In the first half of 2001, Kazakhstan’s banks posted consolidated net profits of 4.9 billion tenge, up 53 percent from the first half of 2001 (Interfax, August 2001). Banking has been a rapidly growing business since problems in the financial system began to ease in the second half of 1999. Growth in profits is primarily due to increases in the deposit base because of the booming economy, which has made it possible for banks to increase lending, and also to wider spreads between deposit and interest rates on loans. Currently, 44 banks are in operation, including one interstate bank, one state bank and 16 banks in which foreign investors hold strategic stakes. As of July 1, 2001, consolidated assets totaled 641.9 billion tenge (US$4.4 billion) and liabilities ran 543.7 billion tenge (US$3.7 billion). The banks’ capital base has risen sharply over the last year, up 40.6 percent. It totaled 109.7 billion tenge (US$750 million) at the end of the first half of 2001. The largest bank in Kazakhstan is Kazkommertsbank, and it holds over a quarter of the entire industry’s assets.
Kazakhstan is also rapidly developing its tiny insurance market. Insurance companies received 6.8 billion tenge in insurance premiums (US$46 million) in the first half of 2001, up 78 percent from first half 2000. Casualty insurance accounts, especially automotive and fire, account for almost all premiums (5.3 billion tenge). As of July 1, there were 39 licensed insurance companies, down from 42 at the beginning of the year, including three in which the government holds a stake and four in which foreign investors own strategic stakes.
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