Rakishev closes in on Kazkommertzbank

ALMATY, April 22 (The Conway Bulletin) — The finish line is now in sight for Kenes Rakishev, a Kazakh businessman linked closely to the country’s elite, who has seemingly made taking over Kazkommertsbank one of his priorities.

In this process control of Kazakhstan’s largest bank has been ripped from Nurzhan Subkhanberdin, a former opponent of Kazakh President Nursultan Nazarbayev.

A KazKom statement said that Mr Rakishev, 36, will buy out Mr Subkhanberdin’s remaining shares in the bank by the summer (April 20). Mr Rakishev is also poised to become the next chairman in May.

“[Mr Rakishev] is expected to chair the board of directors and Marc Holtzman, chairman, shall take the CEO position in May 2016 after the extraordinary general meeting of shareholders,” KazKom said earlier this month.

As of this week, Mr Rakishev owns a 71.23% stake in Kazkommertsbank. When he buys out the rest of Mr Subkhanberdin’s shares, his stake will rise to 86%. Samruk-Kazyna, the Kazakh sovereign wealth fund owns a 10.7% stake in KazKom and the rest is owned by unnamed minority shareholders.

This takeover started in February 2014 when, essentially, the Kazakh government started to offload  the debt-ridden BTA Bank onto KazKom and also to use it as a Trojan Horse to dislodge the London-based Mr Subkhanberdin.

Analysts have said the government, with Mr Rakishev as the nominated project leader, forced KazKom to buy BTA Bank from Samruk-Kazyna.

This weakened Mr Subkhanberdin’s control of the bank and started a process that has propelled Mr Rakishev to both being the owner and chairman of KazKom.

The eventual merger of KazKom and BTA Bank last year and the promotion of Mr Rakishev are the biggest changes to Kazakhstan’s banking sector since the Global Financial Crisis of 2008/9, but both the government and Mr Rakishev have been assiduous in avoiding commenting in public about it.

Even so, Mr Rakishev has developed an increasingly high public profile in Kazakhstan.
The son-in-law of the current Kazakh minister of defence, Mr Rakishev shot to prominence in 2008 as the go-between for Timur Kulibayev, President Nazarbayev’s son-in-law, and the British Royal Family when he bought an estate in England from Prince Andrew.

Since then, he has had a hand in some of Kazakhstan’s biggest business deals.
He also, officially, owns a 75% share in industrial holding Sat&Co. and a 20% stake in Central Asia Metals, a copper producer listed in London.

To this list he can now add KazKom.


>>This story was first published in issue 277 of the weekly Conway Bulletin newspaper. For more information on the Bulletin, please click here. To subscribe, for free, to the Bulletin’s daily newswire for Central Asia, please click here

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