Turkey’s Oyakbank in talks

ISTANBUL (Reuters) – Turkey’s Oyakbank is in talks with more than one potential buyer and an announcement could be made within 10 days, a senior Oyak Group official told Reuters yesterday. Oyak Group, a cement-to-autos conglomerate which is also the army pension fund, has said it could seek a 50-50 partnership deal or sell the whole medium-sized bank. After a series of banking acquisitions, Oyakbank is one of the last lenders available to foreign investors wanting to get into the sector in EU candidate Turkey, which expects economic growth of 6 percent this year. «Talks with regard to sale of the bank continue. There could be something within 10 days. We’re talking to more than one bank,» the official, who declined to be named, said. Banking sources have said Credit Agricole is interested in the unlisted bank. Last week the French lender said it was interested in the Turkish banking sector but declined to comment on whether it would bid for Oyakbank. Oyakbank, with some 300 branches and assets of 8.4 billion lira ($5.7 billion) at the end of last year, offers services to retail, corporate and small and mid-sized business clients. The official brushed off speculation that tension between France and Turkey over a bill passed in the French parliament to outlaw Armenian genocide denials could undermine a possible deal with a French bank. «We are asset managers, we do trade and industry. Of course we are Turkish and nationalists but politics isn’t really our job,» the official said. Turkey denies a genocide against Armenians during World War I. The Turkish army has suspended military ties with France.

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