Türkiye's Akbank eyes state-owned Halkbank

Hurriyet English - Türkiye's Akbank may bid for state-owned Halk Bankasi when it is put up for sale, Ahmet Dorduncu, Chief Executive Officer of Akbank's main owner Sabanci Holding said in an interview with Bloomberg on Wednesday. "Akbank would of course consider that," Dorduncu said, adding that Akbank is the largest player. "Of course Akbank would take this opportunity under the microscope." Sabanci Holding controls Akbank, Türkiye's largest publicly traded bank in terms of market capitalization, and sold a 20 percent stake in the lender to Citigroup for $3.1 billion last year. Turkish Finance Minister Kemal Unakitan said last month that the government would announce a sale plan for Halkbank in the following weeks, without specifying whether it will sell a majority stake to a single investor, or shares in a public offering. Akbank was Türkiye's third-biggest lender with 68.2 billion YTL ($56 billion) of assets at the end of 2007. Halkbank ranked seventh with 40.2 billion YTL ($33.2 billion) of assets, according to Türkiye's banking association. In case of a possible takeover the combination of these two banks will form Türkiye's biggest bank. The Turkish government owns the 75 percent of Halkbank after selling a 25 percent stake in an initial public offering in 2007. The value of the Halkbank is calculated about $5.6 billion at current prices.