Kazakhstan’s new stock exchange set for “test run” in December

Kazakhstan’s new stock exchange set for “test run” in December
The AIFC exchange has a deal with NASDAQ Inc. to use its matching engine trading platform.
By bne IntelliNews September 21, 2017

Kazakhstan’s new stock exchange at the Astana International Financial Centre (AIFC) is to be put through a test run before December 10, AIFC head Kairat Kelimbetov has said.

The country's exisiting bourse in largest Kazakh city Almaty is essentially widely regarded as a flop and analysts are none too sure that this second go in the capital will be a success either. The first exchange is part of the Almaty Regional Financial Centre, a financial hub initiative. The new exchange - to be 25.1%-owned by the Shanghai Stock Exchange (SSE) - will be promoted as part of the AIFC, a financial services hub to be run as a free economic zone modelled on Dubai’s International Financial Centre.

The AIFC's big selling point is its legal regime based on English common law. That has stirred some interest among international investors who will also be awarded special economic perks designed to attract legal and financial services companies, international banks and traders.

The exact launch date for the AIFC has long remained unclear. It was originally meant to commence operations as part of Astana's $5bn Green Energy EXPO, which concluded in early September having attracted far fewer visitors than hoped for. Then officials announced the launch would be postponed until 2018, a plan that came under pressure from Kazakh President Nursultan Nazarbayev on September 4 when he told a government meeting that “immediately [after EXPO] it must start working”.

In a separate development, on September 8, Kazakhstan’s sovereign wealth fund Samruk Kazyna said it was putting plans in place to float the Central Asian nation’s flagship airline Air Astana and leading uranium miner Kazatomprom as early as next year. Investment banks and legal advisers have been hired, but the exact size and location of the flotations had not yet been determined, it said. The IPOs were originally set to launch within 2017, but the fund has continuously postponed its goals or been unclear about its future deadlines. The Astana bourse will certainly hope to attract any green-lighted major flotations.

Fresh energy might also be brought to the AIFC by a plan to create a "highly progressive regulatory framework" for blockchain and cryptocurrency companies, in collaboration with Deloitte, Waves, Ukrainian law firm Justcutum and Kesarev Consulting, Bitcoin.com reported earlier in July.

In May, the AIFC exchange signed a deal with NASDAQ Inc. to use the NASDAQ matching engine trading platform.