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Opportunities in the Turkish banking sector abound

Despite its recent travails, the Turkish banking sector has been a hive of activity in the past year among foreign banks vying for a foothold in the market.

From Industrial and Commercial Bank of China, the world’s biggest bank, to Russia’s Sberbank, the Commercial Bank of Qatar, Burgan Bank of Kuwait and Lebanon’s Bank Audi, interest in either buying and/or building market share in Turkey is at its highest since before the 2008 financial crash.

There are two mains reason for this: the Turkish economy is still growing, albeit at a slower pace than in previous years, and the country still offers so much growth potential in savings as well as retail and consumer lending.

According to the BRSA, Turkey’s banking regulator, mortgage loans last year only comprised about 5% of the country’s GDP, while non-mortgage retail loans were less then 15%.

In addition to that, Istanbul is trying to evolve into a regional financial centre, with its own version of London’s Canary Wharf being built in the modern suburb of Atasehir on the Asian side of the Bosphorus.

But is there room for newcomers?

"There is definitely potential there given Turkey is under-levered at the consumer level," says Didem Gordon, vice-chairman and CEO of Ashmore Asset Management, Turkey. "There is high potential for growth in loans and savings as well.

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