Shortlisted 2019



Astana Financial Centre

Entered by:

Bloomberg Media Group


Astana Means Business

The Challenge

What do you know about Kazakhstan? For even the most experienced business traveller the most common response is, “very little” – or, worse still, Borat.

For a country that is only six hours from the UK, almost as large as the whole of western Europe, and with
burgeoning international ambitions, it needs better awareness and an image makeover.

The Astana International Finance Centre (AIFC) was looking for a global media partner to help tell the story of a
country in transition, led by a new capital and financial district.

The focus needed to be placed on driving international interest, generating foreign direct investment and helping to
educate the wider business community. Kazakhstan’s development plan, Strategy 2050, has the objective of
propelling the country into the world’s Top 30 global economies by the middle of the century.

A key tenet of this strategy is the ability to develop new markets and partnerships and to create a favourable
investment climate.

Oil and mining remain big business in Kazakhstan, but the economy is rapidly diversifying, and the AIFC needed
suitable media opportunities to convey how it is attracting a new generation of investors, wealth creators, SMEs and

Underpinning these ambitions are the opportunities created by the Fourth Industrial Revolution and the Belt & Road Initiative (BRI).

Kairat Kelimbetov, Governor of the AIFC, summed up the challenge as: “The most important thing is to let people
know there is a new marketplace in the region; it’s a really good opportunity. Astana is the heart of Kazakhstan.”

The Strategy

Bloomberg Intelligence (global analysts and economists) took a deep dive into Central Asia in general, and
Kazakhstan in particular, to provide a complete overview into how Astana has more than quadrupled in size since being named Kazakhstan’s capital just 20 years ago. It is a major player in the Central Asian economy and home to a dynamic, business-savvy population of 1 million people, with an average age of 30.

Bloomberg’s specialists tracked how Real GDP continues to rise (up 4 percent last year), and the country’s level of
foreign direct investment is the highest in the region; on a net accumulated basis, FDI stands at almost $300 billion.
Its extensive land border with China and a strategic location at the heart of the Belt & Road Initiative (BRI),
Kazakhstan’s potential for businesses and investors remains vast.

Initially led by investment in the oil, gas and mining sectors, funding has spread more generally across businesses
and industries in recent years. This diversification has been helped through ongoing liberalization of FDI laws and
the provision of incentives, including tax reductions and government subsidies.

Bloomberg Media Studios also interviewed a number of financial technology companies to gauge general
perceptions of the market and its potential.


  • Business leaders wanted a comprehensive market overview.
    How is Kazakhstan maximizing the new opportunities created by the Fourth Industrial Revolution and the BRI?
  • What is Islamic Finance?
    It’s a term that is gaining traction but the true meaning and its own specific definition remains unknown to many, there was an educational piece needed here.
  • News on the AIX – there was understandable interest in the new financial exchange, people wanted to know how it might stimulate markets and make investing in Kazakhstan a simple process.
  • More on AIFC activities
    The AIFC is still a new entity and our research told us that business leaders wanted to know more about its services for registered companies and individuals doing business in the country, and its AIFC Court, the first in the region to operate under the principles of English law.

These insights formed the basis of a multimedia campaign that would explain how the country’s strong focus on
creating a new financial infrastructure and investment culture is embodied in the formation of the AIFC.

The Implementation


Why Invest in Kazkhstan?
This article focused on the investment opportunities provided by the New Silk Road connectivity, tax incentives and
comprehensive structural and regulatory reform. It highlights the diversification of business in the region by drawing
on data and trends from Bloomberg Intelligence, OECD, WTO, UN, and the AIFC.

Kazakhstan Adopts English Law to Inspire Investor Confidence
The AIFC Court—a major feature of the new AIFC, opened on Jan. 1, 2018 and is completely independent of
Kazakhstan’s judicial system, operating using English civil law and procedures and staffed by nine of the U.K.’s most
distinguished judges. Interviewees include Chief Justice Lord Woolf who is leading the AIFC Court.

Kazakhstan Launches the Astana International Exchange
The AIX is a key component of the Astana International Financial Centre, launched in July 2018, to stimulate markets and make investing and doing business in Kazakhstan a simple process. Interviewees include Timothy Bennett, AIX’s new CEO, and delved into its ambitions.

What is Islamic Finance
We decided the best way to convey the key goals and definitions about this method of financing was to create an
infographic that could be viewed at a glance. We interviewed the AIFC’s Islamic Finance team of specialists to
produce a comprehensive but digestible resource.

Social examples

Video1 Astana: The Heart of Kazakhstan
Interviews in this video take place at the AIFC, on campus at the internationally acclaimed Nazarbayev University,
inside the spectacular sphere of Nur Alem museum and pre-performance at Astana’s new Opera House, as well as
local businesses. Watch here

Video2 Astana: Open for Business
This video explored how the complete, systemic overhaul of large companies and supply chains in this age of
digitalization plays to the strengths of Astana’s burgeoning new economy. Interviewees include Governor of AIFC,
Chairman of ForteBank and Chairman of the new Legal Advisory Council Watch Here

The Result

“Our partnership with Bloomberg has formed a central tenet to our ambitious business development strategy, where we hope to place the AIFC firmly on the business map. The Bloomberg team captured the energy and opportunities emanating from our young city, while the well-researched features in Businessweek and have enabled us to convey our journey so far and really underline the burgeoning new business opportunities. When you are congratulated for your powerful and effective communications output by leaders at Davos – like we were – you know you’re swimming in the right pool with the right equipment.”

  • Yelden Sarbay, Head of Marketing, AIFC

100,000+ page views
2min 35 average dwell time on desktop

153,000 views via Facebook
87,000 views via Twitter
Astana: The Heart of Kazakhstan video – 3,036 plays.
Astana: Open for Business video – 2,725 plays.
A social video achieved 87k views on Twitter and 153k views on Facebook.

75,924 Twitter referrals
169,456 Facebook referrals
Average Tout CTR of 0.39% (above 0.29% benchmark)

Is Astana the Youngest, Most Vibrant Capital in the World? smashed benchmark CTR at 0.86%.

  • A number of investors from large institutions and government bodies have since been in contact with the AIFC.
  • The AIFC will be using the videos as part of an international roadshow throughout 2019.
  • The partnership continues, with a major audience perception study now underway, conducted by Bloomberg
    and DVJ Insights.