Kazakhstan SWF chief exec departs

The chief executive of the National Investment Corporation has left days after saying the country's National Oil Fund would run out of money.

The head of the organisation set up to manage one of Kazakhstan's sovereign wealth funds has been replaced after voicing criticisms of the fund's investment strategy.

Berik Otemurat, who was chief executive and chairman of the executive board at the National Investment Corporation (NIC), was replaced by Yeszhan Birtanov as of 11 January, according to a statement.

Otemurat was key in organising a dinner in New York in September attended by KKR founder Henry Kravis, Blackstone chairman Stephen Schwartzman and the Carlyle Group’s co-founder David Rubenstein, during which Kazakh president Nursultan Nazarbayev gave a speech on investment opportunities in Kazakhstan, according to reports.

Otemurat’s replacement Birtanov has worked as a chairman of the management board of the Kazakhstan Stock Exchange since July last year and helped create the National Fund, Kazakhstan's roughly $64 billion sovereign wealth fund.

The move comes days after Otemurat warned in separate media interviews that the fund could run out of money as slumping oil prices cut revenues and the government spends its savings.

The fund's assets reached a high of $77.2 billion in August last year, dropping to $63.5 billion as of December, according to central bank data.

In November, the country's central bank chief was fired after a sharp fall in the national currency.

The NIC was created in 2012 to manage part of the foreign exchange reserves of the National Bank of Kazakhstan, according to its website. Alongside traditional investments, the NIC invests in private equity, hedge funds, real estate, infrastructure and other specific non-traditional assets with a 10 to 20 year outlook.

In July 2014, the fund launched a tender for a private equity and hedge fund consultant.

It wasn't clear how much of the fund is allocated to alternative assets, and a spokesman for the NIC did not return a request for comment by press time.