Kazakh bank Halyk to repurchase state-held shares

Thu Mar 10, 2011 5:07am EST

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By Maria Gordeyeva

ALMATY, March 10 (Reuters) - Halyk Bank HSBK.KZ and its biggest shareholder agreed on Thursday to buy back a 19.8 percent stake in the bank, Kazakhstan's second-largest by assets, that was acquired by the state in the financial crisis.

Halyk and Almex, a company owned by entrepreneur Timur Kulibayev and his wife Dinara, a daughter of President Nursultan Nazarbayev, will together spend 33 billion tenge ($226 million) buying back the shares from sovereign wealth fund Samruk-Kazyna.

Almex will transfer part of its call option on the 259 million common shares held by Samruk-Kazyna to Halyk, the bank said, in a deal that will then see Halyk buy back 213 million shares and Almex 46 million at a price of 126.8 tenge per share.

"The purchase price implies a 66 percent discount to the current GDR price," Troika Dialog wrote in a note, adding that the price per Global Depositary Receipt was $3.48.

Halyk's London-traded GDRs (HSBKq.L) were 2.5 percent higher at $10.6 by 0930 GMT.

Milena Ivanova-Venturini, head of Central Asia research at Renaissance Capital, said the transaction -- to be exercised on March 28 -- would be an "overall positive" for the stock.

"The announcement completes a year of speculation about the timing of Samruk-Kazyna's exit from Halyk's capital, as well as about the form which the exit will take," she wrote in a note.

Kazakhstan's banking sector, among the first and hardest hit by the global financial crisis, has begun to recover in tandem with a growing economy after some banks completed billion-dollar debt restructuring programmes and others drew on state help. "Halyk Bank is the first among the country's financial institutions to start returning ahead of schedule the government funds received in 2009 under the Kazakhstan government's stabilisation programme," CEO Umut Shayakhmetova said.

After the transaction, Almex will raise its stake in Halyk to 69.3 percent from 54.4 percent. The deal will provide Samruk-Kazyna with a nominal rate of return of 15.75 percent per annum, Halyk said in the statement.

Halyk plans to hold the repurchased common stock as treasury shares and said that it had no current plans to resell them.

In addition to its common shares, Samruk-Kazyna also owns 50 percent of Halyk's preferred shares. Shareholders will decide later on the fate of these shares. ($1=145.55 tenge) (Writing by Robin Paxton; Editing by Jon Loades-Carter)

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