovereign eurobond sale to attract foreign banks and investors to its domestic market.
Atabek Nazirov, a former Goldman Sachs banker who returned to his homeland last May after eight years at the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development (EBRD), was tapped in late January to lead the restructuring of Uzbekistan’s capital markets.
“We are aggressively looking into all the obstacles in our legal environment and infrastructure to assess what we can do to give traction to our capital markets in the short term, as well as developing a comprehensive strategy that will lay the foundations for a long-term holistic approach,” he says.
Under authoritarian post-Soviet leader Islam Karimov, Uzbekistan was off-limits to foreign portfolio investors due to a combination of corruption, lax corporate governance and increasingly draconian capital controls. Since Karimov’s death in 2016, his successor, Shavkat Mirziyoyev, has pushed through a series of reforms designed to open up the country to external capital, including a move to full currency convertibility in September 2017.
Barriers to investment in local capital markets, however, have been slower to fall.