Kazakh bank BTA says Sberbank talks continue

July 25. Reuters. ALMATY

Kazakhstan’s largest bank BTA BTAS.KZ is continuing talks with Russia’s Sberbank about its potential takeover of the Kazakh lender, BTA Chief Executive Anvar Saidenov said on Saturday.

Some analysts have doubted if the deal would go through, citing the slow progress of BTA’s talks with creditors to restructure its $12 billion debt following a default in April and a $7.9 billion loss in 2008.

Earlier this week, BTA said creditors’ losses could reach 97 percent, excluding trade finance, under a “stress” scenario.

But Saidenov said talks with Sberbank were continuing.

“It is clear of course, that Sberbank’s final decision will largely depend on this restructuring,” he told reporters. “I think that the chances of this deal happening are quite high.”

BTA, nationalised in February, has not provided a clear timeline for its restructuring process.


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Kazakh’s BTA Bank Says It May Take Years to Recover Its Assets

July 25. Bloomberg

By Nariman Gizitdinov

BTA Bank, Kazakhstan’s largest lender, said it may take years to recover some of its assets after previous management fled.

The work to recover BTA Bank assets “isn’t easy, as we need to dispute some deals and work with borrowers to recover loan documentation,” Chief Executive Officer Anvar Saidenov told reporters in Almaty today. The process can’t be carried out in a single year, he said.

BTA halted principal payments on its debt in April, blaming creditors for demanding immediate repayment after the government took over the lender in February. Kazakh prosecutors have in July charged 12 executives at BTA, its Temirbank unit and some of their corporate clients with embezzling more than 83 billion tenge ($550 million) from the bank.

The former management of BTA between November and February moved collateral and transferred debt to offshore companies which can’t be reached, Saidenov said.

Some loan documentation, including agreements on collateral isn’t available any more, Ernst and Young said in an audit on the Kazahstan Stock Exchange Web site. BTA Bank admitted losses of 1.1 trillion tenge in 2008, the auditor said.

On March 6, prosecutors issued international arrest warrants for BTA Chairman Mukhtar Ablyazov and some of his associates for allegedly stealing from BTA and laundering the money via loans to fictitious companies. BTA former CEO Roman Solodchenko was added to the wanted list on March 21 after he left a bank.

Ablyazov and Deputy Chief Executive Officer Zhaksylyk Zharimbetov are still being investigated, along with another 12 suspects, the prosecutors said. Those 14 executives remain in hiding, it said.

Ablyazov and Solodchenko denied the charges.