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. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

Kazakh Debt Rating May Top Russia's

ALMATY -- Kazakhstan's sovereign debt ratings, expected within days, are likely to be better than those recently assigned to Russia, Western economists said Wednesday.


Grigory Marchenko, deputy chairman of the National Bank of Kazakhstan, said the former Soviet republic's ratings are expected "by the end of the week."


Representatives of the big international rating agencies -- Standard & Poor's, Moody's and London-based IBCA -- visited Kazakhstan in September in advance of Almaty's planned Eurobond issue debut later this year.


"Kazakhstan should get a better rating than Russia," said one Western economist, speaking on condition of anonymity.


Kazakh officials say they are planning a $100-million, three-year Eurobond issue in November or December, which will be lead-managed by ABN AMRO Hoare Govett.


The main aim of the Eurobond is to register a presence on international capital markets rather than to raise funds.


The rating announcement will be followed by road shows in London, New York and Tokyo, Marchenko said.


Earlier this month, the three agencies gave high speculative ratings to Russia, which also plans to launch a Eurobond before the end of the year.


Moody's assigned Russia a better-than-expected Ba2 long-term rating. S&P gave it BB-, and IBCA gave Russia BB+. These rank Russia below Hungary but above Brazil.


Although Russia might appear to have a stronger economy than Kazakhstan, the oil-rich Central Asian country has a number of points in its favor, the economists said.


One factor weighing against Russia in any rating is its large foreign debt of about $120 billion.


Kazakhstan expects a small increase in gross domestic product this year, whereas Russia is resigned to a drop in GDP of about 5 percent and expects little if any growth next year.