Monochrome by Centil Law: Lighten up 1

Having received a helping hand, the mood among the Stans this week, it seems, is inclined towards lightening up and shrugging off burdens.

Rounding up the long-lasting KCell saga, Kazakhstan's largest mobile network operator applied for delisting from Astana International and London Stock Exchanges. The company’s last trading day will be 14 June, the official date of its delisting. The Company's listing maintenance on AIX and LSE at the same time as the company's ordinary shares on KASE was too much of a financial burden.

Similarly, KazMunayGas is now looking to shrug off its underperforming assets, as its daughter company is selling its 75% shares in Hotel Kempinski Barbaros Bay in Bodrum. The land was rented in 1999 by the Kazakh state from Turkey’s State Treasury for 49 years, until 2048, but perhaps the pandemic dealt its heavy blow. Probably for similar reasons, KMG plans to sell its Burabay Golf Club in Kazakhstan, which cost it $100m.

Meanwhile Uzbekistan wants to light things up with a focus on energy, as its Ministry of Energy signed an MOU with the German Siemens Energy on a number of projects. These include the modernisation of the Hajabad compressor station, the construction of a new thermal power station, the energy audit of production facilities, joint projects in hydrogen energy and the manufacturing of 1300-1600MW PPP household heating boilers. 

The country also welcomed Dutch energy company Stone City Energy signing a $1.2bn investment agreement and PPA to deliver a 1.56GW thermal power plant in the Surkhandarya region by the end of 2024. Stone City will design, build, finance, operate and maintain the independent power producer for 25 years. The plant will also comprise of Siemens HL-class steam and gas turbine units.

Kazakh Invest and the German mining and metallurgical company Monterra Group inaugurated the construction of a $18.73bn mining and metallurgical plant in the region of Zhambyl in the south of Kazakhstan. The plant is expected to extract and process up to 5 million tonnes of ore. After attracting over $5.3m in Zhambul’s regional development in 2020, the company plans to invest around $16.2m in 2021.

Uzbekistan and the OPEC Fund for International Development signed a $50m term loan agreement with Saudi’s ACWA Power to finance the construction and operation of a new 1.5GW combined cycle gas-turbine power plant in Syrdarya, near the border with Tajikistan. It is estimated that the plant would meet 15% of Uzbekistan’s energy demand and make up 8% of all installed power capacity.

Shortly after securing a deal with OneWeb, Kazakhstan signed an MOU with SES for its O3b mPOWER satellite fleet to be launched in Q3 2021. Located 8,000km away from the Earth’s surface in a medium earth orbit, the fully-funded O3b mPOWER system will provide global coverage with 6 satellites. Parties will also explore creating an in-country gateway for O3b mPOWER.

Uzbekistan secured a $195m loan from Japan’s International Cooperation Agency at 6mLIBOR+1.1% for 25 years with a 7 years grace period. This is JICA’s first US-denominated loan to Uzbekistan. The funds are expected to lighten the burden of resolving political issues in the country’s energy sector, as well as to contribute to the country’s socio economic recession, stability and sustainable development.

Japarov's call to lighten up landed on deaf ears of Facebook, as the platform deleted the former’s post that a poisonous root could cure COVID-19 on the basis that it spread disinformation. This came about as cases were worryingly on the rise in Kyrgyzstan, threatening to overburden hospitals. It seems like Japarov’s administration might be struggling with the resurgent virus, looking to shrug off the threat.

Lightening up after the decision to leave Afghanistan, President Biden now prepares to recognise the killings of over a million of Armenians in the Ottoman Empire during WWI as a "genocide", during the commemorative speech on 24 April. The move will mount pressure on the already strained relations between the US and Turkey, and might have wider repercussions across the CIS, the Turkic Council states, and even affect Iran.

To top off a productive week, our Turkmenistan practice made its contribution to the Global Investigations Guide for Eurasia. Have a look.

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