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. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

Kazakhstan's Top Bank Prepares For 'Tense' Talks With Creditors

ALMATY, Kazakhstan -- BTA said Tuesday that it was preparing for "tense" talks with creditors to prevent early debt repayment claims following its nationalization earlier this month.

The Kazakh government bought a 75 percent stake in BTA, the country's largest bank, in early February through a capital injection of about $2 billion to help bolster it against the financial crisis.

The takeover enables some BTA creditors to demand early debt repayment because of loan agreement clauses known as change-of-control covenants.

"We have received one claim that has been put forward, and we intend to hold talks on this," BTA deputy CEO Roman Solodchenko told a news conference Tuesday.

He said the claim came from an investor based "in the East," but declined to elaborate.

Speaking at the same conference, BTA chief executive Anvar Saidenov said the bank would start talks with other creditors to persuade them not to put up new claims.

"There may be a bit of a speculative mood among the creditors," Saidenov said. "But I think most of the creditors are reasonable investors who are looking to build long-term relationships and will behave rationally."

BTA's total foreign debt is about $12 billion, of which slightly less than $3 billion is due this year -- unless creditors make additional demands, he said.

BTA has struggled to restore confidence among depositors following this month's nationalization.

Deepening depositors' worries, former BTA chairman Mukhtar Ablyazov accused the government of "corporate raiding."

On Friday, BTA blocked all of its credit cards. Saidenov said the move stemmed from a planned processing system upgrade but its timing was "an unfortunate coincidence."