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10.02.2009 Commercial News Update 2009: http://www.bisnis.doc.gov
Kazakhstan General Government approves Foreign Labor Quotas Foreign Minister and US Senator Lugar holding Meeting Oil and Gas Sector Max Petroleum resumes Output at Zhana Makat Field Max Petroleum appoints Mark Johnson CEO President summons Agip KCO Heads Kazakhstan increasing Oil Transit Tariffs KKMG signs PSA on "N" Project Uzbekistan to supply Natural Gas to Kazakhstan Ukraine vows to maintain normal gas supply for customers Kazakhstan raises its stake in Kashagan to 16.8 percent Finance and Investment Kazakhstan’s GDP in 2007 reaches about 9 percent Kazakhstan Mortgage Company receives Loan from National Budget KHC explores Kazakhstan Investment Opportunities Kookmin Bank seeks Acquisition Targets in Asia DEG to provide Bank CenterCredit Subordinated Loan National Fund Assets exceed US $22 Billion KASE Trades jump nearly 2.5 Times Korean Securities Firms eye Central Asia Trade and Consumer Goods Center for the Development of Commercial Policy and Agricultural Technical University conclude Cooperation Agreement New Zealand Wine comes to Kazakhstan Vestel Elektronik plans Plant in Kazakhstan Communications and Transportation Astana Airport became Second in CIS to obtain 3rd Category ICAO Certification New Port planned in Mangistau Kazakhstan General Government approves Foreign Labor Quotas The government has approved quotas for foreign labor for 2008. The decision has been published in the official media, according to Kazakhstan Today. The official decision read that the government sought to establish the quota at a total of 1.6 percent of the “economically active population”. The quotas are separated into several different categories, which are: first and second categories (heads of administrative boards at organizations, experts with higher and secondary vocational training) - 0.60 percent; third category (qualified workers) - 0.93 percent; and fourth category (seasonal agricultural employees) - 0.07 percent. Foreign Minister and US Senator Lugar holding Meeting US Senator Richard Lugar is visiting Kazakhstan on January 10-11, Kazinform cited the MFA Press Office as reporting. Senator will hold meetings with ministries and departments on cooperation in the energy sector and the implementation of the Cooperative Threat Reduction (CTR) Program (Nunn-Lugar). He will also meet with Foreign Affairs Minister Marat Tazhin, according to Kazinform. Oil and Gas Sector Max Petroleum resumes Output at Zhana Makat Field Max Petroleum Plc, the UK oil explorer that fired its Chief Executive Officer in October, resumed production at a field in Kazakhstan after obtaining government approval for a gas plant and fuel flaring. Output at the Zhana Makat deposit was suspended in mid- December pending approval of a so-called gas-utilization plant and a permit to flare fuel. Production resumed “within two weeks of being shut-in,'' Max said today in a statement distributed by the Regulatory News Service, without elaborating, according to Bloomberg. President summons Agip KCO Heads President Nursultan Nazarbayev has summoned the heads of the six foreign oil companies headed by Eni that control the Kashagan oil field to a meeting on January 11, the Wall Street Journal reported on Monday. Chief Executive Paolo Scaroni told the newspaper he would recommend that Eni retire the almost 9 percent of its shares it holds and begin a new share-buyback program, according to Interfax. Max Petroleum appoints Mark Johnson CEO Thursday January 2008, oil and gas Exploration Company Max Petroleum Plc announced that Mark Johnson has been appointed as the company's chief executive officer and a member of its Board of Directors, effective January 22, 2008. The London, UK-based company also outlined its plans to restructure its Board of Directors. Max Petroleum noted that the new chief executive officer has more than 26 years of experience in the oil and gas sector, which includes 24 years of his working with major oil and gas companies. A mechanical, as well as a petroleum engineer by profession, Mark has held several senior posts with British Gas, Chevron (CVX), Texaco, and Transworld E&P. His worldwide experiences range from Kazakhstan, the Middle East, and West Africa to Trinidad & Tobago, and the US. During his tenure from 1998-2003 as Managing Director of the North Buzachi project in Kazakhstan for ChevronTexaco, he was instrumental in establishing the first Texaco subsidiary operating in Kazakhstan. Also, Johnson initiated the production operations, which grew to more than 9,000 barrels of oil per day, or bpd, as well as secured government approval to further increase production to 42,500 bpd. Finally, he negotiated the sale of this subsidiary to the Chinese National Petroleum Company in 2003. In conjunction with Johnson's joining the company as a director and chief executive officer, the company said that current executive chairman Jeffs would move to the post of non-executive chairman of the Board. Lee Kraus and Bob Holland will continue with their roles of non-executive directors, while Michael Young will join the Board as finance director, the company added. Further, the British company stated, that all the three key persons would constitute an executive committee of the Board, with Kraus continuing to oversee the company's farm-out process. Commenting on the appointment, Jeffs, said, “The appointment of Mark as CEO means that Max Petroleum now has the senior management team in place to implement its ambitious growth plans. We have met the challenges of 2007. The company is in as strong a position as ever to capitalize on its highly prospective assets in Kazakhstan.” MXP.L is currently trading on the LSE at 67.75 pence, up 2.75 pence, or 4.23 percent, on a volume of 796,465 shares, according to RTT News. Kazakhstan increasing Oil Transit Tariffs The Agency for the Regulation of Natural Monopolies has issued new tariffs for oil transit tariffs via KazTransOil pipelines. The export tariff for the transit of 1 ton of oil per 1 square kilometer will increase by 24,9 percent to KZT 3,015 (US $ 24.9) excluding VAT. The tariff was formerly KZT 2,413 (US $19.96), according to RosBusinessConsulting. KMG signs PSA on "N" Project The Ministry of Energy and Mineral Resources and KazMunaiGas have signed a production sharing agreement (PSA) for a project simply called "N". The ministry has decided to give KazMunaiGas subsoil usage rights for the N contract site under a PSA with the inclusion of a signature bonus and an operations program that includes ecological projects and the drilling two exploration wells. The PSA stipulates that the company should fund social projects, train Kazakhstani professionals, and conduct monitoring over the contract territory, the KMG Press Office reported. Uzbekistan to supply Natural Gas to Kazakhstan The administration of KazMunaiGas, KazTransGas, Gazprom and Uzbekneftegas met in Tashkent, where Kazakhstan and Uzbekistan reached an agreement on natural gas supply to the southern regions of Kazakhstan in 2008, the KMG Press Office reported. A related press release stated that the price would remain at its current level. Kazakhstan's demand for imported natural gas will be met fully, according to IA Trend. Ukraine vows to maintain normal gas supply for customers Prime Minister Yulia Tymoshenko promised on Wednesday that Ukraine would maintain normal supplies of natural gas for its domestic and foreign customers despite national oil and gas company Naftogaz being, in her words, "on the verge of bankruptcy." "We will prevent any irregularity and will be doing everything to prevent any instability being felt either in Europe or Ukraine," Tymoshenko told reporters after meeting with new Naftogaz chief Oleh Dubyna. The premier said her government would investigate alleged former shady schemes at Naftogaz but promised that it would be very careful to prevent the inquiry from having any adverse effect on Ukraine's gas trade with other countries, such as Russia, Turkmenistan, Kazakhstan and Uzbekistan, according to Interfax. Kazakhstan raises its stake in Kashagan to 16.8 percent ASTANA. Jan 14 - The Kazakh side has carried through talks on the Kashagan project with other stakeholders in the Agip KCO consortium running the project, a source close to the talks told Interfax. "Kazakhstan defended its position. All the country's interests have been maintained," the source said. “Kazakhstan has increased its stake in the project and has become a major stakeholder; it received the demanded compensation as well," the source said. Meanwhile, Kazakh Energy and Mineral Resources Minister Sauat Mynbayev said that Kazakhstan reached an agreement to increase the stake of KazMunaiGaz, a Kazakh national oil and gas company, in Kashagan project up to 16.8 percent; however, a price agreement has yet to be reached with ExxonMobil, one of the major stakeholders in the project. In the summer of 2006, the Kazakh side protested the slow pace of the Kashagan project and an increase in projected costs to $136 billion from $57 billion previously. It threatened to strip Italy's Eni of its status as project operator. The two sides have been in negotiations ever since. The Agip KCO consortium was formed shortly after the signing of the production-sharing agreement on Kashagan in 1997. The Kashagan PSA includes three other structures: Kalamkas, Aktote and Kairan. The four structures consist of 11 offshore blocks covering 5,600 square kilometers. Kashagan's recoverable reserves are estimated at 7-9 billion barrels at a minimum, while oil-in-place may total as much as 38 billion barrels, according to Agip KCO. KazMunayGas has held an 8.33 percent share in Agip KCO. Project operator Eni holds an 18.52 percent stake, as do Total, ExxonMobil and Royal Dutch Shell, ConocoPhillips has 9.26 percent, and Inpex - 8.33 percent. Finance and Investment Kazakhstan’s GDP in 2007 reaches about 9 percent Kazakhstan’s gross domestic product (GDP) in 2007, according to preliminary estimates, amounted to 8.7 percent, Prime Minister Karim Masimov said during a televised government meeting in Astana on Tuesday. “The country’s economy last year continued to develop at a high pace and, according to preliminary estimates -- economic growth amounted to 8.7 percent,” Karim Masimov said. He recalled that more strict conditions for obtaining access to funds on international markets have complicated opportunities for bringing in external financing to Kazakh banks. “As a result, it is expected that in 2008, real GDP growth will amount to 5-7 percent,” Mr. Masimov said, according to Itar Tass. Kazakhstan Mortgage Company receives Loan from National Budget The Kazakhstan Mortgage Company JSC has informed the KASE by official letter that on December 27, 2007, the government provided the company with loan from the national budget of KZT 12 billion. The credit was supplied according to a government resolution dated December 26, 2007 #1295. The loan has a 20-year payback period with a 0.1 percent interest rate. The purpose of the loan is to decrease the cost of mortgages from second-tier banks, according to KASE KHC explores Kazakhstan Investment Opportunities Chairman of Kingdom Holding Company (KHC), Prince Alwaleed bin Talal bin Abdulaziz Al Saud, received the Kazakhstani Ambassador to Saudi Arabia, Kairat Lama Sharif, at his office. They discussed economic and investment issues related to their respective countries. Ambassador Sharif commended Prince Alwaleed on his local and international investments in the various sectors that include hotels, banking and media. The meeting focused on potential investments in Kazakhstan. Moreover, the Ambassador extended an invitation to Prince Alwaleed to visit his country in the near future to explore investment opportunities there. The meeting concluded with the Prince expressing his willingness to explore investment opportunities in Kazakhstan and to visit soon, according to the Khaleej Times. Kookmin Bank seeks Acquisition Targets in Asia Bank CEOs said they would focus on developing new earning sources and strengthening risk management capabilities this year, instead of pursuing aggressive asset growth. In their New Year's messages, they forecast banks would face stronger competition with non-banking firms in 2008 as more depositors are expected to draw their funds out of bank accounts to invest in stocks and bonds. Kookmin CEO Kang Chung-won said he would make efforts to develop new growth engines, overseas markets and strengthen non-banking businesses to overcome the challenges. ``This year, we plan to set up branches in Suzhou and Harbin in China. We will also try to find other acquisition targets in Asia,'' Kang said. Kang earlier said Kookmin is looking to take over controlling stakes in unspecified banks in Indonesia and Kazakhstan as part of its global expansion strategy. He said Kookmin would become a majority stakeholder in banks in some Asian markets, and set up operations in China and Vietnam. The ongoing paradigm shift in the banking sector will pose threats to lenders, but it can also be an opportunity to achieve sustainable growth, he said. Reaffirming his goal of making the country's largest lender into a leading Asian bank, Kang said he is eager to increase investments on global markets, according to the Korea Times. DEG to provide Bank CenterCredit Subordinated Loan Bank CenterCredit has signed a US $40 million subordinated loan agreement with the German Development and Investment Company (DEG) German for a 7-year period; Kazinform cited a DEG press release as stating. The loan will be used to fund long-term projects executed by the bank’s clients. DEG - Deutsche Investitions-und Entwicklungsgesellschaft mbH - a member of KfW Bankengruppe is one of the largest European development institutions, KazInform reports. National Fund Assets exceed US $22 Billion In 2007, the National Fund assets exceeded US $22 billion; Kazinform cited a Karavan interview with Anvar Saidenov, chairman of National Bank in its statement: “I suppose as of the end of the year, the National Fund assets will be considerable at last. They could exceed US $22 billion, or possibly US $22.5 billion,” Mr. Saidenov said. He added that in the case of a threat to our economy, the National Fund would act as the main cushion. “The worst scenario would be -- as a result of the slowing of the world economy, the growth in oil prices could fall rapidly. For the Kazakhstani economy, this would be a very negative trend, because it would affect not only economic growth, but also the potential budget, which could reduce social programs. For this purpose, we have a number of “cushions”. The National Fund is the most important of these, and has been established for these purposes in particular,” he said, according to Kazakhstan Today. KASE Trades jump nearly 2.5 Times In 2007, the sale and purchase of shares on the Kazakhstan Stock Exchange reached US $8.94 trillion – following an increase by almost 2.5 times. In 2007, the sale and purchase of corporate bonds jumped by 43 percent to US $4.3 trillion, according to Khabar. The main purchasers on the Kazakhstan Stock Exchange are banks, pensions and mutual funds, according to the Khabar Agency. Korean Securities Firms eye Central Asia Securities companies are accelerating efforts to boost their global networks by setting up beachheads overseas in line with the Capital Market Consolidation Act. Brokerage houses such as Daishin and Daewoo are lining up this year to set up offices in oil-rich Kazakhstan. Daishin Securities said the Central Asian country is attractive because of its abundant energy reserves, and an increasing number of domestic companies are looking to expand there. By setting up its base there ahead of others, it plans to increase its services to firms with the aim of becoming a global investment bank. After making inroads into China, Vietnam and Indonesia, Daewoo Securities is also considering Kazakhstan as its next growth platform. It said it plans to set up a unit there to expand services in the Central Asian region. Hyundai Securities, meanwhile, is aiming to launch a fund investing in energy companies in Kazakhstan by the end of this month. Woori Investment & Securities, Korea Investment & Securities and Good Morning Shinhan Securities are also considering expanding into Central Asia this year. Mirae Asset Securities plans to open offices in India this year. The company with its sister firm, Mirae Asset Investments, plans to establish bases in the United States. Mirae Asset Group already has units in Hong Kong, China, Vietnam and the UK. Park Hyun-joo, the group chairman, noted in his New Year speech that it is time to ambitiously seek overseas markets for further growth. Woori Investment is aiming to build up networks in Southeast Asia by launching its first global hedge fund operated in Singapore. It said the fund will invest in a variety of products such as equities, real estate and energy, targeting annual returns of 20 percent, according to Korea Times. Trade and Consumer Goods Center for the Development of Commercial Policy and Agricultural Technical University conclude Cooperation Agreement The Center for the Development of Commercial Policy at the Ministry of Industry and Commerce of Kazakhstan and the Institute for the Development of Professional Skills at the S. Seifullin Kazakh Agricultural Technical University have signed a framework cooperation agreement, according to Kazakhstan Today The agreement was concluded to disseminate knowledge about WTO accession and international commercial policy. "Trade in agricultural products is one of the main sectors of international commerce. Therefore, cooperation between the Kazakh Agricultural Technical University and the Center for the Development of Commercial Policy for knowledge exchanges and training of experts in the agricultural sector is a priority," the President of the Center for the Development of Commercial Policy, Dzhanybek Iskakov said: "The negotiations concerning agriculture in the context of the process of joining the WTO, taking into account the new round of negotiations on the liberalization of world trade between WTO members are one of the most complex and long lasting, as agriculture plays a main role in the economy of almost all countries of the world," he said. Bilateral negotiations with WTO member countries for Kazakhstan's aspiration to join the WTO should be completed in 2008, according to Kazakhstan Today Raimbek Group introducing Hypermarkets to Kazakhstan The Raimbek Company is introducing a format of shopping center to Kazakhstan – a wholesale market chain. Raimbek plans 20 new hypermarkets in all large cities across the country, Berik Tapyshev, general director of the Wholesale Club LLP (retail division under the Raimbek Group) said that investments for the project would be US $500 million. A single wholesale location will require from US $10 to US $40 million. The estimated period for a return on investment per site is 7 years. These new hypermarkets will be based on Sam’s Club and Costco in the US and the Cash & Carry in Europe. The company will take out loans to finance the construction. Its main partner is Bank CenterCredit. According to Tapishev, the first wholesale market will be opened in Almaty in the winter of 2008. The store will offer 10 thousand types of goods – from food to household appliances. He says that wholesales markets will help consumers economize their time and money, with a mark up of less than 5 percent. Raimbek Group plans to begin with 5 wholesale markets in Almaty, Biznes & Vlast reports. New Zealand Wine comes to Kazakhstan A tiny Martinborough winery is toasting its first order in Kazakhstan, and Kiwis living in the country are already eagerly awaiting their first sip from home. The Alexander Vineyard hopes that when you ask Kazakh's what comes from New Zealand, this is what they would say. "The 2005 Alexander pinot is a gold medal winner, it has good body, fruity, and is enjoyable," says Michael Finucane of Alexander Vineyard. In what's believed to be a Kiwi wine industry first, it's being exported to the Central Asian republic - the ninth-largest country in the world. So far there are only 20 cases, but the vineyard is already receiving emails from excited expatriates. This is some welcome news for the family operation after frosts wiped out 96 percent of its harvest. Despite being awarded five stars, the winery is virtually unknown in New Zealand, but it boasts fans in Japan, America and Russia, according to TVNZ (New Zealand). Vestel Elektronik plans Plant in Kazakhstan Executive board member of the Turkish Vestel Elektronik, Levent Hatay was quoted as saying in business daily Referans that the company aims to grow 60-70 percent in 2008, both domestically and in exports. It plans to open two television factories abroad, including one in Kazakhstan, according to Reuters. Communications and Transportation Astana Airport became Second in CIS to obtain 3rd Category ICAO Certification The Astana International Airport has received a certificate confirming its compliance with ICAO Category 3 A requirements for two landing strips simultaneously. The Civil Aviation Committee jointly with the Commission for the Certification of Aerodromes and Equipment under the Interstate Aviation Committee (IAC) conducted the certification. The state-of-the-art technology introduced at the airport allows dispatchers to identify aircraft during periods of low visibility. This is the second airport in the CIS following Pulcovo in Saint Petersburg to obtain third category ICAO certification for two landing strips simultaneously. The Domodedovo and Sheremetyevo-2, Moscow airports also have third category certification, but with a single runway, the MTC Press Office reported. New Port planned in Mangistau The Sartas Port is scheduled to be commissioned in Mangistau Oblast under the execution of the Sartas – Teniz Port project. According to plan, a new ship repair plant, as well as small metalwork and Ferro concrete production complexes will be constructed. Moreover, the port will include a ship filling station, a floating concrete-mixing plant, and self-propelled barges for the technical maintenance of ships. Total investments into construction are estimated at US $310 million. According to experts, the implementation of the project will provide for the constant service of sea-based oilfield facilities through reducing the load on the Aktau and Bautino ports, Khabar reported. Some of the figures listed in the text are in local currency – KZT (KZT). The current exchange rate is 1 USD = 120.5 KZT

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