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Turkey to sell Halkbank

Turkey plans to sell a large portion of the state's second-largest bank, Halkbank, "very soon", Turkish Economy Minister Ali Babacan said on Wednesday in a speech to investors.

Reuters Yeni Şafak
"We have gone through a major privatisation process ... Now we have Halkbank, the second-largest bank of Turkey which is going to be privatised very soon. It is going to be a block sale," Babacan said.

"The bank is 99.9 percent owned by the treasury and one strategic investor will buy the bank and it is very soon."

The privatisation of Halkbank is part of an International Monetary Fund-backed economic programme, and Ankara has said the sale of larger state bank Ziraat will follow.

The Privatisation Administration and Halkbank officials have been talking to potential investors, and banking sources said previously that Fortis , BBVA , National Bank of Kuwait and Turkey's Garanti had all received presentations on the bank.

But last week banking sources said that Halkbank could be privatised via an initial public offering as well as a block sale, going back on an earlier decision.

After a raft of acquisitions from foreign banks, Halkbank -- sixth-largest in the country with assets of 32.6 billion lira ($22 billion) and more than 500 branches -- is one of the last opportunities for foreign investors to get into Turkey, along with much smaller Oyakbank.

The banking sector in Turkey -- whose economy is expected to grow 6 percent this year -- has received keen foreign attention. On Tuesday U.S. giant Citigroup said it had agreed to pay $3.1 billion for a 20 percent stake in Turkey's second-largest private bank Akbank .

Other foreign players in the fiercely competitive sector include Franco-Belgian Dexia , France's BNP Paribas and Belgian-Dutch Fortis.

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