Monochrome: It is May the 4th today

Date: May 2018

Steel of Nemesis. Something is still seriously wrong at, which has acknowledged a liquidity crisis and put limits on cash withdrawals. The bank is now looking for investors, as Kazakh banks can no longer count on state support. Luckily for customers, they are protected by a guarantee fund, which guarantees up to $30,000. The root of the problem is the fact that, like most banks, the Bank of Astana does not have a clear strategy in a volatile economy. With Qazaq Bank’s licence recently revoked, things are certainly heating up. 

The Angel Effect. A very interesting bill on venture capital investments is being discussed in the Kazakh parliament. Unlike traditional investments, the venture capital model assumes a highly probable loss of investments, with over 50% of investments normally resulting in a loss. The risks are that venture capital funding can prompt changes to the ownership ratio and reduced control over decision-making. The legislator believes that these risks must be regulated.

The Trial of the Empire. A new Eurobond issue is increasing Kazmunaigas’ debt portfolio. This is occurring against the backdrop of the most complicated restructuring of the corporation's debt obligations, as well as preparations for next year’s likely IPO. If Shell does acquire a 10% stake in Kazmunaigas, as has been offered, this will significantly increase interest in the forthcoming IPO. Here is an interesting analysis on this topic.

The Sunrise. The capacity of the Atyrau gas and chemical complex may be increased by 50%, from 800,000 tonnes to 1.25 million tonnes of polyethylene per year. Of course, a major factor in the project’s success will be finding new markets and, ideally, a guaranteed off-take. Works are being financed primarily by UAE-based Mubadala, with technology provided by Austria’s Borealis. Prior to the planned increase in production capacity, the project cost was estimated at $6 billion.

Nebula Secret. In Uzbekistan, everyone is discussing the $1.3 billion giant solar power project. We did a little research into Cayman Islands-based SkyPower, but it seems that information is scant. The 15-year-old company calls itself the world’s largest (!) developer and owner of utility-scale solar energy projects, and yet does not appear on lists of large companies. Its cool website features photos with famous personalities and a list of large projects that we hope will include Uzbek projects before too long.

Dreams of the Empire. Erdoğan has returned from his trip to Uzbekistan. Interesting news from the visit includes a geological exploration project for gold and rare earth metals, and plans to increase the countries’ trade turnover from $1.5 billion to $5 billion. Some even more intriguing news is that a Council for Strategic Cooperation with annual meetings will be established, and Uzbekistan will be joining the Türkic Alliance. The rest of the trip generally followed normal protocol.

Searching for the Spark. Geologists have discovered a mineral deposit in Tajikistan that may be of global importance. These minerals include: monazite, used to obtain thorium, a radioactive metal used in the nuclear power industry; ilmenite, used to obtain titanium; and zircon, used to obtain zirconium and hafnium for the production of refractories, superconductors, reactor cores, hygienic utensils and many other useful things. All of these natural treasures have been hiding in the region of Bashgumbez.

Sails of Hope. In more random news, a giant bird island has been built in Turkmenistan to protect the local birds. Of course, this is part of another more ambitious project: the new seaport in the city of Turkmenbashi on the eastern shore of the Caspian Sea. The new port has the capacity to serve 300,000 passengers and 75,000 ships per year, with an annual cargo capacity of 4 million tonnes.

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