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Bargain basement opens to business

Years from now, the banking crisis of today will probably be seen as the beginning of a period when market dominance started to pass to foreign hands.

In the long term, the banking crisis will probably be remembered as the beginning of the period when market dominance started passing to foreign banks. The Turkish banking sale season has opened and there are many bargains. "Compared with price-to-asset valuations of around 50% to 60% a year ago, bank valuations have now declined to 15% to 20% of assets," says Credit Suisse First Boston's head Turkish analyst, Afa Boran. "We are entering a phase of foreign bank domination," says Burhan Karacam, chairman of Kocbank, which belongs to one of Turkey's biggest privately-owned industrial conglomerates. "Turkish banks need to recapitalize but have not got the resources to do so. They must therefore find joint-venture partners. Small and medium-size banks will disappear. There will be just an handful of big banks and a few speciality banks left."

HSBC is negotiating to buy Demirbank from banking authority BDDK. BDDK has already sold Sumerbank to Oyak Bank, owned by the army pension fund. Bank Ekspress, a small bank, has been sold to another small bank, Tekfen Bank.

Up to now the foreign bank presence in Turkey has been quite small. They shied away from becoming big players because the sector was not properly regulated or supervised and the risks involved were too high.

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