Kazakhstan planning massive privatisation campaign

By bne IntelliNews April 15, 2014

bne -

The Kazakh government is planning to launch a massive privatisation programme in the summer, officials announced on April 14. 

Stressing the hope that privatisation will boost efficiency at state-owned enterprises, and competitiveness in the local market, Astana is set to try again to offload state-owned assets. Many will be non-core assets currently held by the country's state-owned giants. 

"After the adoption of the necessary legislation, the process of preparing and transferring organisations of the quasi-state sectors to the competitive environment will start in May-June," Economy and Budget Planning Minister Yerbolat Dosayev told a news conference in Astana on April 14. He also said a single type of business entity will be developed for all companies and organisations that remain in state ownership. 

The government has drafted a list of 32 entities owned by the central government, 586 facilities owned by local governments and 191 operations run by the Samruk-Kazyna sovereign wealth fund through its subsidiaries, he added.

The chairman of the board at Samruk Kazyna, Umirzak Shukeyev, said that under the fund's restructuring programme it would get rid of 209 companies out of the 599 it currently manages overall. "This is not a final list but in numerical terms we are going to privatise or restructure 30% of our company. I am not talking about their value but number," he said.

By the end of 2016, the fund plans to privatise 103 subsidiaries of national companies. Those contributing assets include rail operator Kazakhstan Temir Zholy, oil and gas giant KazMunaiGas, nuclear holding Kazatromprom, utility Samruk-Energo, grid operator KEGOC and others.

While privatizing these non-core assets, the government says it will resurrect plans to float stakes in the parent companies. The "People's IPO" programme, designed to help revive the Kazakh Stock Exchange and encourage the population to invest in stocks, has struggled to gain traction in recent years. 

Shukeyev says that up to 10% in KEGOC, Kazatomprom, Samruk-Energo and Kazakhstan Temir Zholy will be launched on the market in 2015 and 2016. The government also hopes to float 49% in KazMunaiGas units KazTransGas Aimak and KazTransGas-Almaty, he added.

However, perhaps with the previous difficulties in mind, he cautioned that not all is set in stone. "We will put all efforts in implementing this programme within the deadlines set, but there may be delays conditioned by a number of factors: for example, companies' IPOs will depend on market conditions, while the sale of assets on the private sector's readiness to buy these assets," Shukeyev explained.

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