ECONOMY

With IMF pledge in mind, Turkey extends sale process

ANKARA (Reuters) – With just a month to fulfill an IMF pledge to sell or close its failed banks, Turkey today extended the sale process for one bank and offered details of the accounts for sale at a number of others. The IMF says it is ready to add $10 billion in fresh money to a $19-billion crisis loan deal to help Turkey recapitalize and resuscitate a state and private banking system that fell into crisis last November and this February. Under the IMF pact, Turkey has promised to sell off or close down by the end of the year the 18 weak private banks it took into state receivership under the Savings Deposit and Insurance Fund (SDIF). The IMF has praised Turkey for its actions so far in reforming its banking system, but Ankara will have to stick to the timetable to earn further loan payments. It needs the IMF money to help handle billions of dollars in debt it has taken on from the failed banks. Some have been merged and three have been sold to foreign and local bidders, including the military pension fund OYAK. The SDIF said on yesterday it had agreed to a request from OYAK that the bidding process for Etibank, which the military pension fund is also interested in, would be extended to close on December 4 from November 16. Local conglomerate Koc Holdings had earlier bid for the bank but the fund rejected its offer as too small. While the SDIF still hopes to sell some of the banks it is managing, it is selling off investment deposit accounts at other banks, emptying much of the institutions as a possible preparation for closure. The SDIF announced four sets of time deposit accounts in denominations of US dollars and Turkish lira that it was offering for sale. Many of the accounts pay high interest rates, a legacy of when creaking banks sought to draw in foreign currency deposits with attractive rates before crisis ripped through the system. The fund is selling them off in an auction to private banks it hopes will take on the cost of managing the accounts, which are 100 percent guaranteed by the state under Turkish law. Banks that bid successfully for the accounts will be given treasury debt papers as assets to balance the new liabilities they have agreed to.