Monochrome by Centil Law: Back to business

Things seem to be going back to a regular pace, more together and focused in light of potential discords and worries over the looming second wave of the pandemic.

Kazakhstan’s finance conglomerate is taking a second look at its IPO plans on the London Stock Exchange, which it postponed last year due to uncertainties on the market. Such change of heart was influenced by the recent news of Russia’s technology firm Yandex purchasing the digital bank Tinkoff for $5.5bn, valuing it at 10.5 times earnings and 2.9 times book value and thus setting a valuation benchmark for online banks from the CIS.

Uzbekistan negotiated with Russia’s VEB to receive $4.75 bn in credit for 10 development projects, including the setup of an automated control and accounting system for natural gas and the modernisation of the non-ferrous metals production facility in Navoi, along with 19 export projects for $7,2bn. VEB will also help Uzbekistan’s Central Bank connect to the SPFS platform, the Russian equivalent of the SWIFT transfer system.

As part of the framework for greater economic cooperation discussed with the VEB delegation, Gazprombank, Russia's third largest bank by assets, decided to open an office in Uzbekistan. Russia’s oil giant, Lukoil, also decided to resume gas production in the south-west Gissar Project, which was put on hold in August due to the pandemic, and consider expanding its export destinations besides China. 

The Italian manufacturer Gamma Meccanica S.p.A. won Turkmenistan’s tender for the supply of equipment for the new thermal and sound insulation material production plant in the Balkan Region. Construction should start in October 2020 and is expected to finalise in October 2021. Under this agreement, Gamma will also renovate the wall material production workshop of the Ministry of Industry. 

China’s Shanghai Electric Power Transmission & Distribution won the tender for restoring the 500 kV Guzar-Regar power transmission line between Uzbekistan and Tajikistan. The project, estimated at $25m, will be financed by the Asian Development Bank. Earlier this year, Tajikistan restricted the supplies of electricity to Uzbekistan, allegedly due to a shortage of water in its reservoirs. 

Following the massive FinCEN leak, Kazakh oligarchs feature in the US Financial Crimes Enforcement Network report on suspicious transactions involving US banks, such as Citibank, JPMorgan Chase and others. The names leaked by the International Consortium of Investigative Journalists include the former Mayor of Almaty Khrapunov, who circulated $89m and former chairman of the BTA Bank Ablyazov, who laundered $666m. 

The World Bank and the International Financial Corporation committed to finance the construction of a photovoltaic plant in Uzbekistan’s Navoi, as part of the Scaling Solar Program. The IFC will assist the organisation of tenders to build, own, operate and transfer new PVPs of a total capacity of 1GW across the country. The next tenders on the agenda are two 200MW PVPs in Samarkand and Jizzakh regions. 

USAID considers expanding its investments in Central Asia. In Afghanistan, the Agency will participate in funding photovoltaic and wind power projects for a total cost of $160m to reduce the country’s dependence on its neighbours for electricity. In Turkmenistan, it will assist with the modernisation of the agriculture and livestock sector, while in Kyrgyzstan USAID mobilised $19m to improve basic education. 

The Asian Development Bank approved a $15m grant for Tajikistan as additional funding of the water management project in the country’s section of the Panj basin. The grant will finance the construction of a new sump pump in the Chubek Irrigation System, which is located on the border with Afghanistan and is the largest on the Panj river. The modernisation project was launched in 2016 and expanded in 2018.

As Afghan peace negotiations slowed in Doha over religious matters, fighting continued. The Taliban attacked the military checkpoints, which was retaliated with an unfortunate airstrike resulting in civilian casualties and putting the government in very bad light. Talibans already had financial leverage from controlling most of the country’s mineral deposits. Now they are also winning the public image contest.

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