September 8, 2017 / 11:04 AM / 10 months ago

INTERVIEW-Kazakhstan readies option to float airline, uranium miner next year

ASTANA, Sept 8 (Reuters) - Kazakhstan’s sovereign wealth fund is putting plans in place to float the Central Asian nation’s flagship carrier and a leading uranium miner as early as next year, a fund executive said.

Dauren Tasmagambetov, head of asset restructuring and privatisation at wealth fund Samruk Kazyna, said both Air Astana and miner Kazatomprom had already picked investment banks and legal advisers and were undergoing due diligence checks.

“For now, under the initially announced plan, we see those companies floated in 2018, if several conditions are met such as the global macroeconomic situation and market demand,” he said.

The precise size and the location of those flotations have yet to be determined, Tasmagambetov said, as the fund is waiting for input from investment banks. Samruk Kazyna has said it would sell stakes of no more than 25 percent in each company.

The listings scheduled for 2018 will be the first in a series of privatisation deals set to involve the former Soviet republic’s leading companies such as national oil firm KazMunayGaz.

Tasmagambetov said that Samruk Kazyna could either sell the shares it hold or have the companies themselves could issue new stock, depending on whether the firms themselves need financing.

Samruk Kazyna is willing to allocate the bulk of the flotations to the domestic Astana International Financial Centre stock exchange, set to launch early next year, but that will depend on how much liquidity the bourse manages to attract, Tasmagambetov said.

Listings of resource-focused companies would depend on markets for those commodities.

“Without a clear price trend for commodities one cannot talk about a successful IPO of a company focused on those commodities,” he said.

Among the seven large companies Samruk plans to float, Kazatomprom and KazMunayGaz are commodities players. Spot prices of uranium dipped to a 13-year low late last year and have rebounded only modestly in 2017. (Reporting by Olzhas Auyezov; Editing by Keith Weir)

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