Air Astana (KC, Astana Nursultan Nazarbayev) has hired advisors for the local and international market ahead of the long-awaited Initial Public Offering (IPO) at the London Stock Exchange (LSE) and the Kazakhstan Stock Exchange (KaSE), aiming to list the shares in the first quarter of 2024, inside sources told Bloomberg.

The carrier plans to sell a mix of shares currently held by the two owners, sovereign wealth fund Samruk Kazyna (which holds a 51% stake) and BAe Systems (49% stake), and new shares. The two current shareholders plan to sell around 50% of their current shareholding but will not exit the company altogether, contrary to earlier reports. The sale will be organised in a way that will ensure that the majority of Air Astana's shares remain in the hands of Kazakh nationals or companies.

Air Astana can fetch a valuation of up to USD1 billion and will be listed at both the LSE and the KaSE.

The Kazakh flag carrier first flirted with plans to list almost ten years ago, targeting 2016 for the IPO. After those plans were deferred, the airline attempted to list again in 2019. The government then moved the timeline to 2020 to better align with other planned privatisation, but the COVID-19 pandemic forced it to cancel the plan.

According to sources, the airline appointed Citigroup, Jefferies Financial Group, Wood & Co., Halyk Finance, BCC Invest, Jusan Invest, and Skybridge Invest as advisors.

Qazaq Air (IQ, Astana Nursultan Nazarbayev), which is wholly owned by Samruk Kazyna, is also slated to privatise, although more likely through a strategic investment than an IPO.

Air Astana was not immediately available for comment.