September 17, 2013 / 9:47 AM / 6 years ago

S.Korea's Kookmin Bank set to get control in Kazakh CenterCredit in 2014

ALMATY, Sept 17 (Reuters) - South Korea’s Kookmin Bank is set to gain majority control over Kazakhstan’s fourth-largest lender Bank CenterCredit next year as it plans to acquire a stake in the bank held by the International Finance Corp (IFC), CenterCredit said on Tuesday.

The IFC, a private investment arm of the World Bank, acquired 10 percent of CenterCredit in February 2010. It also signed an option agreement with Kookmin Bank at the time that it would sell this stake by 2017.

Kookmin Bank, South Korea’s top mortgage lender, already holds 41.93 percent of CenterCredit.

“Next year preferred shares (in CenterCredit) will be converted into ordinary shares,” CenterCredit Chief Executive Vladislav Lee told Reuters. “After that, Kookmin Bank is set to buy out the share of IFC, thus raising its stake to 51 percent,” he said.

“An option agreement with the IFC is in force until 2017.”

CenterCredit made a net loss of 591 million tenge ($3.9 million) in January through June, largely due to bigger provisions for bad loans, after earning a net 1.04 billion in the first half of 2012.

Kazakhstan, central Asia’s largest economy and the second-largest ex-Soviet oil producer after Russia, weathered the global financial crisis and avoided recession.

But its banking sector is still haunted by bad loans, a vestige of its former exposure to aggressive borrowing abroad and bloated real estate markets.

CenterCredit expects its full-year net profit to rise to 1 billion tenge in 2013 from 370 million last year.

Kazakh executive Bakhtybek Baiseitov has 24.84 percent in CenterCredit and Lee holds less than 5 percent.

$1 = 153.4000 Kazakhstan tenge Reporting by Mariya Gordeyeva; Writing by Dmitry Solovyov; Editing by David Holmes

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