Kazakh FinMin: BTA not in active talks with Sberbank

    Kazakh Finance Minister Bolat Zhamishev said on Tuesday the Central Asian country's biggest bank, BTA, was not in active talks about a possible takeover by Russia's Sberbank.
    Kazakhstan nationalised BTA last month saying the bank would have collapsed otherwise due to the deepening financial crisis. The government said at the time it was holding discussions with Sberbank to sell a controlling stake in BTA to the Russians.
    "There are most likely no active talks at the moment," Zhamishev told Reuters on the sidelines of a conference in Moscow.
    "Certainly it (Sberbank becoming BTA shareholder) is not being discussed at the moment".
    Sberbank was not immediately available for comment.
    Concerned with the state of its cash-strapped banking system, the government bought a 78 percent stake in BTA invoking a law that allows it to buy out troubled banks without shareholder approval.
    Despite its efforts, the financial crisis has already pushed Central Asia's biggest economy to the brink of recession and forced the government to earmark $25 billion -- roughly a quarter of its annual GDP -- to combat its negative effects.
    The government sees economic growth at one percent this year after years of double-digit expansion due to high oil prices but some economists say the economy may have already slipped into recession.
    Speaking to Reuters, Zhamishev said however it was too early to talk about recession and reiterated the earlier forecast.
    "No, Kazakhstan has not entered a recession," he said. "It is estimated that growth will be positive at about one percent," he said, according to Reuters.