Bulat Utemuratov is a leading Kazakhstani businessman, regularly topping Forbes’ Kazakhstan list. Mr. Utemuratov is the key investor of the projects managed by Verny Capital Investment Group and oversees the activities of the charitable foundation which focuses on health, education, urban and cultural development in Kazakhstan.
After studying economics at the Almaty Institute for National Economy (Narxoz), Mr Utemuratov began his career as the Deputy Chairman of the Society District Executive Committee in 1986. Over the next ten years, Mr Utemuratov worked for the State Committee for Foreign Economic Relations, the Kazakh Trading House in Vienna, and then the Ministry of Foreign Economic Relations and the Ministry of Industry and Trade back in Kazakhstan.
In 1995, Mr Utemuratov, jointly with a group of partners, founded the Almaty Trade and Finance (ATF) Bank, and by 2007 was its controlling shareholder. During this time, ATF Bank grew from a small financial institution to a large group and one of the leaders of the banking sector. In 2007, Bulat Utemuratov along with minority shareholders sold ATF Bank to the Italian UniCredit group for a record $2.2 billion. According to experts, this transaction became the largest in the CIS banking sector as of 2007.
Mr Utemuratov became the Ambassador to Switzerland in 1996 before returning to Kazakhstan in 1999, where he then held various government positions within the Security Council and the Presidential Administration of the Republic of Kazakhstan, including advising the President on Economic Affairs and heading the Presidential Property Management Directorate, until 2013. Mr Utemuratov's last position in the civil service is the Special Representative of the President for Cooperation with the Kyrgyz Republic. From July 2007 to January 2022, he was a member of the Political Council of the People's Democratic Party "Nur Otan".
Alongside his business career, Mr Utemuratov is a committed philanthropist, who actively implements the principles of sustainable development and social responsibility in his investment assets. Verny Capital supports two leading educational institutions: Narxoz University, one of the leading universities in Kazakhstan, and the Haileybury International Schools in Nur-Sultan and Almaty. The University and schools are non-profit institutions whose profits are reinvested in the development of human resources, improving infrastructure and the learning process.
Notable projects undertaken by the Bulat Utemuratov Foundation include helping families raising children with autism spectrum disorders, supporting the Association of Parents of Children with Disabilities, funding major educational projects for schoolchildren – the Leadership Academy program and Green Schools, as well as large-scale reconstructions, like that of the Botanical Garden in Almaty. In cooperation with the Red Crescent Kazakhstan society and ForteBank, the Foundation provides assistance to Kazakhstanis affected by natural disasters. The Foundation initiated the launch of the Balameken project in order to help Kazakhstanis in need of housing, within its framework 390 new houses were built in 4 cities of Kazakhstan. In 2020, Mr Utemuratov donated $5.5 million to support efforts to fight the Coronavirus pandemic in Kazakhstan.
Most recently, Mr Utemuratov has donated $23 million to the newly created Qazaqstan Khalkyna Fund which will provide health, education, and social support across the country. The Fund was set up in January 2022 by President Tokayev.
The total amount of funds invested in the implementation of socially significant initiatives is equal to $100 million.
Contribution to the future of Kazakhstani athletes
Since 2007, Mr Utemuratov has served as President of the Kazakhstan Tennis Federation, and currently is a member of the Board of Directors and the Vice President of the International Tennis Federation (ITF). Mr Utemuratov has invested more than $80 million in the development of tennis in Kazakhstan, today the branches of the Kazakhstan Tennis Federation operate in all regional centers and major cities of the country, and the national teams are among the top 20 best teams in the world.