Kazakh banks, tech investments and China sentiments have one thing in common – they took a hit this week.
More anti-Chinese sentiment amongst the population persists in Kyrgyzstan. Mass protests, including demonstrators riding on horseback, forced the government to abandon the construction of a $280m logistics centre by China's One Lead One (HK) Trading Limited. With parliamentary elections to be held in autumn this year, the Kyrgyz state cannot afford angering the population.
Following last year’s collapse of the money transfer system and intensified state efforts to fight the black currency market, Amonat Bank, operator of the Tajik payment system Korti Milli, integrated Russia's MIR payment system to enable the use of MIR cards at the bank’s ATM and payment terminals. Faced with economic challenges, the leadership seems to be yielding to larger political powers.
Chief of SoftBank’s Vision Fund seeks investments from Abu Dhabi’s state fund Mubadala and the Kazakh government for a new multibillion-dollar vehicle to pursue complex bets on publicly traded companies. Rumour has it that the fund would be based in Abu Dhabi and managed by Rajeev Misra’s ally and MD at SoftBank’s investment unit Akshay Naheta. Your move, Mr Son?
In anticipation of Kazakhstan’s Central Bank to publish its asset quality review, Kazakhstan seeks outside investments for additional capital to be required to cover the risks, as the government refuses to bailout the private banks again in what President Tokayev described as a ‘sick financial system’, weakened by corruption and bad debt. Hopes are high for equity investments from the EBRD.
Preparing for the increase in tourist inflow, the Uzbekistan Airport Company, set up after the unbundling of the flagship carrier, intends to relocate the Tashkent International Airport outside the capital by 35 km, near Angren or Chinoz. Dealing with never before seen volumes of tourist traffic, the airport plans to share the burden with soon to be unveiled Tashkent Eastern Airport, raising passenger throughput to 10m.
Following Russia’s decision to suspend the annual Sochi Investment Forum in February, Uzbekistan postponed to November a large international investment summit that was scheduled in Tashkent for the first week of March – all on the backdrop of the coronavirus outbreak. The event was meant to attract the eagerly sought foreign investment, with confirmed participation of over 1500 C-suite executives.
While claiming to cut oil production in agreement with OPEC and OPEC+, Kazakhstan plans to invest $2.7bn by 2025 to enhance hydrocarbons and mineral exploration. Of them, $2.1bn are intended to come from the private sector and $530m from the state budget. The government justifies this to be an anticipation of the exhaustion of resources in major deposits, although sceptics see through this argumentation.
IFC issues $2m to the Tajik microcredit deposit-taking organisation Humo to improve social housing and to support the growth of micro, small, and medium enterprises, addressing the country’s MSME-finance gap estimated at $1.5bn. The loan is provided through currency swaps with the International Development Association’s Private Sector Window Local Currency Facility.
With the TAPI project being stalled due to lack of investments, Turkmenistan places all its stakes on the international conference "TAPI - The Gas Pipeline for Peace and Cooperation" to be held next week in Dubai. At the roadshow, the government also intends to increase the investors’ interest in its gas chemicals industry and in the further exploration of blocks on Turkmenistan’s part of the Caspian Sea.
After India shows support to Iran’s Chanabar port, the country now plans to increase and facilitate trade with neighbours at this strategic port, welcoming Afghan banks to open branches in the port, including Aryan Bank. Iran being constrained by US sanctions, and Afghanistan’s reliance on Iranian imports that comprise almost a third of its total imports, this transit route promises to be mutually beneficial. Meanwhile, India may only be in it to counter China’s logistical influence in Pakistan.