Bloomberg News

Kazakhs Seek to Buy Out BAE Systems Stake Before Air Astana IPO

February 04, 2012

Feb. 4 (Bloomberg) -- Kazakhstan’s sovereign wealth fund Samruk-Kazyna is in talks to acquire a 49 percent stake held in Air Astana by BAE Systems Plc, Europe’s largest defense group, before a possible initial public offering next year.

“We need to buy BAE Systems’ stake in Air Astana to sell between 10 percent and 15 percent” to Kazakh citizens, which is why there is no final decision on the IPO yet, Air Astana Chairman Nurzhan Baidauletov, who is also a managing director at Samruk-Kazyna, told reporters in Almaty today. The fund, which owns 51 percent in the airline, doesn’t want to reduce its stake, he said.

Air Astana may sell shares as part of a government drive to reduce stakes in assets owned by Samruk-Kazyna, the Economic Development and Trade Ministry said in August. The company ordered new aircraft valued at $1 billion from Airbus SAS, Boeing Co. and Embraer SA to expand and modernize its fleet, Air Astana President Peter Foster said Feb. 1.

The carrier agreed to buy four Boeing 767-300ER planes and three Boeing 787-8 Dreamliners, Air Astana said in a statement released today. The company is also awaiting delivery of six A320 jets and two Embraer 190s, Foster said on Feb. 1.

Baidauletov declined to say how much Kazakhstan may pay to BAE Systems for its holding in Air Astana.

--With assistance from Scott Rose in Moscow. Editor: Paul Abelsky

To contact the reporter on this story: Nariman Gizitdinov in Almaty at ngizitdinov@bloomberg.net

To contact the editor responsible for this story: Stephen Voss at sev@bloomberg.net


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