ASTANA, March 5 (Reuters) - Kazakhstan aims to nationalise the country’s three largest private pension funds this year by paying for them in state-owned shares in local banks, Deputy Prime Minister Kairat Kelimbetov said on Tuesday.
President Nursultan Nazarbayev has ordered the government to nationalise the country’s pension system by merging the assets of private pension funds into a single state-owned fund to support fast economic growth.
A government order now instructs sovereign wealth fund Samruk-Kazyna to offer Halyk Bank, Kazakhstan’s second-largest lender by assets, to sell its private pension fund for shares in state-owned Bank BTA , Kelimbetov told Reuters in an interview.
The state holds over 97 percent in BTA, the country’s third largest lender, which it bailed out during the financial crisis. BTA also owns private fund Ular-Umit.
Kelimbetov said Kazakhstan’s No. 1 lender, Kazkommertsbank , would be offered to a swap - its pension fund Grantum in return for the government’s exit from the bank’s capital.
Halyk’s pension fund accounted for 33.3 percent of all pension fund assets in Kazakhstan, officially estimated at 3.188 trillion tenge ($21.1 billion) as of January 1, 2013. BTA’s Ular-Umit fund held 12.6 percent of all Kazakh pension fund assets, and Grantum 9.6 percent. The state-owned GNPF pension fund had 19.6 percent. (Reporting by Raushan Nurshayeva; Writing by Dmitry Solovyov; editing by Jason Neely)