EBRD 2023: Kazakhstan looks for buyer to re-privatise former Sberbank Kazakhstan

EBRD 2023: Kazakhstan looks for buyer to re-privatise former Sberbank Kazakhstan
Adil Mukhamejanov (right) outlines Baiterek National Management Holding's plans to privatise Bereke Bank, formerly Sberbank Kazakhstan. / bne IntelliNews
By Clare Nuttall in Samarkand May 17, 2023

The Kazakh government’s Baiterek National Management Holding is looking for a strategic partner to buy Bereke Bank, formerly Sberbank Kazakhstan, Deputy Chairman of Baiterek’s management board Adil Mukhamejanov said during the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development (EBRD) Annual Meeting in Samarkand on May 17. 

Russian Sberbank’s foreign operations were badly hit by sanctions imposed by Western countries over Russia's invasion of Ukraine last year, and in August Baiterek took over the Russian banking giant’s operations in Kazakhstan. 

Commenting on the decision to take over the bank, Mukhamejanov explained: “Before the February [2022] events, Sberbank Kazakhstan was the second largest commercial bank in Kazakhstan and on top of that was one of the leading banks that financed small and medium enterprises and the corporate sector. Of course, the government couldn’t have such a big player removed from the market.” 

Rating agency Fitch noted when affirming Baiterek’s credit rating in November: “The recent acquisition of Bereke Bank — formerly a subsidiary of Russia's Sberbank — was part of the government's orchestrated takeover to preserve Kazakhstan's financial sector stability due to escalation of Russian sanction risk.” 

Following the acquisition, Baiterek became 100% shareholder of the bank, and started work to have it removed from all sanctions lists. The latest was in March 2023, when it was removed from the list of Specially Designated Nationals (SDNs). The next step will be to re-establish the bank’s credit rating, which Mukhamejanov said is expected by the end of the month. 

“This is a very good, well-run bank. We are looking right now to find a well known international strategic partner who can step in and purchase that asset from us and bring new know-how, new technologies into Kazakhstan, promoting this bank further,” Mukhamejanov told a panel on investment in Kazakhstan. 

According to data on the Kazakh banking sector provided by Mukhamejanov, the sector performed reasonably well in 2022. During the year, total loans issued grew by 20%, corporate loans were up by almost 10% and consumer lending grew by almost 31%.