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Meet the Woman Charged With Saving the Kazakh Banking System

  • Halyk to hold a third of Kazakh banking assets after merger
  • CEO Shayakhmetova says bank may pay dividend this year
Umut Shayakhmetova
Umut Shayakhmetova

Photographer: Andrey Rudakov/Bloomberg

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After a decade of financial turmoil, Kazakhstan is looking to the head of its largest lender to restore the banking system to health.

Umut Shayakhmetova, the 48-year-old chief executive officer of Halyk Bank, is weighing the lender’s first dividend since 2015. The potential payout is a sign of stabilization in the banking system after years of turmoil culminated in Halyk being drafted in to recapitalize its main competitor, Kazkommertsbank. Following the purchase, for a symbolic sum, Halyk shoveled the bad debt of its new acquisition into a special-purpose state fund.