NUR-SULTAN – As part of the 2019 Astana Finance Days, the Astana International Financial Centre’s (AIFC) Bureau for Continuing Professional Development (BCPD) organised Getting Trained for IPO (Initial Public Offering) seminars July 1 for Kazakh companies which are considering entering international capital markets and attracting foreign investments. The meetings involved approximately 50 companies.
“Within the first half of this year, we have been working very closely with investment projects, enterprises and firms. We asked them what kind of needs they have. They all need investments to expand their capacity… From the other side, we were on board with a few large institutional investors to the AIFC… It’s good – we have investors who want to invest and projects that need them. But in this half year, we realised that there is a gap in projects’ investability – what the projects are and what investors want,” AIFC Deputy Board Chair Yernur Rysmagambetov told The Astana Times.
To close the gap, the AIFC team developed a series of workshops for companies willing to venture into the international market, attract foreign investments and launch an IPO.
“We decided to take a proactive approach and initiate a series of workshops and trainings to educate these projects’ holders and companies on what kind of things they need to have to make their companies investable, to attract foreign investors and, the grand goal, to do an IPO,” he added.
To help companies reach their goals, AIFC promotes the idea of educating their staffs to meet international standards and properly and professionally execute all stages of IPO preparation.
“Doing an IPO is hard, but actually being a public company is even harder, because you need to react faster and have an internationally certified staff. Once you have engaged in any performance of investment agreement as a foreign investor, you have certain liabilities. We felt like most of the companies in Central Asia and Kazakhstan are not ready… to be in such environment,” he said.
In the last two years, BCPD has created professional development programmes for accountants, financial analysts, investment managers and risk managers and in human resources, corporate governance and English common law. The organisation is now planning to gather the courses into a single training, the first step of which is Getting Trained for IPO. The next step is to select companies which will continue working with AIFC in September, further educating their staff and expanding their capacity.
“What we are trying to do right now is combine all these programmes into one single large programme which we call Getting Trained for IPO… and work with the companies which are seriously willing to attract foreign investors, want to teach their staff first and upgrade their company… If you are thinking about going international, we are promoting the idea of investing in your own staff and capacity and then going to international markets,” said Rysmagambetov.
Leading experts in key competence areas with international certifications in investment management, risk management, accounting and auditing and personnel management attended the event. The speakers examined practical aspects such as corporate governance, legal support and building relations with investors before, during and after the IPO.
Akshu Campbell-Holt, AIFC Authority senior adviser, spoke about corporate management in the Fourth Industrial Revolution. She noted “the key factors surviving it are environment, social and governance (ESG) investments” that outperformed “traditional investments” in the last several years.
“Companies that have integrated robust ESG practices have displayed lower cost of capital, lower volatility and even fewer instances of bribery, fraud and corruption. These are what we’d like to see as stakeholders of a company,” she said.
“I believe that sustainability is a strong contender to become a new norm in making investment decisions in general,” she added.
Alexander Van de Putte, AIFC Academic Council chair and Governor’s Council Chief Strategy Officer, moderated the workshop. He talked about the importance of diversity in company structure, particularly in gender, age, ethnicity and most importantly mindset that directly influence decision making in the company. He also showed a timetable presenting the method of implementing corporate governance in pre-IPO companies.
In the first half of the training, participants learned about the audit and governance needs of small and medium businesses from Vikas Aggarwal, Chartered Certified Accountants (ACCA) regional head of Policy for Emerging Markets; investor relations from AIFC chief private banking officer Heiner Hartwich; human resources, particularly long term motivation strategies of top managers during IPO preparation, from Korn Ferry senior consultant Irina Chernozubova, and IPO regulations, particularly preparing a prospectus for investors to familiarise themselves with companies where they want to invest, from Semion Issyk, a lawyer with Zan Hub.