Banking reform in Kazakhstan questioned

LONDON, Sept. 10 (The Conway Bulletin) — Plans to increase the amount of capital held by Kazakh banks won’t solve all its structural weaknesses, the Standard & Poor’s ratings agency said in a new report (Sept. 8).

The Kazakh Central Bank has been trying to work out just how to improve its banking system ever since the global financial crisis of 2008/9 toppled three of the biggest banks. Only government takeovers saved the Kazakh banking system. Most recently the Central Bank said that from Jan. 1 2019, banks would have to hold a minimum of 100b tenge (roughly $550m), a ten-fold increase from the current requirements.

But although the increase in capitalisation requirements may force various mergers in the system and rid it of the smaller, more fragile, banks, the Kazakh Central Bank also needs to address serious structural weaknesses, Standards & Poors said.

“Although consolidation could create opportunities for the Kazakh banking sector over the long term, the system’s major weaknesses–the lenient banking regulation and supervision, banks’ aggressive risk management practices, and sometimes deficient corporate governance procedures are very likely to remain,” the report said.

And the move may even backfire.

“Furthermore, the resulting higher barriers to entry could lower the sector’s attractiveness to foreign investors,” Stand & Poors said.

There are currently 38 banks in Kazakhstan. Of these, 35, it has been estimated, would fail a move to a capitalisation of 100b tenge.


>>This story was first published in issue 199 of the weekly Conway Bulletin newssheet. For more information on the newssheet, got to

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