McDonald's Enters Kazakhstan Headed by Presidential In-law

  • Former energy executive Kairat Boranbayev runs local franchise
  • Fast-food chain seeks to open as many as 15 Kazakh restaurants

Twenty-six years after entering the Soviet Union, McDonald’s Corp. is reaching the oil-rich republic of Kazakhstan through a franchise run by a relative of the central Asian country’s president.

The world’s largest restaurant chain will open its first location in Astana, Kazakhstan’s capital, on March 8 and plans to have 15 outlets in the near term, franchisee Kairat Boranbayev, the former head of a state-run natural gas venture with Russia’s Gazprom PJSC, told reporters in Moscow.

McDonald’s head for Russia and Eastern Europe Khamzat Khasbulatov said Boranbayev was picked because he has the McDonald’s franchise in Belarus, with 11 restaurants. The company was in talks about Kazakhstan for several years before Boranbayev’s daughter married Kazakh President Nursultan Nazarbayev’s grandson, he said.

McDonald’s has expanded the number of franchises in the former Soviet Union, after starting with owned restaurants in Russia, to compete against the expansion of rival brands Burger King and KFC.

Kazakhstan, with more than 17 million citizens, has the highest gross domestic product among ex-Soviet republics after Russia. The economy rose 1.2 percent last quarter, despite a recession in neighboring Russia.

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