Kazakh tycoon eyes purchase of state-run Alliance, Temirbank
ALMATY Oct 10 (Reuters) - Kazakh billionaire Bolat Utemuratov has reached a preliminary non-binding agreement with Kazakhstan's sovereign wealth fund Samruk-Kazyna on the purchase of two mid-sized banks which it controls, the two sides said on Thursday.
Kazakhstan's government bailed out and acquired controlling stakes in Alliance Bank and Temirbank during the global financial crisis. Samruk-Kazyna owns 67 percent of Alliance Bank and 79.9 percent of smaller Temirbank.
Kazakh President Nursultan Nazarbayev in February told Samruk-Kazyna to sell state-owned stakes in three local banks, including Alliance and Temirbank, by the end of this year.
"The fund's step-by-step exit from the capital of commercial banks is a logical step ... and is likely to have a positive effect on the stock market," Yelena Bakhmutova, deputy head of Samruk-Kazyna, said in a statement.
Meanwhile speculation has been growing that Alliance may be headed for its second debt restructuring in three years.
The bank's $615 million bond maturing in 2017 traded on Wednesday at 45 cents on the dollar, with a yield 61.98 percent, after tumbling to a record low of around 40 cents on the dollar on Tuesday, with a yield of over 70 percent.
In the first stage of the proposed deal, the state will retain a controlling stake in Alliance Bank, the fund said. Bakhmutova said details of the deal could be disclosed once a final agreement had been reached.
Utemuratov, an influential figure in the oil-rich central Asian nation, is the main shareholder of ForteBank, the 28th lender by assets among Kazakhstan's 38 banks.
ForteBank Chief Executive Guram Andronikashvili said in the same statement that ForteBank planned to merge with Alliance Bank and Temir Bank if the deal with Samruk-Kazyna takes place.
"After the completion if this transaction, we expect that the united bank will become one of Kazakhstan's largest financial institutions," Andronikashvili said.
Alliance Bank was Kazakhstan's ninth-largest lender by assets and Temirbank the 13th largest as of Sept. 1. (Reporting by Dmitry Solovyov; Editing by David Holmes)
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