On November 18, at Kazakhstan’s Independent Press Club the former head of the National Securities Commission, Grigory Marchenko, was asked by journalists to provide an update on the latest developments in the stock exchange and on his own future plans. Although he had received the status of an unofficial advisor to the President after his resignation in October, Marchenko stated that he was now firmly in the private sector, and capitalizing on the audience, advertised the establishment this week of his own brokerage.
Marchenko is an able economist and his broker company promises to be a successful one. It will be the twenty-seventh such brokerage to operate on Kazakhstan’s International Stock Exchange (KSE) since the exchange was established in September of this year. More than a dozen companies are now listed on the Stock Exchange, and, although in reality not meeting all requirements for an A Listing, are deemed by the government as the country’s blue chip industries. (Monitor interview, Private Broker Company, November 20) The prime examples are Neftikhimbank, Mangistaumunaigaz, Alumnii Kazakhstana, and Kazakhtelecom.
Kazakhstan’s market has not in its early days been immune to the world crisis sparked by the recent plunge of the stock exchange index. Indigenous factors have also stalled the KSE’s effective operation. Former prime minister Akezhan Kazhegeldin planned to sell to portfolio investors the state-owned shares in 13 large Kazakh companies. In September, Marchenko held a tender in which eight foreign and three Kazakh investment companies competed for rights to sell the 13 companies to investors, who would then be able to trade the shares on the stock market. The delay by Kazakh president Nursultan Nazarbaev in announcing the tender result was a major reason for Marchenko’s resignation. (Reuter, October 16)
Marchenko nevertheless expressed confidence in his successor, Aben Bektasov. He also dismissed fears that a change of government would effect the BB rating accorded to it by Standard and Poor’s and Moody’s Investor Services ("after all, governments change more frequently in Italy," he stated). But Marchenko could not comment definitively on the state of government policy toward privatization. He said, however, that he had seen a governmental law in the Cabinet of Minister the week previously, which would suggest that the sale of shares would proceed. He stressed twice that the success of the stock market lay hand in hand with continued privatization and the development of pension reform. (Panorama, November 21)
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