Economic News in Brief

National oil and gas company KazMunayGas (KMG) plans to sell 50 percent of its shares in the consortium developing the giant Kashagan oil field, Reuters reports. KMG owns a 16.8 percent stake in the project and plans to sell the shares to Kazakhstan’s Samruk Kazyna Sovereign Wealth Fund, which in turns own KazMunayGas, for an expected $4.7 billion and use the funds to reduce its debt. KMG’s consolidated net debt was $17.92 billion at the end of 2014, according to Reuters. Meetings on the debt and the sale will be held in London on July 27. Production at Kashagan, the largest oil find in decades, has been delayed for years but is expected to resume in early 2017.

Shares of three of Kazakhstan’s national companies – energy holding Samruk-Energo, rail company Kazakhstan Temir Zholy and atomic energy company Kazatomprom – are expected to be made available to the public on Kazakhstan’s stock exchange this year, reports. The National IPO programme has already floated shares of the Kazakhstan Electric Grid Company (KEGOC) and KazTransOil.

Kazakhstan has attracted about $33 billion in foreign direct investment during its first five-year industrialisation programme. Half of the investment went to the State Programme for Industrial-Innovative Development, President of Kazakhstan Nursultan Nazarbayev said at a ceremony commemorating the Day of Industrialisation on July 2. The second five-year industrialisation plan will focus on oil refining and metallurgy, food, chemical industries, industrial equipment and construction materials, he said.

Banks in Kazakhstan have seen increased volumes of deposits in the national currency, tenge, and decreased volumes of deposits in foreign currency between January and May of this year, Azer News reports. Tenge deposits increased from 5.198 trillion tenge (US$27.91 billion) at the end of 2014 to 5.472 trillion tenge (US$29.38 billion). The volume of foreign currency deposits in Kazakh banks decreased from 6.496 trillion tenge (US$34.88 billion) at the end of December 2014 to 5.975 trillion tenge (US$32 billion) at the end of May 2015. The total amount of deposits banks in Kazakhstan in all currencies fell from 11.694 trillion tenge (US$62.8 billion) at the end of 2014 to 11.447 trillion tenge (US61.47 billion) at the end of May.

The European Bank of Reconstruction and Development (EBRD) has moved to a new, larger office in Astana, which reflects its growing investment in the country, an EBRD press release on July 11 said. Kazakh Vice Minister of Finance Ruslan Beketayev and EBRD Vice President and Chief Risk Officer Betsy Nelson cut the ribbon at the new office. The larger premises were urgently needed, the bank reports, because of rapidly expanding involvement in Kazakhstan following the signing of an Enhanced Partnership Agreement with the country in May 2014. So far this year, the EBRD team in Kazakhstan has signed 16 projects for $501 million, making Kazakhstan the EBRD’s fastest-growing portfolio.

The value of Kazakhstan’s national companies declined in the first quarter of 2015, according to the Halyk IPO website. The total revenue of the group of companies during that period decreased by 13 percent to $1.42 billion, falling to a four-year low. Analysts say implementation costs were higher this year, and also ascribe the losses to difficult economic conditions around the world as well as large debts in dollars held by some of the companies.

Belarus and Kazakhstan have the potential to increase bilateral trade by 10 percent annually, Chairman of the Committee on Agriculture of the Mazhilis (lower chamber of Parliament) of Kazakhstan Romin Madinov told reporters before meeting with members of the Belarusian National Assembly on July 9, the National Belarusian News Agency reports. Today, trade turnover is $1.2 billion, he said. Madinov led a parliamentary delegation on a visit to Belarus between July 9–13, where they met with their counterparts and visited agricultural facilities.

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