June 15, 2018 / 10:54 AM / 6 months ago

China Citic Bank outlines big ambitions for new Kazakh unit

ALMATY, June 15 (Reuters) - China Citic Bank Corp has set a target to more than triple the assets of its newly acquired Kazakh unit, Altyn Bank, within three years, saying it can take advantage of growing trade under Beijing’s Belt and Road project.

China Citic board chairwoman Li Qingping said on Friday that the bank aims for Altyn Bank’s assets to reach $4 billion by 2021.

The Chinese bank completed its purchase of a 50.1 percent stake in Altyn Bank from Kazakhstan’s Halyk Bank last month after initially agreeing the deal in 2016.

Under its new owners Altyn will serve more than 300 Chinese companies already working in the former Soviet republic and would also develop private banking services for wealthy citizens in Kazakhstan, Li told reporters in Almaty after attending Altyn’s annual general meeting.

“Kazakhstan is the first stop along the Belt and Road,” she said.

China is one of Kazakhstan’s biggest trading partners and Chinese companies are investing in a special economic zone on the Kazakh-Chinese border as part of Beijing’s Belt and Road initiative to boost trade along the old Silk Road trading route.

Altyn Bank was a subsidiary of HSBC until it was sold to Halyk in 2014.

Li said that as well as seeking to boost assets from the current $1.2 billion, China Citic wanted Altyn to achieve a return on equity of at least 16 percent. Li said it would ask shareholders to boost Altyn’s capital if necessary.

China Shuangwei Investment Corporation, a wholly owned subsidiary of China Tobacco Corporation, bought a 9.9 percent stake in Altyn alongside China Citic. Halyk, Kazakhstan’s biggest lender by assets, retains a 40 percent stake.

Private banking is a fledgling sector in Kazakhstan with mainly Russian banks currently providing such services. (Reporting by Olzhas Auyezov; Editing by Susan Fenton)

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