Hurriyet Daily News - French banking giant BNP Paribas may use its Turkish unit, Turkiye Ekonomi Bankasi (TEB) to expand into the rapidly growing markets in the Middle East and the Balkans, according to its top executive in Turkey.
BNP Paribas Turkey Head Jean-Paul Sabet was speaking on the sidelines of a press conference that marked the completion of the merger between of Fortis Bank Turkey and TEB. “Considering Turkey’s influential position in the region, Turkish banks doing business in the surrounding countries will have a natural advantage in the long run,” said Sabet, speaking about the emboldened TEB’s future plans which include having branches in such regions.
BNP Paribas, Europe’s biggest bank by assets, had a 42.125 percent share in TEB, which is 15.63 percent publicly traded. After the merger, BNP Paribas and Turkish Colakoglu Group will have equal shares in the non-publicly traded portion of the lender. TEB announced last June it would acquire the Turkey operations of Fortis, as part of the latter’s asset sale policy. “With its growing population, skilled work force and relatively low banking penetration, Turkey ranks among the top five strategically important markets for us, following France, Italy, Belgium and Luxembourg,” said Sabet, adding that Turkish banking has proved its resilience. Sabet said that he sees Turkey as a hub in the region “to penetrate countries in the Mediterranean, the Balkans, and the Middle East.’’