The Astana International Financial Center to Open in 2018

Baurzhan Bektemirov, managing director of the Astana International Finance Center, said in an interview that he was excited by the prospect of creating a regional hub for companies and a capital market on the site after the expo. 

For Bektemirov and his colleagues, the heavily promoted multibillion-dollar Expo 2017 that Astana is hosting until Sept. 10 is merely a warm-up. 

At the core of the AIFC will be a stock exchange and a finance hub for companies doing business under an independent court system based on English common law. Businesses that relocate to the AIFC will pay lower rents and be exempt from income tax for 50 years. 

The first former Soviet state to host Expo, Kazakhstan has established itself as a fulcrum for East-West trade and a crucible for international relations. 

The Astana Financial Services Authority has been established to regulate the industry, and even tinkered with the Kazakh constitution to accommodate a new judicial system that will be overseen by foreign judges. 

The AIFC will open for business by the end of the year. An Astana International Exchange, 25.1% owned by the Shanghai Stock Exchange and powered by Nasdaq technology, will start operating in 2018. 

The AIFC will receive a major boost next year with the expected initial public offerings of national carrier Air Astana, KazMunaiGas and nuclear agency Kazatomprom. These will have their primary listings in Astana but could sell up to 25% of their stock overseas. Kazakh law caps foreign ownership at 49% for most companies.

 "The AIFC will be a gateway to Russia and Central Asia," he said. "We are not going to compete with Singapore, Hong Kong or Dubai, that would be naive, but there is a need for a sector of excellence in the region" stated Bektemirov. 

Read full article at: Nikkei Asian Review

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