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Turkey: Plenty of scope for M&A

When it comes to mergers and acquisitions, Turkey’s banking sector remains a land of opportunity. UniCredit analyst Matteo Ferrazzi says: “In central and eastern Europe, opportunities for mergers and acquisitions are few and far between. Most banks are already in solid hands or owned by foreign players. But in Turkey, it is a different case and there are still banks to be privatized.”

Can Turkey remain immune from the crisis?

Despite the postponed privatization of Halkbank, which was scheduled for 2008, other acquisition opportunities might yet be thrown up by the rapidly changing ownership structure in international banking.

BNP Paribas’ €14.5 billion takeover of Fortis’s Belgian and French banking operations in October 2008, for example, has left BNP Paribas with both a 50% stake in TEB and a majority stake in Fortis’s Turkish banking operations. Analysts expect BNP to either merge the two banks or sell one of them, although the French bank has yet to outline its plans.

Other foreign investors might also be prepared to sell stakes in Turkish banks. Like Fortis, Dexia has been bailed out by the French, Dutch and Luxembourg governments, opening the possibility of changes in its overseas investments, including its 75% stake in Turkey’s Denizbank, which it bought for $2.4 billion in 2006.

Unlike their Turkish subsidiaries, most of the other foreign players are also struggling in their home markets. GE Capital has forecast pre-tax losses of up to $9 billion in 2009 and warned shareholders that the group would conserve cash and reduce its level of debt.

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