Exclusive: Kazakhstan plans more than $1 billion in fresh aid to banks - sources

ALMATY (Reuters) - Kazakhstan plans to provide more than $1 billion in aid to at least four local banks after an asset quality review revealed holes in their balance sheets that require capital injections, two sources familiar with the plans told Reuters.

FILE PHOTO: New 500 tenge banknotes are displayed in this picture illustration in Almaty, Kazakhstan November 22, 2017. REUTERS/Shamil Zhumatov

The move follows previous bailouts that have cost the oil-producing Central Asian nation more than $13 billion but have still not resuscitated a banking system riddled with bad loans after a property price crash and a currency devaluation.

New bailouts could necessitate extra borrowing by the government or, if they are once again financed by the central bank, put pressure on the tenge KZT= currency.

The asset quality review, begun this year, is due to be completed by the end of December. But three bankers familiar with the process said it had already shown that four medium-sized lenders needed extra capital to write off bad loans.

The three sources also said the authorities were determined to provide financial aid to all four, but the terms of such assistance were yet to be agreed.

Kazakhstan’s central bank has not replied to a request for comment on the matter.

Central bank governor Yerbolat Dosayev said on Monday the authorities would agree action plans with banks in February, based on the asset quality review. The review covered the 14 largest banks out of Kazakhstan’s 27.

“We have a clear vision of the issues (faced by banks) and of what we are going to do,” Dosayev told a briefing without providing any details.

One of the sources said the fresh aid package could be worth up to 1 trillion tenge ($2.6 billion). Another source said it would cost more than the previous aid program which totaled 410 billion tenge and that it could involve more than four banks.

Kazakhstan’s total central government spending next year has been set at 12.9 trillion tenge.

Writing by Olzhas Auyezov; Editing by David Evans and Edmund Blair