Kazakhstan’s banking sector is having trouble finding that light at the end of the tunnel.
A cycle of crises is spurring a merger trend among banks. In 2017 alone, eight banks have completed or are in the course of going through this process.
The biggest financial operation of the year was completed in July when Halyk Bank absorbed another local market leader, Qazkom, creating a larger bank that could help keep the national economy on an even keel.
In November 2014, it was Qazkom taking on the white knight role when it merged with BTA Bank, taking on the latter’s liabilities, which included 750 million euros in eurobond obligations that are due in 2022. That takeover came at an unfortunate time, however. With energy prices in the doldrums, Kazakhstan’s economy entered a period of stagnation, the national currency plunged in value and households defaulted on their loans en masse. In 2016, major depositors ditched the bank, leading to a liquidity crunch and an escalation of troubles.
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Aktan Rysaliev is a pseudonym for a journalist working in Almaty, Kazakhstan.