February 13, 2017 / 12:42 PM / 3 years ago

UPDATE 1-Kazakhstan sets aside $6.2 bln to buy out banks' bad loans

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ASTANA, Feb 13 (Reuters) - Kazakhstan plans to inject 2 trillion tenge ($6.2 billion) into its state-owned ‘bad bank’, the Problem Loans Fund, in order to buy distressed assets from local banks, central bank deputy chairman Oleg Smolyakov said on Monday.

The capital injection will come from the state budget and will be partly financed by an increased transfer from the state oil fund, said Economy Minister Timur Suleimenov, who spoke to parliament alongside Smolyakov.

The International Monetary Fund said this month that resolving the issue of bad loans, some of which are yet to be recognised, is the main challenge facing the oil-exporting Central Asian nation.

Officials did not name any banks that might offload their bad assets to the fund, but the market’s focus is likely to be on Kazkommertsbank (KKB).

Halyk Bank , Kazakhstan’s largest bank, which is in talks to take over Kazkommertsbank, said last month it wanted the latter to get rid of bad assets before a deal is finalised.

KKB has an outstanding loan of $7.5 billion, around half its assets, to BTA, a former bank that is now a distressed asset management company. BTA has so far missed no repayments on that debt, but the outlook is uncertain.

The capital injection into the Problem Loans Fund was part of a broader budget revision based on an average Brent crude price of $50 per barrel instead of $35 per barrel in the original document. Brent crude was trading around $56.40 on Monday.

The revised draft assumes economic growth of 2.5 percent rather than 1.9 percent and an average tenge exchange rate of 330 per dollar this year, instead of 360 per dollar. Additional spending is set to increase the budget deficit to 1.548 trillion tenge ($4.8 billion) from 578.1 billion tenge. (Reporting by Raushan Nurshayeva; Writing by Olzhas Auyezov; Editing by Vladimir Soldatkin and Mark Trevelyan)

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