Nurzhan Subkhanberdin is one of the most prominent and well-reputed pioneers of Kazakh business. As a private person and businessman, he was never affiliated with any ruling establishment party in the country and is consequently a symbol of self-made success and entrepreneurship for all generations of businessmen in Kazakhstan. His remarkable talent for leadership and unique entrepreneurial vision propelled the rise of Kazkommertsbank (KKB)- the largest private financial institution in the CIS, the former Soviet Union region, with assets more than 24 bn USD.
Mr. Subkhanberdin is a true founder of Kazakhstan’s private banking system and private business, setting up a high standard for the industry and carrying out an integral impact on the development of a Kazakh entrepreneurial spirit.
Nurzhan Subkhanberdin was born on November 29th, 1964. His father, Salken Subkhanberdin, was a high-ranking manager at a pharmaceutical trade organization, KazPharmacy, and a writer. His mother, Kapuza Subkhanberdina, was a chemistry teacher at Almaty State Medical Institute. Mr. Subkhanberdin attended Moscow State University, graduating in 1988 with a First-Class Honors degree in economics. Following his graduation, motivated by the mission to establish the young sovereign country’s banking system in terms of industry technology, banking products, and customer service, he established Kazkommertbank in 1991. Kazkommertsbank quickly became the largest and leading private bank in Kazakhstan and Central Asia providing banking services at an international standard. He oversaw all bank operations, including foreign trade, corporate finance, privatization, consulting, and advisory business.
Notably, KKB was the first Central Asian bank that was fully audited by an internationally recognized auditor (Deloitte & Touche, 1996) and to is rated by the Thomson Bank Watch-BREE agency in the region. In 1996, Mr. Subkhanberdin was among the “Top 50 Financial Leaders of the 21st Century” named by Euromoney magazine. In 1997, KKB was the first bank in the region to receive the first internationally syndicated loan and issued Eurobonds (May 1998) for the total amount of $100 million. In 2003 the European bank of Reconstruction and Development acquired a 15% stake in KKB. KKB was the only bank in Kazakhstan which was considered for stake acquisition by such a respectful financial institution as EBRD. KKB strongly kept the status of technological leader of Kazakhstan banking system as a developer of unique internet banking retail service software as well as a pioneer issuer in the country of international payment cards such as Visa, Master Card, and American Express. The Bank operated in full compliance with prudential norms of the regulator – National State Bank of the Republic of Kazakhstan, including the requirements to bank’s capital and formation of provisions for problematic loans. Since 2006 KKB’s shares listed on all major international stock exchanges. By 2007, KKB was the largest banking enterprise in the region in regards to its own capital, loan portfolio, and assets. In terms of the size of its assets, KKB was number four in the CIS (the former Soviet Union) after state-owned Russian banks such as Sberbank, Gazprombank, and VneshtorgBank. During Subkhanberdin’s management, KKB issued its obligations in the total amount of 1,5 bln USD and never announced a default state. KKB as a public company with its shares listed on world stock exchanges, having a very respectful international shareholder EBRD, as well as first-class international creditors and internationally recognized auditors was a unique example of best business practices and moral integrity of its management team. As the largest bank for almost two decades, Kazkommertsbank was integral to Kazakhstan’s private business development and growth.
In November 2001, joined by other Kazakh businessmen, Mr. Subkhanberdin established an opposition political party to promote democratic change in the country. Throughout 2006-2009 he supported the influential newspaper Vremya through his block of shares. Vremya was the main independent mass media for an alternative view of social, political, and economic events. His open support of promoting democracy in the country coupled with his independent financial success became to be considered a potential source of threat to the ruling circle’s regime in the country.
Along with his entrepreneurial activity, Mr. Subkhanberdin and other executives at KKB have been heavily involved in Kazakhstan’s philanthropic projects via the bank’s charity fund Kous Zholy. The fund was among the largest in the country and provided aid to the city of Almaty through projects that supported public welfare and infrastructure. The fund acquired new ambulances for the city, helped new productions at the State Opera and Ballet Theatre, and held International Opera festivals in Almaty. Kous Zholy provided funding for small and medium enterprises initiated by the disabled community.
Mr. Subkhanberdin holds over two decades of experience in finance and economics. Including banking and investment management in global, emerging, and frontier markets. He served as a founder and Chairman of the Board Managing Kazkommertsbank from 1991 till 2015; in 2015, he sold his stake in the company what has become his major source of wealth.