Kazakhstan is a great place to do business, but be prepared for a more bureaucratic approach than you may be used to here in the UK.
Recent changes mean that British Citizens can no longer expect to obtain a business visa at the airport in Kazakhstan – you’ll need to apply well in advance of your visit, and include a letter of invitation from your business contact. Our experience is that the more formal approach doesn’t necessarily mean that you can be sure when documents will be processed. Our up-to-the-minute knowledge means that we can help you understand what’s likely to happen when, and how you can make sure everything goes to plan.
At the moment, UK businesses can wholly own locally-registered companies, although it’s always been worthwhile working closely with a local partner. With extensive natural assets in Kazakhstan, it’s understandable that the government are looking for ways to secure investment, while also developing local jobs. Major companies in Kazakhstan have to report their spend on local content, with ownership of their contractors being a factor.
Based on discussions with our local contacts, we have taken the view that it is likely that new businesses in Kazakhstan will increasingly need a locally-based majority shareholder with a shareholding of at least 50% in order to satisfy government targets. We anticipate Kazakhstan following the middle-eastern model where at least 51% of shares must be locally-owned. Our experience of the middle eastern model has been that it is realistic to expect to be able to secure a local sponsor who will hold a majority of shares in trust, while the international investor holds the beneficial interest and generates revenue through items supplied directly and management fees and royalties for the support they provide.
Let us know if you would like to get out to visit potential customers in Kazakhstan, or if your next step is to set up in country.