Kazakhstan may allow pension funds to invest more abroad
/IRBIS, Feb 21, 01/ - REUTERS informs, with the reference to the chairman
of the National Bank, Grigorii Marchenko, that the National Securities
Commission of Kazakhstan will be forced to increase the proportion of
pension assets that can be invested into foreign corporate securities, unless
the government offers shares of Kazakhstani "blue chips".
Our position is as follows: if the privatization will not continue, then the
National Commission should let the pension assets management companies
(PAMC) to invest more abroad, he said.
Marchenko is also a member of the National Securities Commission, and he
said that the decision will be made on the next meeting of the Board of
directors. The proportion of the assets that the PAMC can invest into foreign
corporate securities (shares, bonds of the issuers holding at least AA
ratings) is expected to be raised up to 15 or 20% from current 10%.
As Marchenko says the pension reform, which started in 1998, was tied to
the launching of domestic stock market, though state blocks of major
Kazakhstani companies have not appeared there.
The NSC has not planned to allow to invest pension assets into corporate
securities of foreign issuers, though later it has changed its mind and allowed
to invest 5% of the assets abroad, and increased this figure later to 10%.
As of early February the assets of Kazakhstani pension funds were over
$800 mln and they have become a major source of financing on the
government bonds market, and Kazakhstani corporate bonds, though there
is still a lack of instruments.
The head of the National Bank assumes that small blocks of major
Kazakhstani companies will be offered on the stock market this year
especially for the PAMC, and it may become the grounds for the increase in
the proportion of pension assets that can be invested into corporate bonds of
Kazakhstani issuers up to 50% from current 40%.
However, he did not specify the shares of which companies would be offered
this year. The head of the NSC, Azamat Djoldasbekov suggested the
country's president to sell up to 20% of shares of national companies, such
as Kazatomprom and KazTransOil, is said. The country's president has
approved this idea, he added.
Marchenko said that if this takes place or the results become clear, then the
volume of allowed investments into corporate bonds of Kazakhstani issuers
holding A listing at the Kazakhstan Stock Exchange could be increased from
40% to 50%.