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The battle for Bank Asya

Turkey’s president has tried to kick of one of the country’s largest banks into touch, through public attacks and behind-the-scenes pressure. Despite becoming a political football, Bank Asya is still in the game. Can Turkey’s reputation in the west as a place to do business survive Erdogan’s continued, politically-motivated vendetta?

Gulen vs Erdogan
Gülen vs Erdogan

Just six years after the most devastating banking crisis since the Great Depression, a calamity that forced governments to spend trillions to rescue financial systems and save ‘too-big-to-fail’ banks, it’s surely inconceivable that a national leader should openly badmouth one of his country’s leading banks to bankruptcy.

Not in Recep Tayyip Erdogan’s Turkey.

For the last year, Erdogan and his long-ruling Justice and Development Party government have been conducting a bitter vendetta against Bank Asya, Turkey’s 12th biggest bank and its biggest Islamic ‘participation’ bank.

Describing it as ‘bankrupt,’ ‘bust’ and ‘failed,’ Erdogan has taken nearly every opportunity to traduce the hapless Bank Asya. His aides and advisors have gleefully ripped into the bank too, torpedoing two takeover deals – one friendly, one not – because they’d prefer to see it fail.

Under Erdogan’s withering attack, Bank Asya has endured a run, the loss of big state-owned customers who withdrew business under government pressure, a 40% slump in assets and a halving of deposits. Unsurprisingly, Bank Asya’s once-healthy profits have disappeared into losses, and its share price has fallen by 60%.

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