Turkey

Debt-laden Turkish companies are seeking more time to repay bank loans after the coronavirus pandemic upended plans to sell assets, according to four sources with direct knowledge of the matter, Reuters reported. Even before the virus hit Turkey in March, firms were seeking lower rates from banks after an aggressive monetary easing campaign and since then, large and small companies are looking for further revisions to nearly all of the restructurings agreed in the past two years, according to one of the sources.

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Turkey had its debt rating cut deeper into junk by Moody’s Investors Service, which warned of a possible balance-of-payments crisis in assigning the lowest grade it’s ever given to the country, Bloomberg News reported. The sovereign credit rating was cut to B2, five levels below investment grade and on par with Egypt, Jamaica and Rwanda. The company kept a negative outlook on the rating, saying fiscal metrics could deteriorate faster than currently expected.

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The lira weakened for a fourth day in a sign to traders that the central bank’s efforts to stem its declines by raising the average cost of borrowing are falling short, Bloomberg News reported. The Turkish currency slid almost 0.4% versus the dollar, bringing its depreciation this month to almost 6%, the most in emerging markets. The central bank has sought to anchor the currency by raising the cost of funding ahead of Thursday’s policy meeting. While the benchmark one-week repo rate is at 8.25%, policy makers are offering funding though more expensive channels.

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President Recep Tayyip Erdogan says Turkey’s banks are “doing fine.” But as the lira spirals ever lower, debt investors are taking a less sanguine view. The bonds of three Turkish lenders are trading at distressed levels, which shows the deteriorating opinion of investors on the ability of the companies to repay their obligations, even though the banks remain profitable and highly capitalized, Bloomberg News reported.

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Turkey stepped back from currency interventions and moved to relax some of the restrictions that tethered the lira for months, allowing it to tumble to a record against the dollar, Bloomberg News reported. State banks withdrew support for the lira at specific levels against the U.S currency even as it dropped to an all-time low, and were largely absent from the market on Thursday, according to people familiar with the matter.

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Telia Co. AB is in talks to sell its indirect stake in Turkcell Iletisim Hizmetleri AS, Turkey’s biggest mobile-phone carrier, to the country’s sovereign wealth fund for about $530 million, Bloomberg News reported. Negotiations are still ongoing and are in an advanced stage, but no agreement has yet been reached, Telia said in a statement. Telia is the largest shareholder in Turkcell via the holding company Turkcell Holding AS.

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Months of concern over rising Covid-19 infection levels may be secondary for investors in coming days as market-moving events and policy decisions take center stage, Bloomberg News reported. China’s annual National People’s Congress starting Friday will likely keep volatility suppressed for developing-nation currencies, despite the prospect of another flareup in tensions between Beijing and Washington.

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Turkish banks are hitting back at criticism from President Recep Tayyip Erdogan that they’re not supporting the economy by appealing to their regulator to smooth tensions with the government, Bloomberg News reported. Lenders not owned by the state highlighted their efforts to help restructure troubled loans during talks on Tuesday with Mehmet Ali Akben, the head of the banking regulator, according to a copy of the minutes seen by Bloomberg News.

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Turkish banks on Monday offered customers some relief from debt repayments and pledged more cash, the latest steps in the campaign to limit the economic fallout from the coronavirus outbreak, Bloomberg News reported. State lenders including Ziraat Bank, Halkbank and Vakifbank allowed clients to postpone repaying debt by three months. Banks also pledged to restructure existing loans to give companies grace periods of as long as 12 months when they aren’t required to make any payments.

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Turkish conglomerate Cengiz Holding is prepared to bid for British Steel if the planned sale of the UK company to Jingye collapses, adding to pressure on the Chinese group to finalise the deal in coming weeks, the Financial Times reported. “We are watching developments closely and are ready to make a bid for the whole of British Steel,” said Omer Mafa, chief executive of Cengiz, in a statement on Sunday.

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