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. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

ABN-Amro and IFC Partner Kazakh Bank

ALMATY, Kazakhstan - The International Finance Corporation has announced its first investment in Kazakhstan, buying a 20 percent stake in a joint venture with ABN-Amro, Holland's largest bank.

The corporation, part of the World Bank Group, announced at a press conference this week that it will take a 20 percent share in ABN-Amro Bank Kazakhstan, with 51 percent held by ABN-Amro and 29 percent by Kramds Bank, a private Kazakh bank.

Maarten Reuchlin, senior executive vice president of ABN-Amro, said that the joint venture bank would focus on services to foreign trade, such as letters of credit, foreign exchange transfers, and consultancy for foreign companies looking to do business in Kazakhstan.

William Ryrie, executive vice president of the IFC, said the venture would help IFC promote modernization of the Kazakh banking system and assist foreign investors in starting business in the region.

"The outlook for foreign investment in Kazakhstan is quite favorable and the ABN-Amro Bank Kazakhstan is the first of several investments the Corporation hopes to make in Kazakhstan during this fiscal year", Ryrie said.

Several joint ventures between foreign business and local oil and gas producers, miners and service industries had already approached the corporation for support, he said.

Paul Maxwell, representative of ABN-Amro in Almaty, said in an interview that the bank will be the first major joint venture bank in Kazakhstan, with a starting capital of $10 million. Three smaller banks have set up joint ventures. Maxwell said the bank hopes to get a license in the next few months and open next year.

While ABN-Amro hopes to get a full banking license for a subsidiary in Moscow, the bank opted for a joint venture as the best way to gain experience, Maxwell said.

Banks are allowed to open wholly foreign-owned subsidiaries in Kazakhstan but no bank has yet applied for such a license, he said.

In Russia, two fully foreign-owned banks, Dresdner-BNP Russia and Credit Lyonnais, have opened this year with full banking licenses.