Uzbek government draws up plans to privatise 6 major banks

O’zsanoatqurilishbank headquarters . Photo from Dividends.nuz.uz

Uzbek president Shavkat Mirziyoyev has issued a presidential decree outlining plans for the gradual privatisation of government shares in six major banks in the country – Ipoteka-Bank, Uzpromstroybank (O’zsanoatqurilishbank), Asaka, AK Alokabank, Kishlok Qurilish Bank, and Turon Bank. The presidential decree on bank sector reform strategy was published by the state news agency UzA (in Russian).

The privatisation will be carried out in cooperation with international financial institutions. The first stage of the project envisages the institutional restructuring of the banks, and the second stage is to be the sale of government shares.

State-owned shares in three banks – the National Bank for Foreign Economic Activity, Agrobank and Microcreditbank – will be retained in order to “satisfy public demand for financial services, ensure wide support mechanisms for investment projects, and guarantee the regional accessibility of bank services during the period of the reform of the banking system”.

The decree adds that the reason for current systemic problems in the banking sector is the high degree of state involvement, the insufficient quality of administration and risk management in banks part-run by the government, and the low level of financial intermediation.

Previously, it was reported that the Uzbek government planned to sell its shares in three banks – O’zsanoatqurilishbank, Asia Alliance Bank and Alokabank. This list has now been adapted and expanded.

O’zsanoatqurilishbank/Uzpromstroybank was formed in 1922 and is one of the largest banks in the country, financing strategically important projects in the country. The remaining banks were formed in the 1990s or later.

It was also announced yesterday (13 May) that the American bank Bluestone Investment has become the first US investment bank to gain authorisation to operate in the securities market in Uzbekistan. Bluestone describes itself as “an investment bank and brokerage focused on Central Asia” which “raises capital for Central Asian companies, helps international corporations enter the market through acquisitions and offers comprehensive sales and trading execution services for global investors”. Bluestone “will bring North American and European capital, best practices and expert knowledge onto the Uzbek market”, Spot.uz cites the Uzbek Capital Market Development Agency’s press office as stating. In turn, Bluestone president Quinn Martin said that the bank was ready to act as “the link between Western capital and best practice and leading local and state companies”.

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