Kazakh Astana Group Seeks Minority Investors in Subsidiaries

Sep 21. Bloomberg

By Nariman Gizitdinov

Kazakhstan’s Astana Group seeks to sell minority stakes in its subsidiaries, which include a chain of car dealerships, a grain producer and a real estate developer.

“We don’t want to sell shares via initial public offerings; these could be private placements,” Nurlan Smagulov, founder and president of Astana Group, told reporters in Almaty today. The company seeks to increase the “survivability” of its units and finance expansion, he said without elaborating.

Astana Group is in talks with a potential investor in its Astana Motors unit, which sells cars from makers such as Bayerische Motoren Werke AG and Toyota Motor Corp., Smagulov said, declining to name the investor. He said in July 2008 that Astana Motors may pursue an IPO.

Astana Group’s Grain Industry unit produced 220,000 metric tons of flour and 33,000 tons of pasta last year, the company said on its website. Shopping and family entertainment centers owned by its Mega Development unit approached 200,000 square meters.

Kazakhstan, which holds 3 percent of the world’s oil reserves according to BP Plc, forecasts 5 percent economic growth this year compared with 1.2 percent in 2009. The economy grew 10 percent on average each year between 2000 and 2007 as energy and commodity prices rose.