Kazakhstan’s elite start investing in global tech companies

SEPT. 21, 2012 — Kazakh elite are buying into global tech companies, diversifying their investment portfolios Kenges Rakishev is a man with many different interests.

STORY — The 33-year-old is reportedly close to Timur Kulibayev, the son-in-law of president Nursultan Nazarbayev, and was, officially at least, the purchaser of Prince Andrew’s Sunninghill Estate in England in 2007.

The deal caused a storm in the British press as Mr Rakishev paid $24m for the estate, $5m over the asking price. Sunninghill has also been derelict since the deal.

More recently, though, Mr Rakishev, who is a director of numerous Kazakh companies including the industrial conglomerate SAT & Co, has taken a close interest in global tech companies.

In May 2012 he invested $32m in Net Element, a Florida-based technology company. Last month Mr Rakishev invested $5m in cloud-computing company TriPlay and now the Israeli press have reported that he has spent another $20m on a photo and video sharing company called Mobli.

For many analysts, Mobli is a rival of Instagram, the photo manipulation software that Facebook bought for $1b
in April 2012.

The Russians have invested in global tech stocks for years — memorably, in 2009 Digital Sky Technologies, a Russian company, bought an 2% stake in Facebook for $200m. Mr Rakishev’s recent forays suggest that the Kazakh elite have adopted a similar strategy and are looking to widened their investments out of heavy industry, minerals and energy, their natural home.

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