Risks to business are geopolitics, devaluation, excessive regulation and terrorism. In 2017, 59% of executives of Kazakh companies expect growth in their revenues. Investment projects of large subsoil users will become one of the most important factors of the country’s economic growth. These results are reflected in the fifth annual study of the opinions of company executives, prepared by PricewaterhouseCoopers Kazakhstan.
This year, 56 heads of Kazakhstani medium and large companies took part in the study. Most of the interviewed leaders described the situation in 2016 as a “survival game”. In 2017, more than half of them predict an increase in the incomes of their business. The share of “absolutely confident” in the growth of their own company’s revenue has more than doubled compared to 2016 and reached 59%. Taking into account “confident to some extent” (25% of the interviewed CEOs), the percentage of optimistic managers is 84% (65% last year). The improvement of the commodity market conditions helped to gain confidence.
Nine out of ten (91%) executives are confident in the growth of their companies’ turnover in the next three years. The share of “absolutely confident” out of them is 48%, “partially confident” – 43%.
Konstantin Yeliseyev, head of the practice of accompanying transactions in Eurasia PricewaterhouseCoopers (PwC), said that according to the leaders of the companies, the project of the future expansion of Tengizchevroil, the start of oil production in Kashagan and the planned expansion of the Karachaganak field, will be one of the main sources of economic growth.
“This is not the only lever for growth, but all argue that the most important factor (growth in the economy in 2017 – approx.) is the expansion project of the Tengiz field, as well as other large commodity projects. Managers have also expectations of China’s investment in the transfer of production from China to Kazakhstan. But these are only agreements, while TCO and NCOC are already investing real money, ” he said in an interview with abctv.kz.
Konstantin Yeliseyev added that after eliminating the disparity with the ruble Kazakhstani companies again had the opportunity to compete with Russian enterprises. Let us recall that disparity between the tenge and the ruble was formed from the end of 2014 to August 2015. At that time, Kazakhstan still adhered to a fixed exchange rate of the national currency (the currency corridor), meanwhile in Russia, the ruble devaluated (transition to a free-floating exchange rate). As a result, prices of Russian goods and services fell sharply in comparison with Kazakhstan. Domestic light industry enterprises could not compete with neighboring producers. In addition, company executives could not note that over the past year the economy has reduced its dependence on raw materials.
According to Yerlan Ospanov, General Director of the investment group “Verny Kapital”, whose opinion reported in the study, the operating performance of companies in the gold mining, telecommunications, education, cement and aviation industries is expected to grow in 2017.
“The banking sector, most likely, is waiting for a great consolidation, a fall is not expected, but also a large-scale growth,” the authors of the study cite Yerlan Ospanov in the document.
Seven out of ten (71%) Kazakhstani respondents rely on organic growth to ensure growth and profitability. This year only 43% of companies plan to reduce costs.
In addition, companies are weakly interested in mergers and acquisitions (M & A). The authors of the study note that “this is not the best news” for Kazakhstan’s privatization plans. Only 39% of the surveyed Kazakh leaders announced plans to create new strategic alliances or joint ventures. Similar results were shown in the survey in Russia (40%), in the world – 48% of respondents. Only 14% of companies are planning new M&A deals. Only 5% of executives announced intentions to sell or withdraw from the market, in Russia – 6%, in the world – 15%.
Among the risks with high uncertainty, the leaders of Kazakhstan companies are most alarmed by geopolitical instability and the second place is the volatility of the exchange rate. The greatest influence on Kazakhstan and on business, according to the heads of companies, was the continued Western sanctions against Russia. The substantial integration of the economies of the two neighboring states encourages some foreign investors to make decisions regarding Kazakhstan in line with their decisions on Russia. Among the geopolitical events affecting Kazakhstan and business, respondents named Russia-Kazakhstan relations (16% of respondents) and Donald Trump’s victory in the US presidential elections (16%), as well as the activity of the Eurasian Economic Union (14%). . The EAEC is considered by business leaders as a politicized association, and not exclusively an economic phenomenon. Strong concern of Kazakhstan’s leaders is still caused by the volatility of tenge exchange rate: 84% of respondents said this. Moreover, among the threats that affect the growth of the organization, CEOs called excessive regulation (84% of respondents).
Threat of terrorism can also affect business in Kazakhstan, 73% of respondents argues. For comparison, in Russia only 52% of top management is concerned with this issue, and 54% in the world.
“The government should note that to attract investors to Kazakhstan, it is necessary to adjust the information background and assure that the situation is under control,” said PwC top manager Konstantin Eliseev.
Only 14% of respondents noted positive investment attractiveness in Kazakhstan. In turn, 38% of respondents felt that the investment climate has deteriorated, 21% found it difficult to answer, in the opinion of 27% it has not changed. “The investment climate in Kazakhstan deteriorated in 12 months, while it was recovering in the rest of the world. Investors are easier to forget about the problems in this region, taking advantage of opportunities elsewhere. However, the situation will change greatly in 2017. The price of global assets has grown very much, and thanks to devaluation of tenge Kazakhstan looks attractive, ” Blair Pollock, head of Qazaq Air, said.
In 2017, the overwhelming majority (91%) of leaders intend to maintain and even increase the number of employees. Only 7% of respondents are planning to reduce staff. Among the reasons for reduction in staff, in descending order, are the optimization of costs, the transfer of part of business processes to outsourcing and automation. Note that in 2016, the business reduced fewer employees than planned. “Last year, 40% of Kazakh business leaders believed that they would have to resort to cutting costs – laying people off,” Konstantin Eliseev summed up.