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Bank of New York Mellon : BNY Mellon freezes $22.6 billion in Kazakh oil fund assets

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12/21/2017 | 06:52pm CEST
FILE PHOTO:  The Bank of New York Mellon Corp. building at 1 Wall St. is seen in New York's financial district

ALMATY/LONDON (Reuters) - Bank of New York Mellon has frozen $22.6 billion in assets held by Kazakhstan's National Fund in a rare move that escalates a legal battle between the government and a Moldovan investor.

Moldova's Anatolie Stati and his companies earlier won damages against the Kazakh government and his pursuit of payment has lead to some 40 percent of the oil revenue-supported fund being frozen.

Details of the asset freeze, which took place in October, were reported by Reuters on Thursday and were subsequently disclosed at a court hearing in Britain.

"It's pretty unprecedented," said Simon Quijano-Evans, an investment strategist at Legal & General Investment Management in London. "If 40 percent of a sovereign fund is frozen and you don't have access to it, that should be an alarm bell for policymakers."

Kazakhstan's dollar bonds fell after the news while its tenge <KZT=> currency strengthened by 0.6 percent.

"Theoretically (the fund) is a national institution so it should cause a rethink for central banks and sovereign wealth funds as it’s been assumed so far that these assets were relatively immune," said Quijano-Evans.

ENERGY INVESTMENTS

At the heart of the case is a years-long legal row between businessman Stati, his son Gabriel, two family-controlled companies and the Kazakh government of President Nursultan Nazarbayev.

They invested in Kazakhstan's oil and gas industry and have asserted that they were subjected to significant harassment from the state aimed at forcing them to sell their investments cheaply.

Kazakhstan denies the allegations, but Anatolie and Gabriel Stati and two of their companies – Ascom Group S.A. and Terra Raf Trans Traiding Ltd., won an international arbitration award of around $500 million against the government.

It has refused to pay, however, and in October Kazakhstan filed a civil racketeering lawsuit in the U.S. District Court in Washington, D.C., against the Statis and their two firms.

The central bank, the National Bank, also filed a lawsuit against BNY Mellon challenging the asset freeze. However, the claim was dismissed by a judge in London on Thursday.

A spokeswoman for the Bank of New York Mellon declined to comment. Kazakhstan's justice ministry could not be reached for comment.

The freezing of the assets comes weeks after President Nazarbayev threatened to sack his cabinet if they failed to make large state companies bring back cash held abroad.

Nazarbayev, who wields sweeping powers in the oil-rich nation, poured scorn on private sector executives who, he suggested, were enjoying lavish lifestyles while keeping funds in foreign accounts.

(Additional reporting by Mariya Gordeyeva and Olzhas Ayuezov in Almaty and Sujata Rao-Coverly and Ben Martin in London; writing by Olzhas Ayuezov, Dmitry Solovyov and John O'Donnell; editing by Katya Golubkova, Jason Neely, Greg Mahlich)

By Mariya Gordeyeva and Olzhas Auyezov

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Financials ($)
Sales 2018 16 766 M
EBIT 2018 5 642 M
Net income 2018 4 200 M
Debt 2018 -
Yield 2018 1,93%
P/E ratio 2018 12,93
P/E ratio 2019 11,92
Capi. / Sales 2018 3,26x
Capi. / Sales 2019 3,17x
Capitalization 54 627 M
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Bank of New York Mellon (T Technical Analysis Chart | BK | US0640581007 | 4-Traders
Technical analysis trends BANK OF NEW YORK MELLON (T
Short TermMid-TermLong Term
TrendsBearishNeutralNeutral
Income Statement Evolution
Consensus
Sell
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Mean consensus HOLD
Number of Analysts 20
Average target price 60,4 $
Spread / Average Target 12%
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Managers
NameTitle
Charles William Scharf Chairman & Chief Executive Officer
Michael Santomassimo Chief Financial Officer
Bridget E. Engle Chief Information Officer & Senior Executive VP
Edmund Francis Kelly Independent Director
Mark A. Nordenberg Independent Director
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