BTA Bank of Kazakhstan Files for Bankruptcy in U.S.

February 05, 2010

By Michael Bathon and Jef Feeley

BTA Bank of Kazakhstan Files for Bankruptcy in U.S.Feb. 4 (Bloomberg) – BTA Bank, the second-largest bank in Kazakhstan by assets, filed for bankruptcy protection to shield itself from U.S. creditors while it restructures about $11.6 billion in debt.

The Almaty-based bank listed both debt and assets of more than $1 billion in Chapter 15 documents filed today in U.S. Bankruptcy Court in Manhattan. Chapter 15 of the bankruptcy code is designed to block U.S. lawsuits against a foreign company with assets in the U.S. while it restructures in its home country. Most of BTA Bank’s U.S. assets are funds in accounts with New York banks.

“This petition is being filed at this stage as certain creditors have started to take action against the bank,” BTA Bank Chief Executive Officer Anvar Saidenov said in the court filing. Some BTA accounts with UBS AG and Credit Suisse Group AG in Switzerland have been frozen, according to the filing.

The state-owned National Wellbeing Fund Samruk-Kazyna took control of BTA Bank last February and the bank defaulted in April after credit markets froze and Kazakhstan’s real estate bubble burst. Alliance Bank, AO Astana Finance and BTA’s Temirbank have also defaulted, leaving Kazakh lenders seeking to reorganize $20 billion of debt.

BTA Bank is undergoing a restructuring in the “specialized financial court” in Kazakhstan, according to court filing in New York.

Having the U.S. courts recognize the Kazakhstan reorganization effort will “prevent the risk of parties taking action against the bank or seeking attachments over the bank’s assets that are located in the United States,” Saidenov said in the filing.

The case is In re JSC BTA Bank, 10-10638, U.S. Bankruptcy Court, Southern District of New York (Manhattan).