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Turkey’s banks put M&A centre stage

The enormous growth potential of the Turkish banking sector is attracting a lot of attention but the mortgage business, one of the industry’s biggest attractions, is suffering from profit shortfalls because of a lack of well-matched funding opportunities. Covered bond issuance and the imminent reawakening of the Turkish lira corporate bond market could provide a much-needed boost. Peter Koh reports.

Growing pains

THE APRIL BATTLE for Finansbank waged between Citigroup and National Bank of Greece threw a spotlight on Turkey’s booming banking sector. National Bank of Greece trumped Citi’s offer by paying €2.3 billion for 46% of the Turkish bank, valuing it at about 3.6 times price to book, setting a new benchmark for Turkish bank acquisitions. Previous deals were done more cheaply: for example, Fortis’s acquisition of a 89% stake in Disbank, which was completed in July 2005, was priced at just 1.9 times price to book.

With deposits in Turkish banks expected to grow by 30% this year and loan books by 50%, it’s easy to see why even the world’s biggest banks are looking for a piece of the action.

Rumour mill

Talk of foreign interest in Turkish banks is everywhere you turn in Istanbul. Almost all the banks are the subject of rumours. Denizbank, a mid-sized private sector bank, indicated in April that it expected to announce a partnership or stake sale by the end of May. A strategic stake in Akbank, the country’s second-largest bank by assets, is thought to be a particularly tempting option for foreign players – it is the largest target still available.

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