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Turkey faces up to its funding gaps

With the authorities having achieved a lowering of the current account deficit, expectations for growth in Turkish bank lending are rising again. Quantitative easing has let loose new capital flows into the country, but the dearth of longer-term funding is more serious than ever.

Driving across the 1970s-built suspension bridge over the Bosphorus, the view of Istanbul’s European and Asian sides is awe-inspiring. But the bridge is increasingly clogged with traffic, and the time this offers to ponder the city’s mixture of old and new soon becomes a frustration.

It is a journey those working in financial services will have to undertake more often. Turkey’s privately owned banks are almost all located on Istanbul’s European side, in the Besiktas municipality. However, the government is encouraging state financial institutions to move from the capital, Ankara, to Atasehir, just over the bridge on the Asian side – part of its ambitions to turn Istanbul into an international financial centre.

This year Halkbank became the first to make the move to Atasehir. "Twenty minutes is a not bad time to drive between two continents," quips Hakan Atilla, Halkbank’s head of international banking, speaking about the trip from Besiktas. At busy times, however, it takes more like an hour and a half.

From Halkbank’s new skyscraper in Atasehir, Atilla surveys, on the one side, a sea of drab brand-new apartment towers stretching towards the mountains in the distance, and on the other a motley collection of more traditional three- or four-storey dwellings.

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