The Kazakh government is set to issue a sovereign Eurobond this year, after putting off a plan to raise $1bn last year. Should it go ahead, it would be Astana's first foray onto the international markets for 13 years.
Finance Minister Bakhyt Sultanov said the issue will take place in 2014, although he offered no details on any specific timing, according to a statement published on the finance ministry's website on February 28.
"This year, in order to reduce pressure on the liquidity of the domestic market, we plan to issue Eurobonds on foreign markets," Sultanov announced at a cabinet meeting the previous day. "This will be the first issue of Eurobonds in the last 13 years. It will form the benchmark for Kazakh companies attracting outside capital and will reduce the cost of borrowing."
Kazakhstan's last sovereign Eurobond issue was in 2000, when the country raised $350m. Those bonds were redeemed in 2007.
At the same time, Astana is keen to keep a lid on credit growth in the economy, with unsecured retail lending in particular looking a risk to a banking sector only just getting back to its feet after the government was forced to bail it out in 2009. "[I]n order to ensure economic security," Sultanov added, "we have worked out measures to monitor and regulate the process of debt management in the quasi-public sector."
While the sovereign has not been in international markets for many years, state-owned organisations have been raising funds recently. Oil and gas company KazMunaiGas borrowed $3bn in a substantially over-subscribed two-part bond issue in April, while agricultural holding KazAgro issued $1bn worth of Eurobonds in May.
The Kazakh government had previously announced in May that it was planning a $1bn sovereign Eurobond. "We are going to the external markets not for money but for credit, for loans, for benchmarks and in order to make ourselves present in this market," then-finance minister Bolat Zhamishev told a European Bank for Reconstruction and Development (EBRD) meeting in Istanbul.
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