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Turkey: Local banks still taste sweet

International banks continue to flock to Turkey, where the lure of a 70 million-plus population that is becoming increasingly bankable presents an almost irresistible attraction. Among the latest entrants to the Turkish banking market is Bank TuranAlem, Kazakhstan’s number two bank by assets. After nine months of negotiations it has secured a 33.98% stake in Sekerbank for TL424.7 million ($256 million). The acquisition was conducted by BTA’s investment banking arm, TuranAlem Securities, whose chief executive, Kairat Bektanov, says that the Sekerbank transaction is part of an expansion strategy that has transformed BTA from a purely Kazakh operation into a major regional player. The bank already has subsidiaries in Armenia, Belarus, Georgia, Kyrgyzstan, Russia and Ukraine as well as representative offices in China, Tajikistan and the United Arab Emirates.

Sekerbank is the 17th-biggest of Turkey’s 47 banks and was founded in 1953 as a bank for the country’s sugar beet co-operatives. It has since diversified its activities and is now a full-service commercial bank with an extensive nationwide network of 210 branches.

Meanwhile, the IPO of state-owned Halkbank is scheduled to take place this month and a further block sale of the bank is planned for 2008.

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