* Third-largest Kazakh bank to cut around 1,500 jobs
* BTA seeking creditor support for second debt restructuring
* Steering committee to enable restructuring talks
ALMATY, March 1 (Reuters) - Kazakh bank BTA will cut staff numbers by around 1,500 or 25 percent of the total this year in an attempt to reduce its losses and persuade creditors to support its second debt restructuring within three years, the bank said on Thursday.
The bank, Kazakhstan’s third-largest by assets, said in a statement it would close its least-effective sales points around the country. A spokeswoman for the bank said the job cuts would be made during the course of this year.
“The bank believes this initiative will be positively received by creditors, who also have an interest in BTA’s return to a leading position in the republic’s banking system,” BTA said in a statement.
BTA was the largest of Kazakhstan’s banks to default in 2009 when the financial crisis hit central Asia’s largest economy, laying bare the banking sector’s exposure to bloated real estate markets and an excessive reliance on external funding.
The bank, majority owned by sovereign wealth fund Samruk-Kazyna since completing a debt restructuring programme in 2010, enraged many of its creditors by defaulting in January on a $160 million coupon payment.
BTA last month formed a steering committee to enable talks on a second debt restructuring. Investors represented on the committee include Ashmore, FFTW-BNP Paribas Investment Partners, Nomura, JPMorgan, the Asian Development Bank and Gramercy Funds.
BTA employs around 5,800 people, around 1,500 of whom will lose their jobs. (Reporting by Mariya Gordeyeva and Robin Paxton)