EVERYONE’S BACKYARD

Kazakhstan 2015 | FINANCE | B2B: INTERNATIONAL BANKS

With its abundant resources and prime placement in Central Asia, Kazakhstan is popular with foreign banks looking to get in on the action.

Andrey Kurilin
ANDREY KURILIN
CEO
Citibank Kazakhstan
Aleksandr Kamalov
ALEKSANDR KAMALOV
Chairman of the Management Board
Subsidiary Bank Sberbank JSC

What features characterize your operations in Kazakhstan?

ANDREY KURILIN Kazakhstan is a priority market for Citi. This country possesses abundant riches and is about 40% the size of China's territory. We are listening to our clients. Not one day passes without my meeting a client or an investor. We have a visible share of deposits of large corporates, and we are also a major player in foreign exchange due to the volume of business that we do with exporters. To understand Citi's scale in the country, it is important to look beyond our balance sheet. The volume of transactions processed on a daily basis is one of the key indicators. We are able to achieve these numbers because we came early and maintained a conservative approach.

ALEKSANDR KAMALOV Sberbank is one of the biggest institutional investors in the country; its investment in Kazakhstan's economy has reached $10 billion. The subsidiary company is operating according to Kazakhstani legislation and paying local taxes, and its support for the government takes many shapes and forms, including participation in state programs and support for SMEs and non-resource-based industries. In 2014 we doubled both our SME and retail portfolios. We act as a trustworthy partner for international corporations in Kazakhstan. Some of the projects we have participated in include financing KazMunayGas with $400 million to repair one of its oil-processing plants. Another project was the construction of Aktau Port, while one-third is related to a rail manufacturing plant in Kazakhstan.

What are your priorities for the coming year?

ANDREY KURILIN Our priority is to remain a top bank in the corporate sector and to further develop our relationships with our customers, partners, and peers. We cherish the fact that we have leading market shares in the segments where we have chose to operate. Our focus is customers, regulations, and our team. We always aim at communicating effectively with the National Bank and other authorities. Citi has staff in over 100 countries—unparalleled in the financial industry—and you cannot be successful if you are not compliant with regulations in each of these jurisdictions. In 2014 Citi helped the Kazakhstani government and the companies that the government owns issue thee Eurobonds, and that too demonstrates our striving to add value in Kazakhstan.

ALEKSANDR KAMALOV We are positive about our retail sector. The level of integration of banking services into society is quite low in Kazakhstan, while internet services are spreading rapidly. This is how we see the development of our retail services in this niche; we will be looking for new distribution channels, and more of our investment will go into internet services and updating platforms, especially in mobile banking. In 2015, we will look into expanding our participation in e-commerce, since our Group is one of the co-owners of Yandex. Meanwhile, being close to China and using UniPAY allows us to support the financing of these projects. The main project for 2015 is to establish billing centers. Our main priority is to be effective in our strategy, rather than just concentrating on concrete numbers and indicators. We are set to improve the competence of our employees and the effectiveness of our operations, to reduce our expenses, and introduce new products. All of this will allow us to expand in the market and live up to our clients' expectations.