LONDON/ALMATY Feb 26 (Reuters) - HSBC has sold its bank in Kazakhstan to the country's second biggest lender, Halyk Bank, for $176 million in cash, continuing a retreat from countries that are unprofitable or where it lacks scale.
HSBC Chief Executive Stuart Gulliver has sold or closed 63 businesses in the last three years as he tries to cut complexity in an effort to reduce risk and boost profitability at Europe's biggest bank.
Halyk is the second largest and most profitable lender among the 38 banks in Kazakhstan, a vast country in central Asia with a population of 17 million. It is the biggest economy of the former Soviet Union republics after Russia, largely thanks to its oil production.
HSBC Bank Kazakhstan has about 600 employees and six branches and mainly focuses on mass affluent retail customers and corporate clients.
It made a profit of about $27 million last year and is one of the country's top 20 banks, with 1.3 percent of the assets of Kazakh banks. The sale price was based on a net asset value of $160 million.
Halyk CEO Umut Shayakhmetova said the deal would consolidate her bank's position and allow it to attract new clients in retail banking and among large national and foreign companies, and help it develop its private banking and internet banking.
Halyk's largest single shareholder is a company owned by President Nursultan Nazarbayev's middle daughter, Dinara, and her entrepreneur husband Timur Kulibayev. The bank has subsidiaries in Russia, Georgia and Kyrgzstan.
The deal is expected to complete in the fourth quarter.