IFC to buy small stake in Turkey’s Finansbank

National Bank, Greece’s largest lender, is in talks with the International Finance Corporation (IFC) on the latter purchasing a stake in Turkey’s Finansbank, a senior National Bank official said yesterday. National Bank agreed in early April to pay $2.77 billion for a 46 percent stake in Finansbank – a record Greek-Turkish deal – as part of its expansion strategy into Southeast Europe. Under the latest plan, the IFC – which is the investment arm of the World Bank – would buy a minority stake in the mid-sized Turkish bank, the senior official said, adding that the timing and the percentage of the stake had not been finalized. Sources said however that IFC will buy 5 percent of Finansbank from National after the latter completes a public offer for the Turkish bank’s minority shares later this year. National Bank, with a market value of 11.2 billion euros ($14.3 billion), is planning a 3-billion-euro rights issue to finance the acquisition and is expected to announce the terms when it seeks approval at a shareholders’ meeting tomorrow. IFC’s move is seen as lending important support to National in the present circumstances, when it has come under under criticism at home for the acquisition. Today, the bank’s president, Takis Arapoglou, is due to brief Parliament’s Economic Affairs Committee on the subject. Later yesterday, IFC said in a statement that National’s acquisition of Finansbank is a positive development in the economic relations between Greece and Turkey and one of the largest cross-border investments in the region, buttressing the confidence of the investment community. IFC, which largely acts as an informal «guarantor» of such deals, has also bought minority stakes in other acquisitions of the National Bank in Bulgaria and the Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia. (Reuters, Kathimerini)